Though not often considered beyond the plasma television, developers have begun to capitalize on how these small-scale microplasmas interact with liquids to kill bacteria or synthesize nanoparticles. An interdisciplinary collaboration has revealed a critical interaction that is occurring at this plasma-liquid interface in that the electrons in plasma actually serve to separate water, producing hydrogen gas.
When it comes to physics, glass lacks transparency. No one has been able to see what’s happening at the molecular level as a super-cooled liquid approaches the glass state—until now. Emory University physicists have made a movie of particle motion during this mysterious transition.
Researchers in Spain have improved the antimicrobial properties of medical textiles using an enzymatic pre-treatment combined with simultaneous deposition of nanoparticles and biopolymers under ultrasonic irradiation. The technique is used to create completely sterile antimicrobial textiles that help prevent hospital-acquired infections.
Science is full of surprises. College of Wooster chemist Paul Edminston's search for a new way to detect explosives at airports instead led to the creation of what's now called "Osorb," swellable, organically modified silica, or glass, capable of absorbing oil and other contaminants from water.
In Harvard University's Pierce Hall, the surface of a small germanium-coated gold sheet shines vividly in crimson. A centimeter to the right, where the same metallic coating is literally only about 20 atoms thicker, the surface is a dark blue, almost black. The colors from the logo of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, where researchers have demonstrated a new way to customize the color of metal surfaces by exploiting an overlooked optical phenomenon.
The winners of the 2012 Chemistry Nobel Prize won for their work in revealing the structure and functioning of a key protein complex on the surface of human cells that has been a target for drug development. Their main tool for this research was X-ray crystallography, which is performed with X-ray synchrotrons. But as the researchers would discover, not all synchrotrons are created equal.
Making uniform coatings is a common engineering challenge, and, when working at the nanoscale, even the tiniest cracks or defects can be a big problem. New research from University of Pennsylvania engineers has shown a new way of avoiding such cracks when depositing thin films of nanoparticles based on spin-coating.
At this week’s Frontiers in Optics 2012, physicists are presenting possible applications based on research that uses natural spider silk to catch light. Recent findings could present an eco-friendly alternative to glass or plastic fiber optics: the traditional materials for manipulating light. Silk-enabled implantable biosensors, lasers, and microchips could result.
The colors of a butterfly's wings are unusually bright and beautiful and are the result of an unusual trait: The way they reflect light is fundamentally different from how color works most of the time. A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania has found a way to generate this kind of "structural color" that has the added benefit of another trait of butterfly wings: superhydrophobicity, or the ability to strongly repel water.
The theoretical and experimental framework of a new coherent diffraction strain imaging approach was recently developed by scientists at IBM and Argonne National Laboratory. The new technique is capable of imaging lattice distortions in thin films nondestructively at spatial resolutions of less than 20 nm using coherent nanofocused hard X-rays.
Materials scientists at Rice University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created very thin color-changing films that may serve as part of inexpensive sensors. The new work combines polymers into a unique, self-assembled metamaterial that, when exposed to ions in a solution or in the environment, changes color depending on the ions' ability to infiltrate the hydrophilic layers.
A research team in Japan has succeeded in developing equipment that enables simple, high speed measurement of the band diagrams of organic semiconductor materials in atmospheric conditions. The device essentially combines a spectrophotometer system for studying band gaps with a photoemission yield system to examine ionized potential.
People can let their fingers—and hands—do the talking with a new touch-activated system that projects onto walls and other surfaces and allows users to interact with their environment and each other. Developed at Purdue University, the "extended multitouch" system allows more than one person to use a surface at the same time and also enables people to use both hands, distinguishing between the right and left hand.
In 1937, Italian physicist Ettore Majorana predicted the existence of a class of particle that would serve as its own antiparticle. Such a particle might exist as a quasiparticle, or collection of excitons. Some scientists believe that qubits made from these Majorana “pulses”, when excited in topological materials, would be much more immune from decoherence than other qubits based on conventional particles.
Because conventional solar cells lose all of the energy available from the infrared portion of the solar spectrum, researchers have been investigating photovoltaics that can convert this lost energy. Black silicon is one material which can do this, researchers in Germany have recently managed to double the efficiency of black silicon solar cells by modifying the shape of the laser pulse used to irradiate the silicon.
The tiny metal particles in catalytic converters that work to clean up vehicle emissions require a minimum temperature to function efficiently, and work poorly when cold. A new measuring method using photoemission electron microscopy has made it possible to examine many different types of these particles at the same time, shedding light on what exactly affects converter efficiency.
Engineering faculty and students at the University of Colorado Boulder have produced the first experimental results showing that atomically thin graphene membranes with tiny pores can effectively and efficiently separate gas molecules through size-selective sieving. Such capability could significantly enhance the efficiency of natural gas production while reducing carbon dioxide emissions at the plant.
Conventional sterilization techniques based on a blast of radiation, or exposure to toxic gas, can damage the functional biological components of certain medical devices. According to a team of researchers from Germany and Austria, materials containing an extract from licorice can be used to sterilize and protect medical devices and implants which include biological components.
When stretched, a layer of silicon can build up internal mechanical strain which can considerably improve its electronic properties. Using this principle, engineers have developed a method which allows them to produce 30-nm-thick highly strained wires in a silicon layer. This strain is the highest that has ever been observed in a material which can serve as the basis for electronic components.
Silicon is used in components, e.g. filters or deflectors, for telecommunications. So far, however, all these components have been flat, or 2D. Researchers have developed a new etching method for these structures that results 3D microstructures in silicon. Suitable for fiber optic communications, their optical properties are adjustable at the micrometer scale.
Using a process known as microtomography, a team of Australian engineers have created a high-resolution 3D microscopic image of a segment of spine of a sea urchin. This allowed them to identify unique features in the architecture of the spine, which is a single crystal of calcite that supplies an advantageous mix of elasticity and brittleness.
Magnetized iron can be demagnetized extremely quickly (just a few hundred femtoseconds) when it is radiated with laser light pulses. Researchers in Europe have used x-ray light to reveal a new cause for this loss of magnetism. They found that electrons can move very quickly between areas with different magnetization and polarization, thereby influencing the demagnetization of the material. The effect could play a decisive role in reducing the size of magnetic memories.
A University of Washington bioengineer has recently developed a way to make regular paper stick to medically interesting molecules. The work produced a chemical trick to make paper-based diagnostics using plain paper, the kind found at office supply stores around the world.
Glass materials may have a far less randomly arranged structure than formerly thought. Over the years, the ideas of how metallic glasses form have been evolving, from just a random packing, to very small ordered clusters, to realizing that longer range chemical and topological order exists. A team of scientists at the Ames Laboratory has been able to show for the first time there is some organization to these structures.
University of Akron polymer scientists and biologists have discovered that a certain house spider—in order to more efficiently capture different types of prey—performs an uncommon feat. It tailors one glue to demonstrate two adhesive strengths: firm and weak. The researchers who made the finding are already working toward developing a synthetic adhesive that mimics this design strategy.