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Fabrication method can affect the use of block copolymer thin films

May 2, 2012 10:01 am | News | Comments

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.

First microsubmarines designed to help clean up oil spills

May 2, 2012 9:22 am | News | Comments

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.

Doped diamond structures offer promise for biotech applications

April 27, 2012 9:55 am | News | Comments

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.

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Golden potential for gold thin films

April 27, 2012 9:09 am | News | Comments

Scientists with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley have directed the first self-assembly of nanoparticles into device-ready materials. Through a relatively easy and inexpensive technique based on blending nanoparticles with block co-polymer supramolecules, the researchers produced multiple-layers of thin films from highly ordered 1D, 2D, and 3D arrays of gold nanoparticles.

Magnetic testing process could deliver more reliable electronics

April 13, 2012 9:14 am | News | Comments

Thermal stress can cause debonding between thin layers in microelectronics. Taking advantage of the force generated by magnetic repulsion, researchers have developed a new technique for measuring the adhesion strength between thin films of materials used in these devices, and they hope to apply the method improve solar cells or microelectromechanical devices.

Nontoxic nanosheets could turn waste heat into power

April 13, 2012 3:05 am | by Anne Ju | News | Comments

Cornell materials scientists have developed an inexpensive, environmentally friendly way of synthesizing oxide crystal sheets, just nanometers thick, which have useful properties for electronics and alternative energy applications. Unlike typical oxides, these sheets are conducting, and could be ideal for use in thermoelectric devices to convert waste heat into power.

Surface coatings to prevent undersea ice clogs

April 12, 2012 5:09 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Methane hydrates, which can freeze upon contact with cold water in the deep ocean, are a chronic problem for deep-sea oil and gas wells, frequently blocking flow. Researchers have developed a hydrate-phobic coating that reduces hydrate sticking to just a quarter of previous levels.

With help of graphene, liquids observed below single nanometer scale

April 12, 2012 4:07 am | News | Comments

Scientists in Korea and California have developed a technology that can observe processes occurring in liquid media on a scale of less than a nanometer. Their invention is a graphene liquid cell or capsule, confining an ultra-thin liquid film between layers of graphene. With a transmission electron microscope, nanoscale processes in fluids can be seen with atomic-level resolution.

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Low-friction, greaseless coating prevents wear, corrosion

April 3, 2012 9:30 am | News | Comments

Cog wheels, threads, machine parts, cranks. and bicycle chains wear out quickly unless greases and oils help out. But lubricants containing fat agglutinate or resinify, necessitating cleaning and regreasing. A new composite material that can be applied as a coating offers a greaseless solution and also protects against corrosion.

Microlenses built in a test tube

March 26, 2012 8:05 am | News | Comments

Taking inspiration from the brittlestar, a sea creature that “sees” using crystalline lenses made of calcium carbonate, a team of scientists have discovered that they can grow tiny uniform hemispheric calcium carbonate thin films on a solution. Compatible with biological systems, the microlenses are defect free.

Researchers invent material that could transform flat screen TV

March 21, 2012 11:19 am | News | Comments

Researchers at CRANN, a nanoscience institute based in Trinity College Dublin, have discovered a new material could fill a previously missing component in display electronics—a good quality p-type transparent conducting oxide.

Better organic electronics

March 20, 2012 7:48 am | News | Comments

At Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Molecular Foundry, scientists have provided the first experimental determination of the pathways by which electrical charge is transported from molecule-to-molecule in an organic thin film. These results also show how such organic films can be chemically modified to improve conductance for superior organic electronics.

Diamond brightens the performance of electronic devices

March 13, 2012 4:13 am | News | Comments

While diamonds may be a girl's best friend, they're also well loved by scientists working to enhance the performance of electronic devices. Two new studies performed at Argonne National Laboratory have revealed a new pathway for materials scientists to use previously unexplored properties of nanocrystalline-diamond thin films.

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Functional oxide thin films create new field of oxide electronics

March 7, 2012 4:58 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed the first functional oxide thin films that can be used efficiently in electronics, opening the door to an array of new high-power devices and smart sensors. This is the first time that researchers have been able to produce positively charged conduction and negatively charged conduction in a single oxide material, launching a new era in oxide electronics.

Engineers build an electrical switch for magnetic current

March 1, 2012 3:15 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute have put together a sandwich of a ferroelectric layer between two ferromagnetic materials that responded to a short electric pulse. This changes the magnetic transport properties of the material in such a way that information can be placed in four states instead of just two. The potential increase in storage density is great.

Photovoltaic cells wiggle when lit

February 28, 2012 7:36 am | by Mike Ross | News | Comments

For decades, scientists have known that some ferroelectric materials—materials that possess a stable electrical polarization switchable by an external electric field—are also photovoltaic. But scientists didn’t know how or why. Recent research has revealed an atomic-scale wiggle just 10 trillionths of a second long that reveals the mechanism for the materials’ photovoltaic effect.

Hitachi builds large-scale synthesis technique for carbon nanotubes

February 23, 2012 11:41 am | News | Comments

A method to synthesize continuously large-scale, extra-fine, 10-nm diameter carbon nanotubes with a length of several hundred micrometers has been commercialized by Hitachi Chemical. The company, which will soon start providing samples of the product, has also developed a dispersion liquid and related materials that will promote stability and reduce damage to the nanotubes. 

‘Power Felt’ creates electricity from heat—or cold

February 22, 2012 6:17 am | by Katie Neal | News | Comments

Made from carbon nanotubes locked up in flexible plastic fibers and made to feel like fabric, an invention called Power Felt from Wake Forest University uses temperature differences—room temperature versus body temperature, for example—to create a charge.

Graphene shear and friction mechanics measured for the first time

February 15, 2012 3:25 am | News | Comments

Researchers in the U.K. grew monolayer graphene sheets on copper foil using chemical vapor deposition (CVD), then attached them to high-Q silicon nanomechanical oscillators, which allowed them to measure, for the first time, the stress and strain shear modulus and the internal friction of the sheets. The result suggest a new application for CVD-grown graphene.

Nanoshell whispering galleries improve thin solar panels

February 8, 2012 4:25 am | News | Comments

Nanocrystalline-silicon has high electrical efficiency and is durable in sunlight. But its downfall has been relatively poor light absorption. As a solution, a team of engineers at Stanford University have created tiny hollow spheres of photovoltaic nanocrystalline-silicon, harnessing physics to do for light what circular rooms do for sound.

Solid-state platform offers unprecedented electron spin control

January 27, 2012 6:56 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Harvard University have developed a new platform that can control single electron spins in a more coherent way than any previous solid-state system. By designing nanoscale devices that can confine single electrons, the scientists increased quantum state lifetime more than 1,000 times over than previously used materials.

Single-photon emitter resembles pixel in a display

January 26, 2012 8:21 am | by Robert Emmerich | News | Comments

Tiny components with the ability to emit single particles of light are important for various technological innovations, such as encryption. Researchers in Germany have invented just such a component using three organic complexes groups around a central iridum atom and placed in a substrate. Induce electrical flow and photons are produced.

Natcore receives NREL “black silicon” solar cell license

December 22, 2011 7:31 am | News | Comments

An R&D 100 Award-winning technology from National Renewable Energy Laboratory has recently been licensed to Natcore, a Colorado-based company that is able to commercialize the “black silicon” technology with its liquid phase deposition process.

Experiment with quasicrystals reveals true mechanics of friction

December 20, 2011 5:55 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Stuttgart, Germany, have built an innovative experimental model that allows them to, for the first time, confirm theoretical predictions about how friction at the atomic scale produces localized distortions. This precise insight into how two microscopic surfaces slide over one another could help in the manufacture of low-friction surfaces.

2012 Global R & D Funding Forecast: Industrial R & D—Chemicals, Materials

December 16, 2011 3:40 am | by Martin Grueber, Research Leader, Battelle and Tim Studt, Editor-in-Chief, Advantage Business Media | Articles | Comments

The development of new and advanced materials is often the driver for other industries, such as those involving semiconductors, composites, thin films and coatings, medical devices, chemical and environmental processes, energy systems, and biopharmaceutical products. R&D for these materials involves developing new characteristics, properties, processing capabilities, and entirely new chemical families.

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