From powerful computers to super-sensitive medical and environmental detectors that are faster, smaller, and use less energy—yes, we want them, but how do we get them? In research that is helping to lay the groundwork for the electronics of the future, University of Delaware scientists have confirmed the presence of a magnetic field generated by electrons which scientists had theorized existed, but that had never been proven until now.
Researchers have made a significant first step with newly engineered biomaterials for cell transplantation that could help lead to a possible cure for Type 1 diabetes, which affects about 3 million Americans. Georgia Institute of Technology engineers and Emory University clinicians have successfully engrafted insulin-producing cells into a diabetic mouse model, reversing diabetic symptoms in the animal in as little as 10 days.
The latest research from a Kansas State University chemical engineer may help improve humidity and pressure sensors, particularly those used in outer space. A research team is using graphene quantum dots to improve sensing devices in a two-fold project. The first part involves producing the graphene quantum dots. The second part of the project involves incorporating these quantum dots into electron-tunneling based sensing devices.
Anyone who has seen pictures of the giant, red-hot cauldrons in which steel is made—fed by vast amounts of carbon, and belching flame and smoke—would not be surprised to learn that steelmaking is one of the world’s leading industrial sources of greenhouse gases. But remarkably, a new process developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers could change all that.
Physicists working with optical tweezers have conducted work to provide an all-in-one guide to help calculate the effect the use of these tools has on the energy levels of atoms under study. This effect can change the frequency at which atoms emit or absorb light and microwave radiation and skew results; the new findings should help physicists foresee effects on future experiments.
Researchers have cautioned that more work is needed to understand how microorganisms respond to the disinfecting properties of silver nanoparticles, increasingly used in consumer goods and for medical and environmental applications. Although nanosilver has effective antimicrobial properties against certain pathogens, overexposure to silver nanoparticles can cause other potentially harmful organisms to rapidly adapt and flourish.
The allure of personalized medicine has made new, more efficient ways of sequencing genes a top research priority. One promising technique involves reading DNA bases using changes in electrical current as they are threaded through a nanoscopic hole. Now, a team led by University of Pennsylvania physicists has used solid-state nanopores to differentiate single-stranded DNA molecules containing sequences of a single repeating base.
Early-stage nanotech company SiO2 Nanotech has begun beta testing commercial applications of its antifogging technology for corporate partners. The new technology, which was developed from patented research conducted in the laboratory of Nicole Herbots, professor emerita in the ASU Department of Physics, can be used on a variety of different surfaces, including glass and plastics.
Duke University biomedical engineers have grown 3D human heart muscle that acts just like natural tissue. This advancement could be important in serving as a platform for testing new heart disease medicines. The “heart patch” grown in the laboratory from human cells overcomes two major obstacles facing cell-based therapies—the patch conducts electricity at about the same speed as natural heart cells and it “squeezes” appropriately.
Researchers have developed a technique to isolate a single water molecule inside a buckyball, or C60, and to drive motion of the so-called “big” nonpolar ball through the encapsulated “small” polar H2O molecule, a controlling transport mechanism in a nanochannel under an external electric field. They expect this method will lead to an array of new applications.
Thermoelectric materials can be used to turn waste heat into electricity or to provide refrigeration without any liquid coolants, and a research team from the University of Michigan has found a way to nearly double the efficiency of a particular class of them that's made with organic semiconductors.
For the first time, researchers from institutions around the country have conducted an identical series of toxicology tests evaluating lung-related health impacts associated with widely used engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). The study provides comparable health risk data from multiple laboratories, which should help regulators develop policies to protect workers and consumers who come into contact with ENMs.
A team from Argonne National Laboratory has worked for years to develop a new type of solar cell known as organic photovoltaics (OPVs). Because of their potential to reduce costs for both fabrication and materials, OPVs could be much cheaper to manufacture than conventional solar cells and have a smaller environmental impact as well. However, they aren’t as efficient as conventional solar cells due to one limitation.
In a promising development for diabetes treatment, researchers have developed a network of nanoscale particles that can be injected into the body and release insulin when blood-sugar levels rise, maintaining normal blood sugar levels for more than a week in animal-based laboratory tests.
A Rice University laboratory’s cagey strategy turns negatively charged carbon nanotubes into liquid crystals that could enhance the creation of fibers and films. The latest step toward making macromaterials out of microscopic nanotubes depends on cage-like crown ethers that capture potassium cations.
Even without certification by Guinness World Records, it would be easy to believe a short, 250-frame film recently created by an IBM Research team is the world’s smallest. Named “A Boy and His Atom,” the movie was created by precisely placing thousands of atoms using a scanning tunneling microscope. This type of atomic-level control is the result of years of efforts by IBM to determine the lower limits for storing data.
By using light, researchers at University of California, Santa Barbara have manipulated the quantum state of a single atomic-sized defect in diamond—the nitrogen-vacancy center—in a method that not only allows for more unified control than conventional processes, but is more versatile, and opens up the possibility of exploring new solid-state quantum systems.
The tail of a seahorse can be compressed to about half its size before permanent damage occurs, engineers at the University of California, San Diego have found. The tail’s exceptional flexibility is due to its structure, made up of bony, armored plates, which slide past each other. Researchers are hoping to use a similar structure to create a flexible robotic arm equipped with muscles made out of polymer.
An old, somewhat passé, trick used to purify protein samples based on their affinity for water has found new fans at NIST, where materials scientists are using it to divvy up solutions of carbon nanotubes, separating the metallic nanotubes from semiconductors. They say it's a fast, easy, and cheap way to produce high-purity samples of carbon nanotubes for use in nanoscale electronics and many other applications.
In 2012, more than 3 million people had stents inserted in their coronary arteries. But the longer a stent is in the body, the greater the risk of late-stage side effects. Studies have investigated iron- and magnesium-based bioabsorbable stents, but iron rusts and magnesium dissolves too fast. Recent research shows that a certain type of zinc alloy might be the answer.
Computer simulations conducted in Germany have shown that the reduction of natural dental wear might be the main cause for widely spread non-carius cervical lesions—the loss of enamel and dentine at the base of the crown—in our teeth. The discovery was made by examining the biomechanical behavior of teeth using finite element analysis methods typically applied to engineering problems.
Squeeze a piece of silicone and it quickly returns to its original shape, as squishy as ever. But scientists at Rice University have discovered that the liquid crystal phase of silicone becomes 90% stiffer when silicone is gently and repeatedly compressed. Their research could lead to new strategies for self-healing materials or biocompatible materials that mimic human tissues.
Using uniquely sensitive experimental techniques, scientists have found that laws of quantum physics—believed primarily to influence at only sub-atomic levels—can actually impact on a molecular level. The study shows that movement of the ring-like molecule pyrrole over a metal surface runs counter to the classical physics that govern our everyday world.
In a process comparable to squeezing an elephant through a pinhole, researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have designed a way to engineer atoms capable of funneling light through ultrasmall channels. Their research is the latest in a series of recent findings related to how light and matter interact at the atomic scale.
Sometimes, all it takes is an extremely small amount of material to make a big difference. Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have recently discovered that they could substitute one-atom-thick graphene layers for oil-based lubricants on sliding steel surfaces, enabling a dramatic reduction in the amount of wear and friction.