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For batteries, one material does it all

May 4, 2015 8:22 am | by Univ. of Maryland | News | Comments

Engineers at the Univ. of Maryland have created a battery that is made entirely out of one material, which can both move electricity and store it. Envision an Oreo cookie. Most batteries have at either end a layer of material for the electrodes like the chocolate cookies to help move ions though the creamy frosting (the electrolyte). The team made a single material that incorporates the properties of both the electrodes and electrolyte.

From brittle to plastic in one breath

May 4, 2015 7:49 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

What if peanut brittle, under certain conditions, behaved like taffy? Something like that happens to a 2-D dichalcogenide analyzed by scientists at Rice Univ. Rice researchers calculated that atomically thin layers of molybdenum disulfide can take on the qualities of plastic through exposure to a sulfur-infused gas at the right temperature and pressure.

Researchers probe chemistry, topography and mechanics with one instrument

May 4, 2015 7:39 am | by Dawn Levy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

The probe of an atomic force microscope (AFM) scans a surface to reveal details at a resolution 1,000 times greater than that of an optical microscope. That makes AFM the premier tool for analyzing physical features, but it cannot tell scientists anything about chemistry. For that they turn to the mass spectrometer.

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Practical gel that simply “clicks” for biomedical applications

May 1, 2015 10:17 am | by Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

If you opt to wear soft contact lenses, chances are you are using hydrogels on a daily basis. Made up of polymer chains that are able to absorb water, hydrogels used in contacts are flexible and allow oxygen to pass through the lenses, keeping eyes healthy. Hydrogels can be up to 99% water and as a result are similar in composition to human tissues.

How metal contamination makes gasoline production inefficient

May 1, 2015 8:45 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Scientists have identified key mechanisms of the aging process of catalyst particles that are used to refine crude oil into gasoline. This advance could lead to more efficient gasoline production. Their recent experiments studied so-called fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) particles that are used to break long-chain hydrocarbons in crude oil into smaller, more valuable hydrocarbons like gasoline.

Making robots more human

May 1, 2015 8:18 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Most people are naturally adept at reading facial expressions to tell what others are feeling. Now scientists have developed ultra-sensitive, wearable sensors that can do the same thing. Their technology, reported in the ACS Nano, could help robot developers make their machines more human.

Engineering a better solar cell

May 1, 2015 7:57 am | by Renee Gastineau, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

One of the fastest-growing areas of solar energy research is with materials called perovskites. These promising light harvesters could revolutionize the solar and electronics industries because they show potential to convert sunlight into electricity more efficiently and less expensively than today’s silicon-based semiconductors.

Close-ups of two "packaged" photonic thermometers, each with its ponytail of optical fibers. A droplet of hardened, transparent epoxy (center) connects a fiber optic array (top) to a photonic chip containing two temperature-sensing devices (bottom). The t

Photonic thermometers: Out of the lab, into a bucket of water

April 30, 2015 2:48 pm | by Jennifer Lauren Lee, NIST | News | Comments

A new class of tiny chip-based thermometers being developed by PML’s Sensor Science Division has the potential to revolutionize the way temperature is gauged. These sensors, which measure temperature using light, are called photonic thermometers, and compared to traditional thermometry techniques they promise to be smaller, more robust, resistant to electromagnetic interference, and potentially self-calibrating.

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A simulation of colloids in liquid crystals

Desirable defects: A new meta-material based on colloids and liquid crystals

April 30, 2015 1:52 pm | by International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA) | News | Comments

A new method made computer models of colloidal suspensions in liquid crystals subjected to electrical fields modulated over time. These composite materials have been receiving plenty of attention for their optical properties for some time now, but the use of electrical fields to modify them at will is an absolute novelty.

SCU15 is a unique superconducting undulator for production of high-brilliance x-rays installed in the ANKA storage ring. Courtesy of KIT/ANKA/BNG

Novel superconducting undulator provides first X-ray light at ANKA

April 30, 2015 12:16 pm | by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Synchrotron radiation facilities provide insights into the world of very small structures like microbes, viruses or nanomaterials and rely on dedicated magnet technology, which is optimized to produce highest intensity beams. The ANKA synchrotron radiation facility at KIT and Babcock Noell GmbH now took a technological leap forward: They have successfully developed, installed, and tested a novel full-length superconducting undulator.

Chemists cook up three-atom-thick electronic sheets

April 30, 2015 8:41 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Making thin films out of semiconducting materials is analogous to how ice grows on a windowpane: When the conditions are just right, the semiconductor grows in flat crystals that slowly fuse together, eventually forming a continuous film. This process of film deposition is common for traditional semiconductors like silicon or gallium arsenide, but Cornell Univ. scientists are pushing the limits for how thin they can go.

Artificial photosynthesis could help make fuels, plastics and medicine

April 30, 2015 8:15 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

The global industrial sector accounts for more than half of the total energy used every year. Now scientists are inventing a new artificial photosynthetic system that could one day reduce industry’s dependence on fossil fuel-derived energy by powering part of the sector with solar energy and bacteria.

A dye-doped PNLC cell in the transparent and opaque states, placed on a printed sheet of paper. In the transparent state, the clear background image can be seen because of the high transmittance of this cell. In the opaque state, black color is provided a

Windows that act like an LCD screen

April 29, 2015 2:04 pm | by John Arnst, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

The secret desire of urban daydreamers staring out their office windows at the sad brick walls of the building opposite them may soon be answered thanks to transparent light shutters. A novel liquid crystal technology allows displays to flip between transparent and opaque states— hypothetically letting you switch your view in less than a millisecond from urban decay to the Chesapeake Bay.

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A three-dimensional reconstruction of chip features from measurements using the NIST model-library method.

Detecting effects of 3-D shapes in nanoscale chip features

April 28, 2015 11:26 am | by NIST | News | Comments

As microchip feature dimensions approach atomic scale, it becomes formidably difficult to measure their size and shape. According to the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, within the next couple of years the typical length of a transistor’s “gate”—its on-off switch—will be less than 20 nanometers (nm, billionths of a meter).

TU Wien and MedUni Vienna have developed artificial blood vessels, which are broken down by the body and replaced with its own tissue.

New material for creating artificial blood vessels

April 28, 2015 11:04 am | by Vienna Medical University | News | Comments

Blocked blood vessels can quickly become dangerous. It is often necessary to replace a blood vessel—either by another vessel taken from the body or even by artificial vascular prostheses. Tesearchers have developed artificial blood vessels made from a special elastomer material, which has excellent mechanical properties. Over time, these artificial blood vessels are replaced by endogenous material.

Heat makes electrons spin in magnetic superconductors

April 28, 2015 10:31 am | by Academy of Finland | News | Comments

Physicists have shown how heat can be used to control the magnetic properties of matter. The finding helps in the development of more efficient mass memories. In the study, the researchers showed how heat is converted into a spin current in magnetic superconductors. Magnetic superconductors can be fabricated by placing a superconducting film on top of a magnetic insulator.

When mediated by superconductivity, light pushes matter million times more

April 28, 2015 10:24 am | by University of Jyväskylä | News | Comments

When a mirror reflects light, it experiences a slight push. This radiation pressure can be increased considerably with the help of a small superconducting island. The finding paves a way for the studies of mechanical oscillations at the level of a single photon, the quantum of light.

Molybdenum disulfide encapsulated between layers of boron nitride. Courtesy of Gwan-Hyoung Lee/Yonsei University

Two-dimensional semiconductor comes clean

April 27, 2015 2:39 pm | by Holly Evarts, Columbia University | News | Comments

In 2013 James Hone, Wang Fong-Jen Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia Engineering, and colleagues at Columbia demonstrated that they could dramatically improve the performance of graphene—highly conducting two-dimensional (2-D) carbon—by encapsulating it in boron nitride (BN), an insulating material with a similar layered structure.

Negative electronic compressibility: More is less in novel material

April 27, 2015 2:19 pm | by Boston College | News | Comments

Add water to a half-filled cup and the water level rises. This everyday experience reflects a positive material property of the water-cup system. But what if adding more water lowers the water level by deforming the cup? This would mean a negative compressibility. Now, a quantum version of this phenomenon, called negative electronic compressibility (NEC), has been discovered.

Juejun Hu and colleagues developed a way to embed very thin glass photonic devices such as flexible microdisk resonators and waveguides in alternating layers of soft and stiff polymers. Their flexible plastic device sustained being bent thousands of times

Bendable glass devices

April 27, 2015 12:43 pm | by Denis Paiste, MIT | News | Comments

A special class of glass materials known as chalcogenide glasses holds promise for speeding integration of photonic and electronic devices with functions as diverse as data transfer and chemical sensing. Juejun "JJ" Hu, the Merton C. Flemings Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, is finding new ways to deploy these glasses with surprising flexibility.

Melting material in preparation for producing a new type of magnet

Ames Laboratory scientists create cheaper magnetic material for cars, wind turbines

April 27, 2015 12:21 pm | by Ames Laboratory | News | Comments

Karl A. Gschneidner and fellow scientists at Ames Laboratory have created a new magnetic alloy that is an alternative to traditional rare-earth permanent magnets. The new alloy—a potential replacement for high-performance permanent magnets found in automobile engines and wind turbines—eliminates the use of one of the scarcest and costliest rare earth elements, dysprosium, and instead uses cerium, the most abundant rare earth.

Daniel Wilson Ph.D. researcher with UAV and drogue

Sky-high refuelling for UAVs

April 24, 2015 11:13 am | by Univ. of Sydney | News | Comments

A Univ. of Sydney researcher has designed and successfully tested a method for autonomously docking drones for refueling or recharging, in mid-air. He used a combination of precise measurements from an infrared camera, with GPS and inertial sensors to allow the sky-high docking to occur.

The ‘gate sensor’ is so accurate that it can detect the charge of a single electron in less than one microsecond.

Ultra-sensitive sensor detects individual electrons

April 24, 2015 10:25 am | by SINC | News | Comments

A Spanish-led team of European researchers at the Univ. of Cambridge has created an electronic device so accurate that it can detect the charge of a single electron in less than one microsecond. It has been dubbed the "gate sensor" and could be applied in quantum computers of the future to read information stored in the charge or spin of a single electron.

A tetrahedron is a polyhedron composed of four triangular faces, three of which meet at each corner or vertex. It has six edges and four vertices.

Revolutionary discovery leads to invention of new "building blocks"

April 24, 2015 10:16 am | by Univ. of Akron | News | Comments

Macromolecular science will have to add a new giant molecule to its lexicon thanks to new and cutting-edge polymer research at The Univ. of Akron (UA). The research team led by Stephen Z.D. Cheng, professor at UA’s college of polymer science and polymer engineering, invented a new thinking pathway in the design and synthesis of macromolecules—the backbone of modern polymers—by creating an original class of giant tetrahedra.

Heat makes electrons’ spin in magnetic superconductors

April 24, 2015 9:53 am | by Academy of Finland | News | Comments

Physicists have shown how heat can be exploited for controlling magnetic properties of matter. The finding helps in the development of more efficient mass memories. The result was published in Physical Review Letters. The international research group behind the breakthrough included Finnish researchers from the University of Jyväskylä and Aalto Univ.

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