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Graphene membrane could lead to better fuel cells, water filters

March 17, 2015 12:32 pm | by Walt Miss, Penn State Univ. | Videos | Comments

An atomically thin membrane with microscopically small holes may prove to be the basis for future hydrogen fuel cells, water filtering and desalination membranes, according to a group of 15 theorists and experimentalists. The team tested the possibility of using graphene as a separation membrane in water and found that naturally occurring defects allowed hydrogen protons to cross the barrier at unprecedented speeds.

Nanospheres cooled with light to explore the limits of quantum physics

March 17, 2015 10:19 am | by Univ. College London | News | Comments

A team of scientists at Univ. College London has developed a new technology which could one day create quantum phenomena in objects far larger than any achieved so far. The team successfully suspended glass particles 400 nm across in a vacuum using an electric field, then used lasers to cool them to within a few degrees of absolute zero. These are the key prerequisites for making an object behave according to quantum principles.

Clean energy future

March 17, 2015 8:16 am | by Deborah Smith, Univ. of New South Wales | News | Comments

Univ. of New South Wales Australia scientists have developed a highly efficient oxygen-producing electrode for splitting water that has the potential to be scaled up for industrial production of the clean energy fuel, hydrogen. The new technology is based on an inexpensive, specially coated foam material that lets the bubbles of oxygen escape quickly.

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Symmetry matters in graphene growth

March 16, 2015 2:23 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

What lies beneath growing islands of graphene is important to its properties, according to a new study led by Rice Univ. Scientists at Rice analyzed patterns of graphene grown in a furnace via chemical vapor deposition. They discovered that the geometric relationship between graphene and the substrate, the underlying material on which carbon assembles atom by atom, determines how the island shapes emerge.

Nano piano’s lullaby could mean storage breakthrough

March 16, 2015 10:52 am | by William Bowman, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have demonstrated the first-ever recording of optically encoded audio onto a non-magnetic plasmonic nanostructure, opening the door to multiple uses in informational processing and archival storage.

New technology may double radio frequency data capacity

March 13, 2015 3:34 pm | by Holy Evarts, Columbia Univ. School of Engineering and Applied Science | News | Comments

A team of Columbia Engineering researchers has invented a technology, full-duplex radio integrated circuits (ICs), that can be implemented in nanoscale CMOS to enable simultaneous transmission and reception at the same frequency in a wireless radio. Up to now, this has been thought to be impossible: transmitters and receivers either work at different times or at the same time but at different frequencies.

Researchers address mysteries behind anti-wear motor oil additive

March 13, 2015 1:41 pm | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

The pistons in your car engine rub up against their cylinder walls thousands of times a minute; without lubrication in the form of motor oil, they and other parts of the engine would quickly wear away, causing engine failure. Motor oil contains chemical additives that extend how long engines can run without failure, but, despite decades of ubiquity, how such additives actually work to prevent this damage have remained a mystery.

Sweet nanoparticles target stroke

March 13, 2015 11:42 am | by Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology | News | Comments

Materials resulting from chemical bonding of glucosamine, a type of sugar, with fullerenes, kind of nanoparticles known as buckyballs, might help to reduce cell damage and inflammation occurring after stroke. A team from the Max Planck Institute in Germany has tested this on mice, opening the door to potential new drugs for the cerebrovascular accident.

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Researchers manipulate gold-coated nanoparticles with lasers

March 12, 2015 11:56 am | by Ludwig Maximillian Univ. of Munich | News | Comments

Tiny glass nanospheres coated on one side with a very fine gold film: Ludwig Maximillian Univ. of Munich scientists have shown that particles modified in this way can be moved about with high precision using laser beams, creating an optically controlled micro-elevator.

Graphene: A new tool for fighting cavities and gum disease?

March 12, 2015 10:07 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Dental diseases, which are caused by the overgrowth of certain bacteria in the mouth, are among the most common health problems in the world. Now scientists have discovered that a material called graphene oxide is effective at eliminating these bacteria, some of which have developed antibiotic resistance. They report the findings in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Silk: A new green material for next-gen batteries?

March 11, 2015 10:10 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Lithium-ion batteries have enabled many of today’s electronics, from portable gadgets to electric cars. But much to the frustration of consumers, none of these batteries last long without a recharge. Now scientists report in ACS Nano the development of a new, “green” way to boost the performance of these batteries: with a material derived from silk.

Study helps understand why a material’s behavior changes as it gets smaller

March 11, 2015 9:30 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

To fully understand how nanomaterials behave, one must also understand the atomic-scale deformation mechanisms that determine their structure and, therefore, their strength and function. Researchers have engineered a new way to observe and study these mechanisms and, in doing so, have revealed an interesting phenomenon in a well-known material, tungsten.

Simulations provide new insight into emerging nanoelectronic device

March 6, 2015 7:50 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have used an advanced model to simulate in unprecedented detail the workings of "resistance-switching cells" that might replace conventional memory for electronics applications, with the potential to bring faster and higher capacity computer memory while consuming less energy. These electromechanical "metallization cells" rapidly switch from high resistance to low resistance.

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Sub-micrometer carbon spheres reduce engine friction as oil additive

March 5, 2015 8:31 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Tiny, perfectly smooth carbon spheres added to motor oil have been shown to reduce friction and wear typically seen in engines by as much as 25%, suggesting a similar enhancement in fuel economy. The researchers also have shown how to potentially mass-produce the spheres, making them hundreds of times faster than previously possible using ultrasound to speed chemical reactions in manufacturing.

Strength in numbers

March 4, 2015 4:37 pm | by Sonia Fernandez, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | News | Comments

When scientists develop a full quantum computer, the world of computing will undergo a revolution of sophistication, speed and energy efficiency that will make even our beefiest conventional machines seem like Stone Age clunkers by comparison. But, before that happens, quantum physicists will have to create circuitry that takes advantage of the marvelous computing prowess promised by the quantum bit.

Experiment and theory unite in debate over microbial nanowires

March 4, 2015 11:12 am | by Janet Lathrop, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst | News | Comments

Scientific debate has been hot lately about whether microbial nanowires, the specialized electrical pili of the mud-dwelling anaerobic bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens, truly possess metallic-like conductivity as its discoverers claim. But now a Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst team says they settled the dispute between theoretical and experimental scientists by devising a combination of new experiments and better theoretical modeling.

Energy-generating cloth could replace batteries in wearable devices

March 4, 2015 10:25 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

From light-up shoes to smart watches, wearable electronics are gaining traction among consumers, but these gadgets’ versatility is still held back by the stiff, short-lived batteries that are required. These limitations, however, could soon be overcome.

Black phosphorous: A new wonder material for improving optical communication

March 3, 2015 9:18 am | by Lacey Nygard, Univ. of Minnesota | News | Comments

Phosphorus, a highly reactive element commonly found in match heads, tracer bullets and fertilizers, can be turned into a stable crystalline form known as black phosphorus. In a new study, researchers from the Univ. of Minnesota used an ultra-thin black phosphorus film, only 20 layers of atoms, to demonstrate high-speed data communication on nanoscale optical circuits.

Pens filled with high-tech inks for DIY sensors

March 3, 2015 9:06 am | by Ioana Patringenaru, Jacobs School of Engineering | Videos | Comments

A new simple tool developed by nanoengineers at the Univ. of California, San Diego, is opening the door to an era when anyone will be able to build sensors, anywhere. The team developed high-tech bio-inks that react with several chemicals, including glucose. They filled off-the-shelf ballpoint pens with the inks and were able to draw sensors to measure glucose directly on the skin and sensors to measure pollution on leaves.

Glass coating for improved battery performance

March 3, 2015 8:57 am | by Sean Nealon, Univ. of California, Riverside | News | Comments

Lithium-sulfur batteries have been a hot topic in battery research because of their ability to produce up to 10 times more energy than conventional batteries, which means they hold great promise for applications in energy-demanding electric vehicles. However, there have been fundamental road blocks to commercializing these sulfur batteries.

Nanodevice defeats drug resistance

March 3, 2015 7:30 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Chemotherapy often shrinks tumors at first, but as cancer cells become resistant to drug treatment, tumors can grow back. A new nanodevice developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers can help overcome that by first blocking the gene that confers drug resistance, then launching a new chemotherapy attack against the disarmed tumors.

How to best harness solar power

March 2, 2015 10:48 am | by Dawn Fuller, Univ. of Cincinnati | News | Comments

A research partnership is reporting advances on how to make solar cells stronger, lighter, more flexible and less expensive when compared with the current silicon or germanium technology on the market. The researchers discovered how a blend of conjugated polymers resulted in structural and electronic changes that increased efficiency three-fold, by incorporating graphene in the active layer of the carbon-based materials.

Moving molecule writes letters

February 27, 2015 11:55 am | by Andreas Battenberg, TUM | News | Comments

On the search for high-performance materials for applications such as gas storage, thermal insulators or dynamic nanosystems it’s essential to understand the thermal behavior of matter down to the molecular level. Classical thermodynamics average over time and over a large number of molecules. Within a 3-D space single molecules can adopt an almost infinite number of states, making the assessment of individual species nearly impossible.

Electrochemical “fingers” unlock battery’s inner potential

February 27, 2015 8:18 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Lithium-ion batteries unleash electricity as electrochemical reactions spread through active materials. Manipulating this complex process and driving the reactions into the energy-rich heart of each part of these active materials is crucial to optimizing the power output and ultimate energy capacity of these batteries. Now, scientists have mapped these atomic-scale reaction pathways and linked them to the battery’s rate of discharge.

X-ray microscope for nanoscale imaging

February 26, 2015 8:29 am | by Chelsea Whyte, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Delivering the capability to image nanostructures and chemical reactions down to nanometer resolution requires a new class of x-ray microscope that can perform precision microscopy experiments using ultra-bright x-rays from the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

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