Fiber optics has made communication faster than ever, but the next step involves a quantum leap. In order to improve the security of the transfer of information, scientists are working on how to translate electrical quantum states to optical quantum states in a way that would enable ultrafast, quantum-encrypted communications. A research team has demonstrated the first and arguably most challenging step in the process.
Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed arrays of tiny nanoantennas that can enable sensing of molecules that resonate in the infrared (IR) spectrum. Other nanoscale antenna systems can't be tuned to a longer light wavelength due to limitations of traditional nanoantenna materials. The team used highly doped semiconductors, grown by molecular beam epitaxy.
A researcher in the Netherlands has managed to bridge the “gap” between two ultrathin gold nanowires, each just a few atoms high, with a single molecule. This bridge could serve to detect new physical effects or may act as a switch.
Steam condensation is key to the worldwide production of electricity and clean water: It is part of the power cycle that drives 85% of all electricity-generating plants and about half of all desalination plants globally. So anything that improves the efficiency of this process could have enormous impact on global energy use. Now, a team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology says they have found a way to do just that.
Water pours into a cup at about the same rate regardless of whether the water bottle is made of glass or plastic. But at nanometer-size scales, material type does make a significant difference. A new study shows that in nanoscopic channels, the effective viscosity of water in channels made of glass can be twice as high as water in plastic channels, potentially affecting a variety of research approaches.
Microscopic, bottle-like structures with corks that melt at precisely controlled temperatures could potentially release drugs inside the body or fragrances onto the skin, according to a recently published study. Typical drug delivery systems act more like sponges than bottles. The researchers hope that the new system may allow for greater control of drug delivery.
A new nanostructured material with applications that could include reducing condensation in airplane cabins and enabling certain medical tests without the need for high tech laboratories has been developed by researchers in Australia. The newly discovered material uses “raspberry” particles, which emulate the structure of some rose petals and can trap tiny water droplets.
Researchers have developed a new theoretical model that will speed the development of new nanomaterial alloys that retain their advantageous properties at elevated temperatures. Nanoscale materials are made up of grains that are less than 100 nm in diameter. These materials are of interest to researchers because two materials can have the same chemical composition but very different mechanical properties depending on their grain size.
A new, environmentally-friendly electronic alloy consisting of 50 aluminum atoms bound to 50 atoms of antimony may be promising for building next-generation "phase-change" memory devices. Phase-change memory is being actively pursued as an alternative to the ubiquitous flash memory for data storage applications, because flash memory is limited in its storage density and phase-change memory can operate much faster.
Using colloidal lead sulfide nanocrystal quantum dot (QD) substances, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) research scientists and engineers have recorded an open-circuit voltage of 692 mV using the QD bandgap of a 1.4 eV under one-sun illumination. The achievement highlights the potential for improvements in QD solar cells by employing smaller quantum dots.
At just a molecule thick, it's a new record: The world's thinnest sheet of glass, a serendipitous discovery by scientists at Cornell Univ. and Germany's Univ. of Ulm, has been recorded for posterity in the Guinness Book of World Records. The remarkable material was an accidental byproduct of a graphene fabrication process.
Like a pea going through a straw, tiny molecules can pass through microscopic cylinders known as nanotubes. This could potentially be used to select molecules according to size. Now, an international team of researchers has found that such tubes are more selective than had been thought: Molecules of a precise size can zip through five times faster than those that are a bit smaller or larger.
Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. used airbrushing techniques to grow vertically aligned carbon nanofibers on several different metal substrates, opening the door for incorporating these nanofibers into gene delivery devices, sensors, batteries and other technologies.
A nanoparticle shaped like a spiky ball, with magnetic properties, has been uncovered in a new method of synthesizing carbon nanotubes by physicists in the U.K. The nanoparticles were discovered on the rough surfaces of a reactor designed to grow carbon nanotubes and are described as sea urchins because of their characteristic spiny appearance.
Researchers from the Univ. of Pennsylvania have demonstrated a new mechanism for extracting energy from light, a finding that could improve technologies for generating electricity from solar energy and lead to more efficient optoelectronic devices used in communications.
Commercial uses for ultraviolet (UV) light are growing, and now a new kind of light-emitting diode (LED) under development at The Ohio State Univ. could lead to more portable and low-cost uses of the technology. The patent-pending LED creates a more precise wavelength of UV light than today’s commercially available UV LEDs, and runs at much lower voltages.
A team of researchers at Harvard Univ. has found a way to self-assemble complex structures out of gel “bricks” smaller than a grain of salt. The new method could help solve one of the major challenges in tissue engineering: creating injectable components that self-assemble into intricately structured, biocompatible scaffolds at an injury site to help regrow human tissues.
The lightweight skeletons of organisms such as sea sponges display a strength that far exceeds that of manmade products constructed from similar materials. Scientists have long suspected that the difference has to do with the hierarchical architecture of the biological materials; the way the silica-based skeletons are built up from different structural elements. Now engineers at Caltech have mimicked such a structure.
Electronic devices with touchscreens rely on transparent conductors made of indium tin oxide, or ITO. But cost and the physical limitations of this material are limiting progress in developing flexible touchscreens. A research collaboration between the Univ. of Pennsylvania and Duke Univ. is exploring the use of nanowires to replace ITO, and are using simulation tools to determine how they might work.
An international group of researchers from the U.S. and South Korea have discovered a groundbreaking technique in manufacturing nanostructures that has the potential to make electrical and optical devices smaller. The new patterning technology, called atomic layer lithography, based on a layering technique at the atomic level and relies on a surprising low-tech tool: Scotch Magic tape.
Researchers in Canada have found that abundant materials in the Earth's crust can be used to make inexpensive and easily manufactured nanoparticle-based solar cells. The team has designed nanoparticles that absorb light and conduct electricity from two very common elements: phosphorus and zinc. These are much more plentiful than scarce cadmium, and safer than lead.
Engineers at NIST have developed a new technique for fabricating high aspect ratio 3-D nanostructures over large device areas using a combination of electron beam lithography, photolithography and resist spray coating. While it has long been possible to make complicated 3-D structures with many mask layers or expensive grayscale masks, the new technique enables researchers to etch features in two process steps without masks
Electrostatic charging can be an annoyance at the macroscale; but in development of ion- and electron-optical devices, as well as microelectromechanical systems, this phenomenon can be severely detrimental to performance. In response, Argonne National Laboratory and KLA-Tencor Inc. have designed thin films that can prevent electrostatic charge from accumulating on virtually any surface.
Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new oxygen “sponge” that can easily absorb or shed oxygen atoms at low temperatures. It consists of strontium cobaltite which has been synthesized in a desirable phase known as perovskite. Materials like this would be useful in devices such as rechargeable batteries, sensors, gas converters and fuel cells.
Composed of a very little number of atoms, nanomachines offer the promise of a revolution in manufacturing and civilization. Researchers around the world look at various molecules trying to put them to work. But recent measurements in Poland using a new technique for estimating power generated by motors of single molecule in size reveal that power of such motors is considerably less than expected by developers.