Molecular knots are found in DNA, proteins, and plastics, and can have major effects on a substance’s properties (like rubber). Deliberately creating knots in the laboratory, however, is difficult. Researchers in Finland and U.K. used self-assembly techniques to create a complicated pentafoil knot using a thread just 16 nm long.
Astronomers are 100% positive asteroid 2005 YU55 is no threat to Earth, but its proximity, passing closer to us than the moon on Nov. 8, is giving researchers a chance to study it by radar. This is the type of carbon-rich asteroid that NASA is aiming to someday visit with astronauts.
They shrink when you heat them. Most materials expand when heated, but a few contract. Now engineers at the California Institute of Technology have figured out how one of these curious materials, scandium trifluoride, does the trick—a finding, they say, that will lead to a deeper understanding of all kinds of materials.
Physicists from the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a theory that describes, in a unified manner, the coexistence of liquid and pinned solid phases of electrons in two dimensions under the influence of a magnetic field. The theory also describes the transition between these phases as the field is varied.
University of Toronto researchers have demonstrated, for the first time, the key mechanism behind how energy levels align in a critical group of advanced materials. This discovery is a significant for the development of sustainable technologies such as dye-sensitized solar cells and organic light-emitting diodes.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen are behind the development of a new method that will make it possible to develop drugs faster and greener. This will lead to cheaper medicine for consumers.
A team from The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has developed a fully functional flexible non-volatile resistive random access memory where a memory cell can be randomly accessed, written, and erased on a plastic substrate.
Researchers in France have produced an unusual solid nanocomposite made of nanoparticles and DNA that they report has an energy density equivalent to that of nitroglycerine. The explosion occurs when the substance is heated to 410 C, offering the possibility of using it as at a fuel source for microsystems.
New materials are crucial to building a clean energy economy, but today the development cycle is too slow: around 18 years from conception to commercialization. To speed up this process, a team of researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology teamed up to develop a new tool, called the Materials Project.
A team of NASA scientists has won funding to make a mainstay of science fiction a reality. They are to study the concept for remotely capturing planetary or atmospheric particles and delivering them to a robotic rover or orbiting spacecraft for analysis. In essence, a tractor beam.
Inspired by the skin of the sea cucumber, which is normally soft and flexible but becomes rigid in self defense, biomedical engineers at Case Western Reserve University have built a nanostructured polymer mesh that is firm enough to reach the cortex, but begins unlinking in water, causing less brain damage.
A breakthrough in components for next-generation batteries could come from special materials that transform their structure to perform better over time. A team of researchers at Argonne National Laboratory discovered that nanotubes composed of titanium dioxide can switch their phase as a battery is cycled, gradually boosting their operational capacity.
In 2005, Richard Schrock won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing catalysts for olefin metathesis, a widely used reaction which involves breaking and making carbon-carbon double bonds to create new ones. Until now, however, the configuration of the olefin products has been unpredictable. Boston College researchers have developed a catalyst that offers greater control over this process.
A research team has recently discovered that silicon carbide, a commonly used semiconductor, contains crystal imperfections that can be controlled at a quantum mechanical level. This level of fine-tuning might allow developers to exploit quantum physics in this material at the nanoscale.
Solar power may be on the rise, but solar cells are only as efficient as the amount of sunlight they collect. Under the direction of a new McCormick professor, Northwestern University researchers have developed a new material that absorbs a wide range of wavelengths and could lead to more efficient and less expensive solar technology.
Heated to extreme temperatures of up to 150 million C, the plasma in ITER's giant experimental fusion reactor will be fed a fuel of frozen pellets of deuterium-tritium, fired into the tokamak vacuum vessel by pellet injectors. This new system, now under testing, is a key component for what will be the largest-ever tokamak.
Managing light to carry computer data is possible today with laser light beams that are guided along a fiber-optic cable. These waves consist of countless billions of photons, which carry information down the fiber across continents. A research team at the University of Alberta wants to refine the optical transmission of information by using a single photon.
Scientists at IBM and ABB are using supercomputers to study and potentially develop a new type of high-voltage insulator that will improve the efficiency of transmitting electricity. An improved insulator has the potential to transform the power grid by reducing energy loss and outages caused by material deterioration when exposed to weather.
After a decade of research into finding ways to coat fibers with silver nanoparticles, materials researchers in Switzerland have, for the first time, created a textile material permanently coated with a durable, nanometer-thin layer of gold. The layer is applied with an argon-ion plasma process.
The robotics company famous for building BigDog, a four-legged robot that moves in a fashion that is both strange and disturbingly life-like, has added arms to its two-legged variant, PETMAN. A new video from Boston Dynamics shows in the anthromorphic robot in motion.
Last year, the Naval Research Laboratory’s electromagnetic railgun program achieved a milestone with a world record 33-megajoule firing. This year, the long-range weapon logged its 1,000 firing as physicists and materials scientists experiment with new materials and muzzle designs.
Chemist Jay Groves at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has led a study in which artificial membranes were embedded with fixed arrays of gold nanoparticles, which controlled the spacing of proteins and other cellular molecules. The invention gave researchers an opportunity to study how spatial patterns of chemical and physical properties influenced cells’ behavior.
As he tailors one of the world's finest imaging instruments to tackle one of science's most baffling challenges, Tom Flores feels like he's playing a microscopic game of Where’s Waldo . In the children's books by Martin Handford, readers pore over illustrations crammed with hundreds of people to search for Waldo and his trademark red-and-white-striped shirt. Flores, a junior majoring in physics at Lehigh University, is on a quest for something more elusive—the tiny carbon nanotube.
Researchers in Australia have discovered a eucalyptus species that features unique self-cleaning and water-repellent properties. After duplicating the geometry of the plant’s leaves in the lab, scientists were able to replicate the superhydrophobic properties.
Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are currently produced using heavy-metal doped glass in order to achieve high efficiency and brightness. Engineers in Canada have re-constructed the high refractive index of these OLEDs on a plastic substrate, making the result light, flexible, and rugged.