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Buckyballs offer environmental benefits

February 10, 2015 9:25 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Treated buckyballs not only remove valuable but potentially toxic metal particles from water and other liquids, but also reserve them for future use, according to scientists at Rice Univ. The Rice lab of chemist Andrew Barron has discovered that carbon-60 fullerenes (buckyballs) that have gone through the chemical process known as hydroxylation aggregate into pearl-like strings as they bind to and separate metals from solutions.

New design tool for metamaterials

February 10, 2015 8:33 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Metamaterials offer tantalizing future prospects such as high-resolution optical microscopes and superfast optical computers. To realize the vast potential of metamaterials, however, scientists will need to hone their understanding of the fundamental physics behind them. This will require accurately predicting nonlinear optical properties.

Nano-antioxidants prove their potential

February 10, 2015 8:23 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Injectable nanoparticles that could protect an injured person from further damage due to oxidative stress have proven to be astoundingly effective in tests to study their mechanism. A team of scientists designed methods to validate their 2012 discovery that combined polyethylene glycol-hydrophilic carbon clusters could quickly stem the process of overoxidation that can cause damage in the minutes and hours after an injury.

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Using disorder to control light on a nanoscale

February 5, 2015 9:52 am | by Matthew Chin, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A breakthrough by a team of researchers could lead to the more precise transfer of information in computer chips, as well as new types of optical materials for light emission and lasers. The researchers were able to control light at tiny lengths around 500 nm, smaller than the light’s own wavelength, by using random crystal lattice structures to counteract light diffraction.

Noncommittal material could make for hypersensitive magnetic direction detector

February 4, 2015 11:07 am | by Mark Esser, NIST | News | Comments

While the mysterious, unseen forces magnets project are now (mostly) well understood, they can still occasionally surprise us. For instance, thin films of cobalt have been observed to spontaneously switch their poles: something that typically doesn’t happen in the absence of an external magnetic field. Physicists at NIST and the Univ. of Maryland have measured this phenomenon on the largest scale yet.

Penta-graphene: A new structural variant of carbon, discovered

February 4, 2015 8:17 am | by Brian McNeill, Virginia Commonwealth Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth Univ. and universities in China and Japan have discovered a new structural variant of carbon called "penta-graphene", a very thin sheet of pure carbon that has a unique structure inspired by a pentagonal pattern of tiles found paving the streets of Cairo.

Rediscovering spontaneous light emission

February 4, 2015 8:06 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have developed a nano-sized optical antenna that can greatly enhance the spontaneous emission of light from atoms, molecules and semiconductor quantum dots. This advance opens the door to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that can replace lasers for short-range optical communications, including optical interconnects for microchips, plus a host of other potential applications.

One-atom-thin silicon transistors hold promise for super-fast computing

February 4, 2015 7:50 am | by Sandra Zaragoza, The Univ. of Texas at Austin | News | Comments

Researchers at The Univ. of Texas at Austin have created the first transistors made of silicene, the world’s thinnest silicon material. Their research holds the promise of building dramatically faster, smaller and more efficient computer chips. Made of a one-atom-thick layer of silicon atoms, silicene has outstanding electrical properties but has until now proved difficult to produce and work with.

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Winding borders may enhance graphene

February 3, 2015 9:20 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Far from being a defect, a winding thread of odd rings at the border of two sheets of graphene has qualities that may prove valuable to manufacturers, according to Rice Univ. scientists. Graphene rarely appears as a perfect lattice of chicken wire-like six-atom rings. When grown via chemical vapor deposition, it usually consists of “domains,” or separately grown sheets that bloom outward from hot catalysts until they meet up.

Worms lead way to test nanoparticle toxicity

February 3, 2015 8:12 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

The lowly roundworm is the star of an ambitious Rice Univ. project to measure the toxicity of nanoparticles. The low-cost, high-output study measures the effects of many types of nanoparticles not only on individual organisms but also on entire populations. The researchers tested 20 types of nanoparticles and determined that five, including the carbon-60 molecules (“buckyballs”) discovered at Rice in 1985, showed little to no toxicity.

Using a single molecule to create a new magnetic field sensor

January 30, 2015 9:16 am | by Univ. of Liverpool | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Liverpool and Univ. College London have shown a new way to use a single molecule as a magnetic field sensor. In a study, published in Nature Nanotechnology, the team shows how magnetism can manipulate the way electricity flows through a single molecule, a key step that could enable the development of magnetic field sensors for hard drives that are a tiny fraction of their present size.

Carbon nanoballs can greatly contribute to sustainable energy supply

January 28, 2015 9:07 am | by Johanna Wilde, Chalmers Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers at Chalmers Univ. of Technology have discovered that the insulation plastic used in high-voltage cables can withstand a 26% higher voltage if nanometer-sized carbon balls are added. This could result in enormous efficiency gains in the power grids of the future, which are needed to achieve a sustainable energy system.

Researchers tune friction in ionic solids at the nanoscale

January 28, 2015 8:26 am | by Christopher R. Samoray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Friction impacts motion, hence the need to control friction forces. Currently, this is accomplished by mechanistic means or lubrication, but experiments conducted by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have uncovered a way of controlling friction on ionic surfaces at the nanoscale using electrical stimulation and ambient water vapor.

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Nanoshuttle wear and tear: It’s the mileage, not the age

January 26, 2015 11:36 am | by Holly Evarts, Columbia Univ. | News | Comments

As nanomachine design rapidly advances, researchers are moving from wondering if the nanomachine works to how long it will work. This is an especially important question as there are so many potential applications, for instance, for medical uses, including drug delivery, early diagnosis, disease monitoring, instrumentation and surgery.

Chromium-centered cycloparaphenylene rings for making functionalized nanocarbons

January 26, 2015 8:51 am | by Institute of Transformative Biomolecules, Nagoya Univ. | News | Comments

A team of chemists at Nagoya Univ. has synthesized novel transition metal-complexed cycloparaphenylenes (CPPs) that enable selective monofunctionalization of CPPs for the first time, opening doors to the construction of unprecedented nanocarbons. The team has synthesized novel CPP chromium complexes and demonstrated their utility in obtaining monofunctionalized CPPs, which could be useful for making carbon nanotubes.

Graphene edges can be tailor-made

January 23, 2015 3:27 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Theoretical physicists at Rice Univ. are living on the edge as they study the astounding properties of graphene. In a new study, they figure out how researchers can fracture graphene nanoribbons to get the edges they need for applications. New research shows it should be possible to control the edge properties of graphene nanoribbons by controlling the conditions under which the nanoribbons are pulled apart.

Silver nanowires demonstrate unexpected self-healing mechanism

January 23, 2015 1:56 pm | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

With its high electrical conductivity and optical transparency, indium tin oxide is one of the most widely used materials for touchscreens, plasma displays and flexible electronics. But its rapidly escalating price has forced the electronics industry to search for other alternatives. One potential and more cost-effective alternative is a film made with silver nanowires embedded in flexible polymers.

Technique helps probe performance of organic solar cell materials

January 23, 2015 10:33 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

A research team has developed a new technique for determining the role that a material’s structure has on the efficiency of organic solar cells, which are candidates for low-cost, next-generation solar power. The researchers have used the technique to determine that materials with a highly organized structure at the nanoscale are not more efficient at creating free electrons than poorly organized structures.

Nanotechnology changes behavior of materials

January 23, 2015 9:52 am | by Julie Hail Flory, Washington Univ., St. Louis | News | Comments

One of the reasons solar cells are not used more widely is cost: The materials used to make them most efficient are expensive. Engineers are exploring ways to print solar cells from inks, but the devices don’t work as well. A team of engineers has developed a technique to increase the performance and electrical conductivity of thin films that make up these materials using nanotechnology.

Nanobeaker offers insight into the condensation of atoms

January 21, 2015 11:15 am | by Univ. of Basel | News | Comments

An international team of physicists has succeeded in mapping the condensation of individual atoms, or rather their transition from a gaseous state to another state, using a new method. The team was able to monitor for the first time how xenon atoms condensate in microscopic measuring beakers, or quantum wells, thereby enabling key conclusions to be drawn as to the nature of atomic bonding.

Smart keyboard cleans, powers itself

January 21, 2015 9:44 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

In a novel twist in cybersecurity, scientists have developed a self-cleaning, self-powered smart keyboard that can identify computer users by the way they type. The device, reported in ACS Nano, could help prevent unauthorized users from gaining direct access to computers.

One nanoparticle, six types of medical imaging

January 21, 2015 8:22 am | by Charlotte Hsu, Univ. at Buffalo | News | Comments

It’s technology so advanced that the machine capable of using it doesn’t yet exist. Using two biocompatible parts, Univ. at Buffalo researchers and their colleagues have designed a nanoparticle that can be detected by six medical imaging techniques: computed tomography (CT) scanning, positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, photoacoustic imaging, fluorescence imaging, upconversion imaging and Cerenkov luminescence imaging.

Self-assembled nanotextures create antireflective surface on silicon solar cells

January 21, 2015 8:05 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Reducing the amount of sunlight that bounces off the surface of solar cells helps maximize the conversion of the sun's rays to electricity, so manufacturers use coatings to cut down on reflections. Now scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory show that etching a nanoscale texture onto the silicon material itself creates an antireflective surface that works as well as state-of-the-art thin-film multilayer coatings.

Wearable sensor clears path to long-term EKG, EMG monitoring

January 20, 2015 10:16 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a new, wearable sensor that uses silver nanowires to monitor electrophysiological signals, such as electrocardiography (EKG) or electromyography (EMG). The new sensor is as accurate as the “wet electrode” sensors used in hospitals, but can be used for long-term monitoring and is more accurate than existing sensors when a patient is moving.

Hydrogels deliver on blood-vessel growth

January 20, 2015 7:50 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have found the balance necessary to aid healing with high-tech hydrogel. The team created a new version of the hydrogel that can be injected into an internal wound and help it heal while slowly degrading as it is replaced by natural tissue. Hydrogels are used as a scaffold upon which cells can build tissue. The new hydrogel overcomes a host of issues that have kept them from reaching their potential to treat injuries.

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