In the latest advance in efforts to find an inexpensive way to make hydrogen from ordinary water, scientists are reporting that powder from high-grade charcoal and other forms of carbon can free hydrogen from water illuminated with laser pulses.
When NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) begins operation aboard the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), it will attempt to show two-way laser communication beyond Earth is possible, expanding the possibility of transmitting huge amounts of data. This new ability could one day allow for 3-D high-definition video transmissions in deep space to become routine.
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.
Made in Texas, Motorola’s new Moto X is the first smartphone to carry the "Made in the U.S.A." designation. Labor costs are higher in the U.S. compared with Asian factories, where phones are typically made. But IHS said the Moto X is about 5% cheaper to make than Samsung Electronic Co.'s flagship Galaxy S4 phone.
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.
Leveraging the amazing natural properties of the Morpho butterfly's wings, scientists have developed a hybrid material that shows promise for wearable electronic devices, highly sensitive light sensors and sustainable batteries. A honeycomb network of carbon nanotubes has actually been grown on Morpho butterfly wings, creating a composite material that can be activated with a laser.
The largest 3-D printed rocket engine component NASA hsa ever tested blazed to life Thursday, Aug. 22 during an engine firing that generated a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. This test is a milestone for one of many important advances the agency is making to reduce the cost of space hardware.
Researchers from the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies and Chiba Univ. have developed a high-temperature superconducting wire with an ultrathin polyimide coating only 4 micrometers thick, more than 10 times thinner than the conventional insulation used for high-temperature superconducting wires. The breakthrough should help the development of more compact superconducting coils for medical and scientific devices.
Graphene was originally made using a method called “exfoliation” which involves pulling graphite apart. Growing graphene epitaxially is more suitable for mass production, but the industry still lacks fast, inexpensive measurement tools to guarantee product quality. A new technique developed in the U.K. is based on optical microscopy and can be used to understand the effect of a silicon carbide substrate on the quality of the graphene layer.
Standard drug-testing methods have shortcomings. Animal testing is expensive and unreliable, and the static environment of cells and cultures don’t mimic the behavior of the entire organism. An interdisciplinary research team at Lehigh Univ. is using microscopy and optical tweezers to develop a new finger-sized chip that can study the activities of cells at the nanoscale, possibly offering an alternative to traditional drug testing.
A new nanocomposite material that exhibits hundreds of times greater strength than pure metals has been developed by researchers in Korea. The nanomaterial consists of graphene inserted in copper and nickel and exhibits strengths 500 times and 180 times, respectively, greater than that of pure metals.
A RMIT Univ. research collaboration with top scientists in Australia and Japan is advancing next-generation solar cells. Currently, cadmium or lead elements dominate colloidal nanocrystals synthesis, despite toxicity concerns. In its research, the team has discovered a new selective synthesis of tetrahedrite and famatinite copper antimony sulphide nanocrystals, which could be promising for printable solar cell applications.
Researchers at Georgia Tech are helping the U.S. military make key changes in how aircraft electronic systems, called avionics, are produced. The effort focuses on modifying the design of avionics software, especially the ways in which it interfaces with an aircraft's hardware and other software. The work is part of the U.S. Navy's Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) project.
Most solar cells today are inorganic and made of crystalline silicon. These cells tend to be expensive, rigid and relatively inefficient when it comes to converting sunlight into electricity. Work by a team of chemical engineers at Penn State Univ. and Rice Univ. may lead to a new class of inexpensive organic solar cells, one that skips difficult-to-scale fullerene acceptors and relies on molecular self-assembly instead.
Scientists at Switzerland have developed a new method for making antimicrobial surfaces that can eliminate bacteria under a minute. The breakthrough relies on a new sputtering technique that uses a highly ionized plasma to, for the first time, deposit antibacterial titanium oxide and copper films on 3-D polyester surfaces. This promotes the production of free radicals, which are powerful natural bactericides.
Liquid crystals are composed of long, thin, rod-like molecules which align themselves so they all point in the same direction. By controlling the alignment of these molecules, scientists can literally tie them in a knot. Researchers in the U.K. have done just this, tying knots in liquid crystals using a miniature Möbius strip made from silica particles.
Bending light beams to your whim sounds like a job for a wizard or an a complex array of bulky mirrors, lenses and prisms, but a few tiny liquid bubbles may be all that is necessary to open the doors for next-generation, high-speed circuits and displays, according to Penn State researchers.
Polymer, or plastic, solar cells contain Earth-abundant and environmentally benign materials, can be made flexible and lightweight, and can be fabricated using roll-to-roll technologies. But the cells’ power-conversion efficiency has been limited. A Northwestern Univ. research reports the design and synthesis of new polymer semiconductors a plastic solar cells with fill factors of 80%. This number is close to that of silicon solar cells.
Flexible thin film solar cells that can be produced by roll-to-roll manufacturing are a highly promising route to cheap solar electricity. Researchers in Switzerland report that they have designed a low-cost cadmium telluride solar cell technology based on metal foil substrates. By doping the cells with cooper, they have elevated efficiency from 8 to 11.5%.
A new robot at the Univ. of Pennsylvania has a leg up on its predecessors now that researchers have outfitted it with jumping and climbing abilities—something that could make it particularly useful for such tricky propositions as military search missions or supply transport.
Researchers in Germany have developed a technique that makes it possible to manufacture an assortment of unusually shaped and functionalizable nanostructures. The method, which involves vapor depositing the material onto a super-cooled rotating disk, lets them combine materials with widely varying chemical and physical properties at the smallest of scales.
Hold a magnifying glass over the driveway on a sunny day and it will focus sunlight into a single beam. Hold a prism in front of the window and the light will spread out into a perfect rainbow. Lenses like these have been used for thousands of years. Until now, all lenses have shared one big limitation: It’s impossible to focus light into a beam that’s smaller than half of the light’s wavelength.
Surgery to relieve the damaging pressure caused by hemorrhaging in the brain is a perfect job for a robot. That is the basic premise of a new image-guided surgical system under development at Vanderbilt Univ. It employs steerable needles about the size of those used for biopsies to penetrate the brain with minimal damage and suction away the blood clot that has formed.
Chemists at Oregon State Univ. have identified a compound that could significantly reduce the cost and potentially enable the mass commercial production of silicon nanostructures—materials that have huge potential in everything from electronics to biomedicine and energy storage. This extraordinary compound is called table salt.
A U.K. team has developed a new type of high-performance, ultra-versatile Raman laser that harnesses diamonds to produce light beams with more power and a wider range of colors than current Raman lasers. Achievements by the team include the first “tunable” diamond Raman lasers, where the color of the light can be adjusted to meet specific needs, and the first continuously operating diamond Raman laser.