Researchers in Australia have developed a process for turning waste plastic bags into a high-tech nanomaterial. The furnace-driven process uses non-biodegradable plastic grocery bags to produce carbon layers that line pores in nanoporous alumina membranes. The result is carbon nanotube membranes.
By coating compact disks in photocatalytic compounds and spinning them to clean water, scientists in Taiwan have found a potential new use for old music CDs. The disks, equipped with tiny zinc oxide nanorods, are able to break down more than 95% of the contaminants in methyl orange dye, a benchmark organic compound for testing photocatalytic reactions.
A researcher in the Netherlands has managed to bridge the “gap” between two ultrathin gold nanowires, each just a few atoms high, with a single molecule. This bridge could serve to detect new physical effects or may act as a switch.
A team from Cambridge Univ. in England has devised a simple technique to increase the density of nanotube forests grown on conductive supports about five times over previous methods. The new technique could one day help improve the performance of microelectronics in devices ranging from batteries to spacecraft.
Magnesium is a lightweight metal used in cars and planes to improve their fuel efficiency. But it currently requires a lot of energy and money to produce the metal. Engineers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is developing a new production method that would be 50% more energy efficient than the United States' current production process.
Traditionally, the training of bomb-sniffing dogs has been a hazardous job, but newly developed odor-releasing materials could take the risk out of that work. Scientists at NIST are seeking to patent a novel system that can capture scents and release them over time.
Water pours into a cup at about the same rate regardless of whether the water bottle is made of glass or plastic. But at nanometer-size scales, material type does make a significant difference. A new study shows that in nanoscopic channels, the effective viscosity of water in channels made of glass can be twice as high as water in plastic channels, potentially affecting a variety of research approaches.
Carbon monoxide is a poisoning impurity in hydrogen derived from natural gas. If a catalyst could be developed that can handle this impure fuel, it could be a substantially less expensive alternative to pure hydrogen produced from water. Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have used a simple, “green” process to create a new core-shell catalyst that tolerates carbon monoxide in fuel cells.
Bug spray, citronella candles, mosquito netting—most people will do anything they can to stay away from insects during the warmer months. But those creepy crawlers we try so hard to avoid may offer substantial solutions to some of life’s problems. Researchers using x-ray technology at the Advanced Photon Source were able to take an inside look at several insects, gathering results that go beyond learning about insect physiology and biology.
A new nanostructured material with applications that could include reducing condensation in airplane cabins and enabling certain medical tests without the need for high tech laboratories has been developed by researchers in Australia. The newly discovered material uses “raspberry” particles, which emulate the structure of some rose petals and can trap tiny water droplets.
Researchers at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have reported the first experimental evidence that supports the theory that a soccer ball-shaped nanoparticle, commonly called a buckyball, is the result of a breakdown of larger structures rather than being built atom-by-atom from the ground up.
New research from the Niels Bohr Institute shows that cement made with waste ash from sugar production is stronger than ordinary cement. The study shows that the ash helps to bind water in the cement so that it is stronger, can withstand higher pressure and crumbles less.
Scientists in Spain have reported the first self-healing polymer that spontaneously and independently repairs itself without any intervention. The researchers have dubbed the material a “Terminator” polymer in tribute to the shape-shifting, molten T-100 terminator robot from the Terminator 2 film.
Using colloidal lead sulfide nanocrystal quantum dot (QD) substances, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) research scientists and engineers have recorded an open-circuit voltage of 692 mV using the QD bandgap of a 1.4 eV under one-sun illumination. The achievement highlights the potential for improvements in QD solar cells by employing smaller quantum dots.
By inserting platinum atoms into an organic semiconductor, Univ. of Utah physicists were able to “tune” the plastic-like polymer to emit light of different colors—a step toward more efficient, less expensive and truly white organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) for light bulbs of the future.
At just a molecule thick, it's a new record: The world's thinnest sheet of glass, a serendipitous discovery by scientists at Cornell Univ. and Germany's Univ. of Ulm, has been recorded for posterity in the Guinness Book of World Records. The remarkable material was an accidental byproduct of a graphene fabrication process.
Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. used airbrushing techniques to grow vertically aligned carbon nanofibers on several different metal substrates, opening the door for incorporating these nanofibers into gene delivery devices, sensors, batteries and other technologies.
Before now most research seeking to influence the direction of motion of microscopic components have had to use outside influences such as a magnetic field or the application of light. Scientists in the U.K. have controlled the speed and direction of motion of microscopic structures in water with a chemical-based technique using what they have dubbed “motorized microscopic matchsticks”.
A nanoparticle shaped like a spiky ball, with magnetic properties, has been uncovered in a new method of synthesizing carbon nanotubes by physicists in the U.K. The nanoparticles were discovered on the rough surfaces of a reactor designed to grow carbon nanotubes and are described as sea urchins because of their characteristic spiny appearance.
A team of researchers at Harvard Univ. has found a way to self-assemble complex structures out of gel “bricks” smaller than a grain of salt. The new method could help solve one of the major challenges in tissue engineering: creating injectable components that self-assemble into intricately structured, biocompatible scaffolds at an injury site to help regrow human tissues.
A new method developed in Germany makes it possible to manufacture ultra-thin saw wires by placing diamond on carbon nanotubes. The new invention is designed to cut through silicon wafers with minimum kerf, or “sawdust”, loss that is the unavoidable result of current tools used in semiconductor wafer fabrication.
The lightweight skeletons of organisms such as sea sponges display a strength that far exceeds that of manmade products constructed from similar materials. Scientists have long suspected that the difference has to do with the hierarchical architecture of the biological materials; the way the silica-based skeletons are built up from different structural elements. Now engineers at Caltech have mimicked such a structure.
Measuring the band offset faced by electrons jumping from one material to another is a key component of a nanoscale design process because it guides redesign and prototyping. Current methods don’t work on the nanoscale, however. Using laser-induced current in a nanowire device and its dependence on the wavelength of the laser, a team at Drexel Univ. devised a new method to derive the band offset.
Adding limestone powder to "green" concrete mixtures can significantly improve performance, report researchers from NIST and the Federal Highway Administration. The promising laboratory results suggest a path to greatly increasing the use of fly ash in concrete, leading to sizable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, construction costs and landfill volumes.
Electronic devices with touchscreens rely on transparent conductors made of indium tin oxide, or ITO. But cost and the physical limitations of this material are limiting progress in developing flexible touchscreens. A research collaboration between the Univ. of Pennsylvania and Duke Univ. is exploring the use of nanowires to replace ITO, and are using simulation tools to determine how they might work.