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Ceramics don’t have to be brittle

September 11, 2014 5:00 pm | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | News | Comments

Imagine a balloon that could float without using any lighter-than-air gas. Instead, it could simply have all of its air sucked out while maintaining its filled shape. Such a material might be possible with a new method developed at the California Institute of Technology that allows engineers to produce a ceramic that contains about 99.9% air yet is strong enough to recover its original shape after being smashed by more than 50%.

Excitonic dark states shed light on TMDC atomic layers

September 11, 2014 9:50 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A team of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers believes it has uncovered the secret behind the unusual optoelectronic properties of single atomic layers of transition metal dichalcogenide (TMDC) materials, the 2-D semiconductors that hold great promise for nanoelectronic and photonic applications.

Plastics in motion: Exploring the world of polymers

September 11, 2014 8:21 am | by SLAC Office of Communications | News | Comments

Plastics are made of polymers, which are a challenge for scientists to study. Their chain-like strands of thousands of atoms are tangled up in a spaghetti-like jumble, their motion can be measured at many time scales and they are essentially invisible to some common x-ray study techniques. A better understanding of polymers at the molecular scale could lead to improved manufacturing techniques and the creation of new materials.

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Angling chromium to let oxygen through

September 10, 2014 6:03 pm | by Mary Beckman, PNNL | News | Comments

Researchers have been trying to increase the efficiency of solid oxide fuel cells by lowering the temperatures at which they run. In a serendipitous finding at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, researchers have created a new form of strontium-chromium oxide that performs as a semiconductor and also allows oxygen to diffuse easily, a requirement for a solid oxide fuel cell.

Searching for new forms of superconductivity in 2-D electron liquids

September 10, 2014 8:38 am | News | Comments

A new frontier for studying 2-D matter is provided by planar collections of electrons at the surface of transition-metal-oxide (TMO) materials, in which high electron densities give rise to interactions that are stronger than in semiconductors. Scientists hope to find exotic phenomena in these highly-interactive electron environments and one of the leaders in this effort is James Williams, a new fellow at the Joint Quantum Institute.

New "dry" process creates artificial membranes on silicon

September 9, 2014 2:42 pm | News | Comments

Artificial membranes mimicking those found in living organisms have many potential applications ranging from detecting bacterial contaminants in food to toxic pollution in the environment to dangerous diseases in people. Now a group of scientists in Chile has developed a way to create these delicate, ultra-thin constructs through a "dry" process, by evaporating two commercial, off-the-shelf chemicals onto silicon surfaces.

Buckyballs, diamondoids join forces in tiny electronic gadget

September 9, 2014 12:38 pm | by Andrew Gordon, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists have married two unconventional forms of carbon to make a molecule that conducts electricity in only one direction. This tiny electronic component, known as a rectifier, could play a key role in shrinking chip components down to the size of molecules to enable faster, more powerful devices.

Doped graphene nanoribbons with potential

September 9, 2014 7:40 am | News | Comments

Typically a highly conductive material, graphene becomes a semiconductor when prepared as an ultra-narrow ribbon. Recent research has now developed a new method to selectively dope graphene molecules with nitrogen atoms. By seamlessly stringing together doped and undoped graphene pieces, ”heterojunctions” are formed in the nanoribbons, allowing electric current to flow in only one direction when voltage is applied.

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Parting water: “Electric prism” separates water’s nuclear spin states

September 8, 2014 1:43 pm | News | Comments

Using an "electric prism", or deflector, scientists have found a new way of separating water molecules that differ only in their nuclear spin states and, under normal conditions, do not part ways. Since water is such a fundamental molecule in the universe, the recent study may impact a multitude of research areas ranging from biology to astrophysics.

Engineers advance understanding of graphene’s friction properties

September 8, 2014 8:09 am | News | Comments

On the macroscale, adding fluorine atoms to carbon-based materials makes for water-repellant, non-stick surfaces, such as Teflon. However, on the nanoscale, adding fluorine to graphene vastly increased the friction experienced when sliding against the material. Through a combination of physical experiments and atomistic simulations, a Univ. of Pennsylvania research team has discovered the mechanism behind this surprising finding.

Making Light Work of Industrial Workflows

September 5, 2014 9:31 am | by Markus Fabich, Product and Application Specialist for Materials Science Microscopy at Olympus Europa SE & Co. KG | Articles | Comments

Quality assurance is essential in industrial workflows and the Dortmund-based SGS Institut Fresenius GmbHs, a subsidiary of the SGS Group, undertakes a diverse range of quality assurance tasks in the automotive, aerospace and medical technology sectors. Given that material quality is essential in these sectors, any technologies that can enhance the accuracy, efficiency and ease of material inspection and analysis are welcomed.

Berkeley Lab licenses boron nitride nanotube technology

September 5, 2014 9:06 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Nearly 20 years ago researcher Alex Zettl of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory synthesized in his laboratory a new material never before seen by nature: boron nitride nanotubes, the strongest, lightest, most thermally conducting and most chemically resistant fiber known to exist. Now a startup has licensed this technology with the aim of manufacturing boron nitride nanotubes for commercial use.

Researchers test multi-element, high-entropy alloy with surprising results

September 5, 2014 7:59 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new concept in metallic alloy design has yielded a multiple-element material that not only tests out as one of the toughest on record, but, unlike most materials, the toughness as well as the strength and ductility of this alloy actually improves at cryogenic temperatures. This multi-element alloy was synthesized and tested through a collaboration of researchers.

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Researchers test multi-element, high-entropy alloy with surprising results

September 5, 2014 7:50 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new concept in metallic alloy design called “high-entropy alloys” has yielded a multiple-element material that tests out as one of the toughest on record. But, unlike most materials, the toughness as well as the strength and ductility of this alloy, which contains five major elements, actually improves at cryogenic temperatures.

Magnetic nanocubes self-assemble into helical superstructures

September 5, 2014 7:46 am | by Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago | News | Comments

Materials made from nanoparticles hold promise for myriad applications. The challenge in creating these wonder materials is organizing the nanoparticles into orderly arrangements. Nanoparticles of magnetite, the most abundant magnetic material on earth, are found in living organisms from bacteria to birds. Nanocrystals of magnetite self-assemble into fine compass needles in the organism that help it to navigate.

Ultrasensitive biosensor from molybdenite semiconductor outshines graphene

September 4, 2014 12:58 pm | News | Comments

A new atomically thin 2-D ultrasensitive semiconductor material developed by researchers California promises to push the boundaries of biosensing technology toward single-molecule detection. Based on molybdenum disulfide or molybdenite, the biosensor material which is used commonly as a dry lubricant, surpasses graphene’s already high sensitivity, offers better scalability and lends itself to high-volume manufacturing.

Atomically thin material opens door for integrated nanophotonic circuits

September 4, 2014 12:43 pm | News | Comments

A team of U.S. and Swiss researchers have built a new basic model circuit consisting of a silver nanowire and a single-layer flake of molybdenum disulfide. This new combination of materials can efficiently guide electricity and light along the same tiny wire, a finding that could be a step towards building computer chips capable of transporting digital information at the speed of light.

Titania-based material holds promise as new insulator

September 4, 2014 9:50 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Research from North Carolina State Univ. shows that a type of modified titania, or titanium dioxide, holds promise as an electrical insulator for superconducting magnets, allowing heat to dissipate while preserving the electrical paths along which current flows. Superconducting magnets are being investigated for use in next-generation power generating technologies and medical devices.

Materials scientists play atomic Jenga

September 4, 2014 8:07 am | by Dawn Levy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory got a surprise when they built a highly ordered lattice by layering thin films containing lanthanum, strontium, oxygen and iron. Although each layer had an intrinsically nonpolar distribution of electrical charges, the lattice had an asymmetric distribution of charges.

Researchers observe the phenomenon of "lithium plating" during the charging process

September 3, 2014 8:55 am | News | Comments

When metallic lithium forms and deposits during the charging process in a lithium-ion battery, it can lead to a reduced battery lifespan and even short circuits. Using neutron beams, scientists have now peered into the inner workings of a functioning battery without destroying it. In the process, they have resolved this so-called lithium plating mystery.

Simpler process to grow germanium nanowires could improve lithium-ion batteries

September 2, 2014 12:07 pm | by Andrew Careaga, Missouri Univ. of Science and Technology | News | Comments

As a semiconductor material, germanium is superior to silicon. But it is more expensive to process for widespread use in batteries, solar cells, transistors and other applications. Researchers in Missouri have now developed what they call “a simple, one-step method” to grow nanowires of germanium from an aqueous solution. Their process could make it more feasible to use germanium in lithium-ion batteries.

Scientists learn to control reactions with rare-earth catalyst

August 28, 2014 9:06 am | by Dawn Levy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered they can control chemical reactions in a new way by creating different shapes of cerium oxide, a rare-earth-based catalyst. Their finding holds potential for refining fuels, decreasing vehicle emissions, producing commodity chemicals and advancing fuel cells and chemical sensors.

Nanodiamonds are forever

August 28, 2014 9:03 am | by Julie Cohen, UC Santa Barbara | News | Comments

An international group of scientists posit that a comet collision with Earth played a major role in the extinction of most of North America’s megafauna close to 13,000 years ago. In a new study, they have focused on the character and distribution of nanodiamonds, which are produced during such an extraterrestrial collision. The researchers found an abundance of these tiny diamonds distributed over 50 million km2 in the Northern Hemisphere.

New analytical technology reveals nanomechanical surface traits

August 27, 2014 5:03 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have discussed the merits of surface-stress influence on mechanical properties for decades. Now, a new research platform, called nanomechanical Raman spectroscopy and developed at Purdue Univ., uses a laser to measure the "nanomechanical" properties of tiny structures undergoing stress and heating.

Rubber meets the road with ORNL carbon, battery technologies

August 27, 2014 3:22 pm | by Ron Walli, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Communications | News | Comments

Recycled tires could see new life in lithium-ion batteries that provide power to plug-in electric vehicles and store energy produced by wind and solar, say researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. By modifying the microstructural characteristics of carbon black, a substance recovered from discarded tires, a team of researchers is developing a better anode for lithium-ion batteries.

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