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Research explores applications for new field of electronics

March 7, 2012 4:37 am | News | Comments

By looking at the way electrons are excited, researchers can gain a better understanding of the new field of transparent electronics. A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researcher has developed a new approach to investigate the interplay of excitonic effects and electron doping.

Transistors promise more powerful logic, more logical power

March 7, 2012 3:01 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Broadly speaking, the two major areas of research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Microsystems Technology Laboratory are electronics—transistors in particular—and microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS—tiny mechanical devices with moving parts. Both strains of research could have significant implications for manufacturing in the United States, but at least for the moment, the market for transistor innovation is far larger.

Preventing contamination in recycling

March 6, 2012 9:15 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Because it saves so much energy and money, aluminum recycling continues to expand. But a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis finds that this expansion could run into problems unless measures are taken to reduce impurities that can build up as aluminum is recycled over and over again.

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A jump forward in understanding the nature of supercapacitors

March 6, 2012 4:56 am | News | Comments

A research group at Drexel University has produced the first quantitative picture of the ionic liquid structure in a promising type of supercapacitor that uses microporous carbon electrodes. Ion adsorption in these electrodes produces the excellent performance exhibited by the supercapacitors, and the research could guide the design of better storage devices.

Researchers discover new method of making nanoparticles

March 6, 2012 3:46 am | News | Comments

A team from the University of Arkansas and University of Utah have discovered a new method of making nanoparticles and nanofilms to be used in developing better electronic devices. The researchers' nanoparticles, made of gold and deposited onto silicon substrates by unique chemical process, are nontoxic and inexpensive to make.

New nanoglue is thin, supersticky

March 5, 2012 10:26 am | News | Comments

Engineers at the University of California, Davis, have invented a superthin nanoglue that could be used in new-generation microchip fabrication. Conventional glues form a thick layer between two surfaces, while the new nanoglue, which conducts heat and can be printed, or applied, in patterns, forms a layer the thickness of only a few molecules.

Engineer discovers spider silk conducts heat

March 5, 2012 7:38 am | News | Comments

Xinwei Wang, an Iowa State University associate professor of mechanical engineering, is leading a study that found spider silk is very good at transferring heat. Spider silk, in fact, conducts heat as well or better than most metals.

Butterfly wings inspire thermal imaging breakthrough at GE

March 2, 2012 9:39 am | News | Comments

Researchers at GE, working with the help of a DARPA grant for sensor development, found that when infrared radiation hit the wing of the Morpho butterfly, the nanostructures on the wing heated up and expanded, causing iridescence, or color change. By adding carbon nanotubes, scientists can predictably affect the rate of radiation absorption and increase sensitivity.

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The fickleness of the silicon-drift detector

March 2, 2012 7:06 am | News | Comments

Although the tiny device measures no more than 8 x 8 mm it takes eight weeks to produce a silicon drift detector (SDD), or silicon drift diode, which is a basic spectroscopic component of instruments like medical X-ray systems and detectors at CERN. Scientists in Norway represent one of just three worldwide suppliers of these exceedingly sensitive and difficult-to-produce devices.

3M adhesive helps set new Guinness World Records title

March 2, 2012 5:14 am | News | Comments

3M Scotch-Weld Instant Adhesive was recently responsible for a Guinness World Records-setting feat, lifting a 8.1 metric ton forklift in the air for one hour. The successful demonstration set a new world record for the heaviest weight lifted with glue.

Solved: The mystery of the nanoscale crop circles

March 2, 2012 4:03 am | News | Comments

A useful alloy of gold and silicon, called a eutectic, melts at a far lower temperature than either of its components. Until now, however, its odd behavior on the nanoscale has confounded researchers. By analyzing peculiar "nanoscale crop circles" formed from ultrathin layers of gold on silicon, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists have discovered the eutectic alloy's unique properties, including its special promise for engineering and processing nanoscale materials.

Innovation to allow precise geologic dating, even on Mars

March 1, 2012 8:13 am | by Lynn Yarris | News | Comments

To identify a Martian rock sample, the rover Curiosity fires an infrared laser beam to ablate, or vaporize, the target, which generates ionized atoms to be analyzed by a spectrometer. Applied Spectra and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed an improved version that can do the same with entire molecules, allowing precise geochronology both on Earth and in space.

A lighter train can be built with polyurethane

March 1, 2012 8:07 am | News | Comments

The diesel engine housing for a train has to be tough enough to protect the engine at high speeds, but also to contain fire and oil leaks  Researchers in Germany who have developed an extremely durable polyurethane sandwich material say it’s tough enough to replace aluminum or steel in these types of applications, and at a weight savings of up to 35%.

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Carbon dioxide catchers

March 1, 2012 4:16 am | News | Comments

Approximately 75% of electricity used in the United States is produced by coal-burning power plants that spew carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. To reduce this effect, many researchers are searching for porous materials to filter out the carbon dioxide generated by these plants before it reaches the atmosphere, a process commonly known as carbon capture. But identifying these materials is easier said than done.

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.

In surprise finding, proteins self-assemble into nanofibers

March 1, 2012 2:58 am | News | Comments

A new method for creating nanofibers, developed by researchers at Polytechnic Institute of New York University, relies on the previously unknown ability for alpha helical coiled-coil proteins to spontaneously come together and self-assemble into nanofibers. The protein’s ability to carry molecules suggests the discovery could be important in drug delivery efforts.

Exotic material boosts electromagnetism safely

February 29, 2012 6:26 am | News | Comments

By using exotic man-made materials, scientists from Duke University and Boston College believe they can greatly enhance the forces of electromagnetism (EM), one of the four fundamental forces of nature, without harming living beings or damaging electrical equipment.

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.

New measuring techniques can improve safety of nanoparticles

February 28, 2012 5:46 am | News | Comments

Using high-precision microscopy and X-ray scattering techniques, University of Oregon researchers have gained eye-opening insights into the process of applying green chemistry to nanotechnology that results in high yields, improves efficiency, and dramatically reduces waste and potential negative exposure to human health or the environment.

IBM captures first-ever image of single-molecule charge distribution

February 28, 2012 3:29 am | News | Comments

Scientists using a variant of atomic force microscopy called Kelvin probe force microscopy, at low temperatures and in ultrahigh vacuum, have recently obtained the first image of the charge distribution within a single molecule. The molecule is the same as the type used in IBM’s single-molecule logic switch.

Researchers develop new approach for producing 3D microchips

February 28, 2012 3:28 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a new approach to MEMS design that enables engineers to design 3D configurations, using existing fabrication processes; with this approach, the researchers built a MEMS device that enables 3D sensing on a single chip. The tiny device contain microscopic elements that can be engineered to reach heights of hundreds of microns above the chip's surface.

Scientists see red on NASA cuts of Mars missions

February 27, 2012 5:06 pm | by Alicia Chang and Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writers | News | Comments

Earlier this month, the president's budget canceled joint U.S.-European robotic missions to Mars in 2016 and 2018. Now top science officials say they are scrambling to come up with a plan by the end of the summer for a cut-rate journey to the red planet in 2018. That's when Mars passes closest to Earth, something that only happens once every 15 years.

Solution found to spintronics mystery

February 27, 2012 4:52 pm | by Lynn Yarris | News | Comments

A long-standing controversy regarding the semiconductor gallium manganese arsenide, one of the most promising materials for spintronic technology, looks to have been resolved. Researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Notre Dame University found the that the spintronic properties do not arise from a valence energy band, as many scientists have argued.

Catalyst allows plastics to be made without petroleum

February 27, 2012 3:42 am | News | Comments

A new catalyst developed by chemists in The Netherlands with cooperation from Dow Benelux can convert materials to key components of various plastics, medicines, and paint without the use of petroleum. Made from tiny iron spheres, the catalyst can operate on a wood-like biomass raw materials.

Isotope fight in magma offers clue to igneous rock formation

February 27, 2012 3:25 am | News | Comments

As molten rock cools along a gradient, atoms want to move towards the cool end because hotter atoms move faster than cooler atoms. Although all isotopes of the same element want to move there, isotopes with more mass have more momentum, pushing past collisions. This phenomenon in liquids, called fractionation, has only recently been cracked by researchers.

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