Chemists have recently synthesized the first example of a new form of carbon. This new material consists exactly 80 carbon atoms joined together in a network of 26 rings, with 30 hydrogen atoms decorating the rim. These individual molecules, because they measure somewhat more than a nanometer across, are referred to generically as “nanocarbons,” or more specifically in this case as “grossly warped nanographenes.”
In the search for understanding how some magnetic materials can be transformed to carry electric current with no energy loss, scientists have used an experimental technique to measure the energy required for electrons to pair up and how that energy varies with direction. The method measures energy levels as small as one ten-thousandth the energy of a single light photon.
When studying the reactions at the catalyst surface, scientists usually have to look into idealized systems under vacuum conditions rather than examining the reality of industrial catalytic processes in a gas environment. However, new electron microscopy technology developed at the York JEOL Nanocentre in the U.K. is allowing researchers to observe and analyze single atoms and nanoparticles in dynamic in situ experiments for the first time.
Researchers in the U.K. have demonstrated for the first time incredibly short optical response rates using graphene. Ordinarily, optical switches respond at rate of a few picoseconds. Through this study physicists have observed the response rate of an optical switch using ‘few layer graphene’ to be around one hundred femtoseconds—nearly a hundred times quicker.
Combining experiment and theory, Cornell Univ. researchers have shown that when grown in stacked layers, graphene produces some specific defects that influence its conductivity. Previously it was thought that when perfectly stacked in layers, graphene would be defect-free. Instead, it ripples. The finding could influence efforts to make graphene act like a semiconductor.
Today’s options for high-performance fibers, include Kevlar, Spectra, Dyneema and Zylon. They have been the strongest synthetics in the world. But Marilyn Minus, an asst. prof. of engineering at Northeastern Univ., has developed a type of fiber that is stronger than the first three commercial products mentioned above, and in its first generation approaches the strength of Zylon.
Higher-strength, lighter-weight steels could be coming to a car near you in the near future as part of a DOE advanced manufacturing initiative. Researchers are lending their expertise to a three-year, $1.2-million project to develop a new class of advanced steels for the automotive industry, materials that will be produced using cleaner manufacturing methods.
Three National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) sites where The Babcock & Wilcox Co. (B&W) operates have been selected as recipients of R&D Magazine's 2013 R&D 100 Awards. Sites honored include the Y-12 National Security Complex, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Andrew Greytak, a chemist at the University of South Carolina, is leading a research team that’s making the process of synthesizing quantum dots much more systematic. His group recently detailed an effective new method for purifying cadmium selenide nanocrystals with well-defined surface properties. The advance required the adoption of gel-permeation chromatography.
R&D Magazine announced Hybrid Plastics Inc. as a winner of its prestigious 2013 R&D 100 Award for the company’s POSS UV Flash Curable 100% Solids White Paint. The technology sets a new standard for white 100% solids UV flash-curable coatings which can be applied direct to metal through the use of the company's POSS universal dispersant chemistry. This represents the third time Hybrid Plastics has received an R&D 100 Award.
AKHAN Technologies Inc. announced that its Miraj Diamond Platform, developed in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory, has received a 2013 R&D 100 Award. The Miraj Diamond Platform (CMOS compatible N-type nanocrystalline diamond thin-film technology), represents the combination of two recently enabled diamond technologies—low-temperature nanocrystalline diamond deposition technology and an efficient n-type doping process.
Four innovative technologies have won 2013 R&D 100 Awards, regarded as the “Oscars of invention,” for the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. The awards recognize the top scientific and technological innovations of the past year as judged by a team of independent experts for R&D Magazine. Argonne scientists have won 120 R&D 100 awards since they were first introduced in 1964.
The radioactive element astatine, which in Greek means “instability”, is so rare that it has been little studied. Using artificially generated astatine, physicist Sebastian Rothe has now managed for the first time to experimentally explore one of its fundamental parameters, the ionization potential. This marks the last naturally occurring element to have had this important characteristic determined.
Large flakes of graphene oxide are the essential ingredient in a new recipe for robust carbon fiber created at Rice Univ. The fiber spun at Rice is unique for the strength of its knots. Most fibers are most likely to snap under tension at the knot, but Rice’s fiber demonstrates what the researchers refer to as “100% knot efficiency,” where the fiber is as likely to break anywhere along its length as at the knot.
Researchers at North Carolina State Univ. have developed a new metallic bubble wrap that is lighter, stronger and more flexible than sheet metal and more heat- and chemical-resistant than plastic or other polymer-based bubble wraps. Potential applications include automobile body panels, the wing edges of airplanes, suitcases, helmets and cases for computers and other electronic devices.
A liquid metal alloy, if cooled slowly, will eventually form a solid phase. Before it solidifies, however, the liquid undergoes a liquid-liquid transition to a phase in which it has the same concentration but a more strongly ordered structure. This structure, called, a supercooled liquid, has now been examined by materials scientists using x-rays.
A research collaboration in Europe is the first to successfully create perfect 1-D molecular wires of which the electrical conductivity can almost entirely be suppressed by a weak magnetic field at room temperature. The underlying mechanism is possibly closely related to the biological compass used by some migratory birds to find their bearings in the geomagnetic field.
An unlikely material, cubic boron arsenide, could deliver an extraordinarily high thermal conductivity—on par with the industry standard set by costly diamond. The discovery that the chemical compound of boron and arsenic could rival diamond surprised the team of theoretical physicists. But a new theoretical approach allowed the team to unlock the secret to boron arsenide's potentially extraordinary ability to conduct heat.
Engineers at Oregon State Univ. have determined that ethylene glycol, commonly used in antifreeze products, can be a low-cost solvent that functions well in a “continuous flow” reactor—an approach to making thin-film solar cells that is easily scaled up for mass production at industrial levels.
With a 3-D printer, a petri dish and some cells from a cow, Princeton Univ. researchers are growing synthetic ears that can receive—and transmit—sound. The 3-D ear is not designed to replace a human one, though; the research is meant to explore a new method of combining electronics with biological material.
As a base metal, industrial aluminum often requires protection. Coatings, bondings, and paint are used, but require pre-treatment of aluminum, usually by “pickling” with acidic or alkaline baths. These are costly and inexact processes, even in spray form, which has led researchers in Germany to develop a pickling tape that pre-treats metal cleanly and locally.
The research team from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea has developed an inexpensive and scalable bio-inspired composite electrocatalyst, designed using iron phthalocyanine, a macrocyclic compound, anchored to single-walled carbon nanotubes. Under certain conditions, the new catalyst has a higher electrocatalytic activity than platinum-based catalysts, and better durability during cycling.
A research team at the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan has developed a new nanofiber mesh which is capable of simultaneously performing thermotherapy and chemotherapy of tumors. Using this new mesh, the team succeeded in efficiently inducing natural death of epithelial cancer cells.
Designers of buildings typically have no choice but to use black or bluish-gray colored solar panels. With the help of thin-film technologies, however, researchers in Germany have now added color to solar cells. Optics specialists have changed physical thickness of the transparent conductive oxide layer, modifying its refractive index.
Researchers in Switzerland have designed prototype for an image sensor based on the semiconducting properties of molybdenite. Their sensor only has a single pixel, but it needs five times less light to trigger a charge transfer than the silicon-based sensors that are currently available.