Tristructural-isotopic (TRISO) fuel particles are viewed as a safer, more efficient next-generation nuclear fuel. A jawbreaker-like combination of different layers act to contain radioactive byproducts within the fuel. However, sometimes the silver bits inside break loose and get out. Researchers working at Idaho National Laboratory have recently discovered where this silver is going, and hope to learn why.
Rice Univ. researchers have developed a noninvasive technology that accurately detects low levels of malaria infection through the skin in seconds with a laser scanner. The “vapor nanobubble” technology requires no dyes or diagnostic chemicals, and there is no need to draw blood. A preclinical study shows that Rice’s technology detected even a single malaria-infected cell among a million normal cells with zero false-positive readings.
Inspired by how beetles and tree frogs keep their feet attached to submerged leaves, researchers in Singapore have revealed a new method that allows both the growth and transfer steps of graphene on a silicon wafer. This technique enables the graphene to be applied in photonics and electronics, for devices such as optoelectronic modulators, transistors, on-chip biosensors, and tunnelling barriers.
Life science researchers regularly use transmission electron microscopy to study wet environments. Now, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory who are studying batteries have used the method to have applied it successfully to microscopically view electrodes while they are bathed in wet electrolytes, mimicking realistic conditions inside actual batteries.
A research group based in Japan has succeeded for the first time in fabricating a 3-D structure of a quasicrystal composed of a single element. Discovered in 1984, quasicrystals have been found in more than 100 kinds of alloy, polymer and nanoparticle systems. However, a quasicrystal composed of a single element has not yet been found.
According to new research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graphene, under an extremely powerful magnetic field and at extremely low temperature, can effectively filter electrons according to the direction of their spin. This is something that cannot be done by any conventional electronic system and could render graphene suitable for exotic uses such as quantum computing.
In earlier studies, a team from the Univ. of Pennsylvania produced nanoscale grids and rings of “defects,” or useful disruptions in the repeating patterns found in liquid crystals. Their latest study adds a more complex pattern out of an even simpler template: A 3-D array in the shape of a flower. This advances the use of liquid crystals as a medium for assembling structures.
In the quest to shrink motors so they can maneuver in tiny spaces like inside and between human cells, scientists have taken inspiration from millions of years of plant evolution and incorporated, for the first time, corkscrew structures from plants into a new kind of helical “microswimmer.” The low-cost development, which appears in ACS’ journal Nano Letters, could be used on a large scale in targeted drug delivery and other applications.
Quantum dots have potential for applications that make use of their ability to absorb or emit light and/or electric charges. Examples include more vividly colored light-emitting diodes (LEDs), photovoltaic solar cells, nanoscale transistors and biosensors. But because these applications have differing, sometimes opposite, requirements, finding ways to control the dots’ optical and electronic properties is crucial to their success.
Modern epoxies are frequently made stronger, lighter and more resilient with the addition of multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), a special form of carbon that under a microscope looks like rolls of chicken wire. Few analytical methods have been employed, however, to determine the effect this material has on environmental or health safety. NIST has developed a suite of tests for evaluating the performance of these nanocomposite materials.
Supramolecular chemistry is just beginning to come into its own with the emergence of nanotechnology. Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) are commanding much of the attention because of their appetite for greenhouse gases, but a new player has joined the field—supramolecular organic frameworks (SOFs). Researchers have unveiled the first 2-D SOFs that self-assemble in solution.
The Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in Korea has developed a new method for the mass production of boron/nitrogen co-doped graphene nanoplatelets, which could lead to the fabrication of a graphene-based field-effect transistor with semiconducting nature. This opens up opportunities for practical use in electronic devices.
Graphene, a two-dimensional array of carbon atoms, has shown great promise for a variety of applications, but for many suggested uses the material requires treatments that can be expensive and difficult to apply predictably. Now, a team of researchers has found a simple, inexpensive treatment that may help to unleash the material’s potential.
Stanene is the name given by researchers to 2-D sheets of tin that are only one atom thick. A Stanford Univ. team predicts stanene would be the first topological insulator to demonstrate zero heat dissipation properties at room temperature, conducting charges around its edges without any loss. Experiments are underway to create the material in the laboratory. If successful, stanene will enhance devices being built under a DARPA program.
Medical diagnostics seeks to learn early on whether a serious disease is developing or what its course will be. In many cases, treacherous molecules are present only in trace amounts, however. Researchers in Germany have come up with a new method of detection which has allowed them to notice the presence of only 17 dye molecules. The highly sensitive method might one day be used to scan a tiny drop of blood for potential diseases.
An international research team, including researchers at the Univ. of Basel in Switzerland was able to observe a strong energy loss caused by friction effects in the vicinity of charge density waves. This could have practical significance for the control of friction at the nanometer level.
The same tiny cellulose crystals that give trees and plants their high strength, light weight and resilience, have now been shown to have the stiffness of steel. Calculations using precise models based on the atomic structure of cellulose show the crystals have a stiffness of 206 gigapascals, which is comparable to steel.
Physicists in Germany have developed a “planet-satellite model” to precisely connect and arrange nanoparticles in 3-D structures. Inspired by the photosystems of plants and algae, these artificial nanoassemblies of DNA strands might in the future serve to collect and convert energy.
Scientists working to advance imaging useful to medicine and security are capitalizing on the same phenomenon behind the lingering "ghost" image that appeared on old television screens. A team of researchers has created a way to control the length of time light from a luminescent nanocrystal lingers, adding a new dimension of time to color and brightness in optical detection technology.
Researchers have tuned coherence in organic nanostructures due to the surprise discovery of wave-like electrons in organic materials, revealing the key to generating long-lived charges in organic solar cells. By using an ultra-fast camera, scientists have observed the very first instants following the absorption of light into artificial, organic nanostructures and found that charges formed rapidly and separated quickly over long distances.
Strategies to manipulate light and sound go back to the first spherical glass bead and the pounding of the first hollow log. But their full potential is only just becoming apparent, according to a review by materials scientists at Rice Univ. and their colleagues. New abilities to corral light and sound from the macroscale to the nanoscale with structured polymers could deliver profound changes in the way we live.
Networks of nanometer-scale machines offer exciting potential applications in medicine, industry, environmental protection and defense, but until now there’s been one very small problem: the limited capability of nanoscale antennas fabricated from traditional metallic components. With antennas made from conventional materials like copper, communication between low-power nanomachines would be virtually impossible.
One of the most difficult hurdles in adapting carbon nanotubes to industrial purposes is processing the carbon nanotubes into smaller forms to allow them to more easily disperse. However, recent research has managed to cut carbon nanotubes into the smallest dimensions ever to overcome this problem.
There are examples of art imitating nature all around us, from Monet to Chihuly, but when physicist Latika Menon peered under the electron microscope last fall, she discovered the exact opposite in gallium nitride nanowires that bore an uncanny resemblance to artistic pots found in her native India. Menon has begun to control these shapes, which will make the nanowires significantly more promising for use in advanced devices.
Figuring that if some is good, more must be better, researchers have been trying to pack more graphene, a supermaterial, into structural composites. Collaborative research led by Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln materials engineers discovered that, in this case, less is more. The team learned that using a small amount of graphene oxide as a template improves carbon nanomaterials which, in turn, promises to improve composite materials.