Hydrogenation is a chemical process used in a wide range of industrial applications, from food products to petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals. The process typically involves the use of heavy metals, such as palladium or platinum, which, though efficient, are expensive and can be toxic. However, researchers have discovered way to use iron as a catalyst for hydrogenation.
Comic book hero Popeye swears by it. And so do generations of parents who “spoil” their children with spinach. But too much iron content in the blood can indicate acute inflammatory responses, which makes it an important medical diagnostic agent. Using nanoscale diamonds which feature defects, researchers in Europe have developed a new, sensitive biosensor for determination of iron content.
Silicon can accept ten times more lithium than the graphite used in the electrodes in lithium-ion batteries, but silicon also expands, shortening electrode life. Looking for an alternative to pure silicon, scientists in Germany have now synthesized a novel framework structure consisting of boron and silicon, which could serve as electrode material.
A sensor that relies on reflected light to analyze biomedical and chemical samples now has greater sensitivity, thanks to a carpet of gold nanoparticles. Other researchers have shown that gold nanoparticles can enhance the responsiveness surface plasmon resonance sensors (SPR), which magnifies reflected light intensity. Scientists in Singapore have now determined the ideal size of nanoparticle to improve these SPR sensors.
A new study by the Wyoming State Geological Survey has identified dozens of possible sources of rare earth metals in Wyoming in addition to deposits in the Bear Lodge Mountains that a company already has targeted for mining. State geologists gathered and analyzed 335 rock samples from around Wyoming over the past year, making use of $200,000 appropriated by the Legislature.
Researchers in Germany have developed a method that can reduce engine friction and wear even during production of engine components. The new surface finishing methods that the team from five different Fraunhofer Institute locations produce a nanocrystalline layer which offers much improved tribological properties of the metal. The advance, they say, can help to reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.
Researchers from Northeastern University are among the many scientists helping NASA use the weightlessness of space to design stronger materials here on Earth. Researchers say by observing the solidification process in a microgravity environment—in this case, the International Space Station—they were able to study how this morphological instability develops in three dimensions to shape the structure of materials on a micron scale.
In a move that would make the alchemists of King Arthur’s time green with envy, scientists have unraveled the formula for turning liquid cement into liquid metal. This makes cement a semiconductor and opens up its use in the profitable consumer electronics marketplace for thin films, protective coatings, and computer chips.
A newly synthesized material might provide a dramatically improved method for separating the highest-octane components of gasoline. These components are expensive to isolate. Created in the laboratory of Jeffrey Long, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, the material is a metal-organic framework, or MOF, which can be imagined as a sponge with microscopic holes.
Alloys like bronze and steel have been transformational for centuries, yielding machines necessary for industry. As scientists move toward nanotechnology, however, the focus has shifted toward creating alloys at the nanometer scale—producing materials with properties unlike their predecessors. Now, research demonstrates that nanometer-scale alloys possess the ability to emit light so bright they could have medical applications.
Anyone who has seen pictures of the giant, red-hot cauldrons in which steel is made—fed by vast amounts of carbon, and belching flame and smoke—would not be surprised to learn that steelmaking is one of the world’s leading industrial sources of greenhouse gases. But remarkably, a new process developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers could change all that.
Magnetic vortices typically occur in nanometer-scale magnetic disks, which are studied for their potential roles in wireless data transmission. So far, magnetic vortex states have been observed only within a plane, but recently researchers in Europe have discovered 3D magnetic vortices for the first time in a specially designed stack of magnetic disks.
University of Illinois researchers have developed a new way to produce highly uniform nanocrystals used for both fundamental and applied nanotechnology projects. Although polyhedral nanostructures, such as cubes and tetrahedrons, have been synthesized for several noble metals, uniform platinum icosahedrons (20 equilateral triangular faces) have been difficult to produce and are rarely made.
Metal elements and molecules interact in the body, but visualizing them together has always been a challenge. Researchers at RIKEN in Japan have developed a new molecular imaging technology that enables them to image bio-metals and bio-molecules at the same time in a live mouse. This new technology will enable researchers to study the complex interactions between metal elements and molecules in living organisms.
In 2012, more than 3 million people had stents inserted in their coronary arteries. But the longer a stent is in the body, the greater the risk of late-stage side effects. Studies have investigated iron- and magnesium-based bioabsorbable stents, but iron rusts and magnesium dissolves too fast. Recent research shows that a certain type of zinc alloy might be the answer.
Methanol to formaldehyde: This reaction is the starting point for the synthesis of many everyday plastics. Using catalysts made of gold particles, however, formaldehyde could be produced without the environmentally hazardous waste generated in conventional methods. But just how a gold catalyst could work has only recently been discovered by researchers.
Sometimes, all it takes is an extremely small amount of material to make a big difference. Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have recently discovered that they could substitute one-atom-thick graphene layers for oil-based lubricants on sliding steel surfaces, enabling a dramatic reduction in the amount of wear and friction.
Nanosilver in wastewater can cause severe environmental damage if it occurs as a metal. A study recently conducted in Switzerland. now shows that nanosilver is quickly transformed into less problematic substances on its way to the wastewater treatment plant. In addition, it is efficiently retained in the sewage sludge so that only a small portion of it reaches the water systems.
Technology used in downhole applications—such as geothermal or oil-well monitoring—must endure punishing conditions, from very high temperatures to tremendous pressures. Finding a solder material that can perform in these harsh environments is a constant challenge. Researchers have recently repurposed a solder alloy once intended defense applications that has all the right properties for well tasks.
Sandia National Laboratories researchers Lisa Deibler and Arthur Brown had a ready-made problem for their computer modeling work when they partnered with the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Kansas City Plant to improve stainless steel tubing that was too hard to meet nuclear weapon requirements.
More powerful batteries could help electric cars achieve a considerably larger range and thus a breakthrough on the market. A new nanomaterial made from tiny tin crystals, deployed at the anode of lithium-ion batteries, has been developed in the labs of chemists in Europe and enables considerably more power to be stored in these batteries.
Researchers in Switzerland have used X-ray tomography to screen lithium-ion battery electrodes and have reconstructed these microstructures in high resolution. The flow behavior of the lithium ions, they have found, can be described by what is known as tortuosity. To put it simply, the more twisted the path of the ions through the electrode, the more slowly the battery is charged or discharged.
Gelatin sets by forming a solid matrix full of random, liquid-filled pores—much like a saturated sponge. It turns out that a similar process also happens in some metallic glasses, substances whose molecular behavior has now been clarified by new Massachusetts Institute of Technology research detailing the “setting” of these metal alloys.
A team of scientists in the United States has combine three different imaging methods to produce 3D images and videos of a tiny platinum nanoparticle at atomic resolution that reveal new details of defects in nanomaterials that have not been seen before. Prior to this work, scientists only had flat, two-dimensional images with which to view the arrangement of atoms.
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for creating stronger, lightweight magnesium alloys that have potential structural applications in the automobile and aerospace industries. To create these magnesium alloys, the researchers introduced nanospaced stacking faults to the alloy using conventional hot rolling technology that is widely used by industry.