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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.