Belgium-based semiconductor manufacturing firm imec announced Tuesday that it has integrated an ultra-thin, flexible chip with bendable and stretchable interconnects into a package that adapts dynamically to curving and bending surfaces. The resulting circuitry can be embedded in medical and lifestyle applications where user comfort and unobtrusiveness is key, such as wearable health monitors or smart clothing.
If recent research in Norway is successful, a coating filled with tiny lubricant capsules could come to the rescue when metal surfaces dry out and friction builds up. As part of a project at the Gemini Tribology Centre researchers are now testing whether it is possible—where two metal surfaces are in contact with each other—to apply a coating to surfaces formed of hard particles and capsules filled with liquid lubricant.
Stresses arise in thin films during the manufacture of read heads in hard drives, lasers, and computer chip transistors. This can cause crystal lattice defects and eventual component failure. Researchers have recently determined that enormous stresses, up to 1,000 times atmospheric pressure, can be created in thin films by a quantum-mechanical mechanism that has been unknown until now. It is based on an effect by the name of quantum confinement.
Scientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology report they have patented and are commercializing gallium arsenide (GaAs) nanowires grown on graphene. These semiconductors, which are being developed for market by the the company CrayoNano, are grown on atomically-thin graphene using molecular beam epitaxy.
Engineers at Cornell University have invented a way to pattern single atom films of graphene and boron nitride, an insulator, without the use of a silicon substrate. The technique, called patterned regrowth, is reliant on conventional silicon photolithography technology and could lead to substrate-free circuits that would be atomically thin yet retain high tensile strength and superior electrical performance.
Vivek Dwivedi, a technologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center is experimenting with an emerging technology that might provide an effective technique for defending sensitive spacecraft components from the high-velocity bombardments. Using atomic layer deposition, he is applying a new super-strong, ultra-thin coating made of tiny tubes of boron nitride, similar in appearance to the bristles on a toothbrush.
Films made of semiconductor nanocrystals are seen as a promising new material for a wide range of applications. The size of a semiconductor nanocrystal determines its electrical and optical properties. But it's hard to control the placement of nanocrystals on a surface in order to make structurally uniform films. Now, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have found ways of making defect-free patterns of nanocrystal films where the shape and position of the films are controlled with nanoscale resolution.
Scientists in Sweden report they have produced organic light-emitting electrochemical cells (LECs) using a roll-to-roll compatible process under ambient conditions. They say the innovation proves that LECs can be produced as inexpensive and thin, large-area light-emitting devices for informative displays and, at a later stage, lighting applications.
Thin, conductive films are useful in displays and solar cells. A new solution-based chemistry developed at Brown University for making indium tin oxide films could allow engineers to employ a much simpler and cheaper manufacturing process.
If recent research in Italy is an indication, the next generation of computing could be performed with silicene, an atomically thin form of silicon. The silicene structure consists of one atomic layer of silicon atoms and in this way it is analogous to graphene. With silicene, however, no modification is necessary to create a bandgap.
A group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers has discovered a way of making perfectly ordered and repeatable surfaces with patterns of microscale wrinkles. The method involves chemical vapor deposition of a layer onto a stretched silicon-polymer substrate. When tension is released first one way, then the other, a perfectly ordered wrinkled pattern emerges.
Biofilms stick to just about everything, from copper pipes to steel ship hulls to glass catheters, and can be both a nuisance and a health threat. A team of Harvard University scientists has developed a slick 99%-effective way to prevent the troublesome bacterial communities from ever forming on a surface.
Superhydrophobic surfaces, such as the lotus leaf, are excellent at repelling water and also boast other "smart" self-cleaning, anti-glare, anti-icing, and anti-corrosion properties. By using hollow silica nanoparticles that resemble raspberries, scientists in China have applied a clear, slick, water-repellent surface to glass.
Using a new side-view imaging technique, scientists in the U.K. have shown that their method for sandwiching individual graphene sheets between insulating layers in order to produce electrical devices works almost perfectly, even when more than 10 different layers are used to build the stack.
Researchers reporting fabrication of magnetic tunnel junctions using graphene between two ferromagnetic metal layers have demonstrated, for the first time, the use of graphene as a tunnel barrier—an electrically insulating barrier between two conducting materials through which electrons tunnel quantum mechanically. They accomplished the feat using a fully scalable photolithographic process.
Smooth wrinkles and sharply crumpled regions are familiar motifs in biological and synthetic sheets, such as plant leaves and crushed foils, say physicists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, but how a featureless sheet develops a complex shape has long remained elusive. Now, the physicists report that they have identified a fundamental mechanism by which such complex patterns emerge spontaneously.
Life would be a lot easier if the surfaces of window panes, corrosion coatings or microfluidic systems in medical labs could keep themselves free of water and other liquids. A new simulation program developed by researchers in Germany can now work out just how such surfaces have to look for a variety of applications.
Joshua Zide has spent nearly a decade engineering nanomaterials using molecular beam epitaxy. His particular area of expertise are metalllic-semiconductor nanocomposite for use in electronics, and he is now working on a variation of epitaxy that he hopes will bring the materials deposition technique to the production line for the first time.
Scientists in the U.K. have discovered a previously unrecognized volcanic process called “fluidized spray granulation”, which can occur during kimberlite eruptions to produce well-rounded particles containing mantle, most notably diamonds. This physical process is remarkable similar to the gas injection and spraying process used to form smooth coatings on chocolates.
Wet chemical processes or vacuum plasma processes are typically used for coating applications in industry. Both have drawbacks: vacuum units are expensive and time-consuming, and wet chemistry is energy-intensive and environmentally challenging. Researchers have recently developed a new kind of plasma coating process that works at ambient pressure.
A French-American collaboration has developed a new combination of polymers that makes it possible to design ultra-thin films capable of self-organization with a 5-nm resolution. These hybrid copolymers are based on sugars and oil-based macromolecules. Previous attempts using nothing but oil-based molecules were limited to 20 nm in thickness.
Yale University engineers have developed a novel automated system for generating strong, flexible, transparent coatings with promising uses in lithium-ion battery and fuel cell production, among other applications. The system, called spin-spray layer-by-layer, cuts process time and produces films with both nanolevel precision and improved function.
A new study by a team including scientists from NIST indicates that thin polymer films can have different properties depending on the method by which they are made. The results suggest that deeper work is necessary to explore the best way of creating these films, which are used in applications ranging from high-tech mirrors to computer memory devices.
Different versions of microengines have been developed, including devices that could transport medications through the bloodstream. But until now no one has ever shown that these devices—which are about 10 times smaller than the width of a human hair—could help clean up oil spills. Scientists are reporting successful testing of the first self-propelled “microsubmarines” designed to pick up droplets of oil and transport them.
In collaboration with researchers in Japan, U.K. scientists have grown highly boron-doped diamond layers just 1 nm in thickness. The technique is known as d-doping, and the researchers believe the layers will be the basis for high-performance field-effect transistors that offer the prospect of highly sensitive biochemical agent detection.