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Solving molybdenum disulfide’s “thin” problem

March 30, 2015 7:55 am | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

The promising new material molybdenum disulfide has an inherent issue that’s steeped in irony. The material’s greatest asset, its monolayer thickness, is also its biggest challenge. Monolayer molybdenum disulfide’s ultra-thin structure is strong, lightweight and flexible, making it a good candidate for many applications, such as high-performance, flexible electronics.

Surface-modified nanoparticles endow coatings with combine properties

March 27, 2015 9:56 am | by Leibniz Institute for New Materials | News | Comments

Nanoparticles are specifically adapted to the particular application by Small Molecule Surface Modification. Thereby surfaces of work pieces or moldings are expected to exhibit several different functions at one and the same time. Fabricators and processors alike demand consistently high quality for their intermediate and final products. The properties of these goods usually also have to meet specific requirements.

Physicists solve low-temperature magnetic mystery

March 27, 2015 8:19 am | by Chelsea Whyte, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers have made an experimental breakthrough in explaining a rare property of an exotic magnetic material, potentially opening a path to a host of new technologies. From information storage to magnetic refrigeration, many of tomorrow's most promising innovations rely on sophisticated magnetic materials, and this discovery opens the door to harnessing the physics that governs those materials. 

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Chemists make new silicon-based nanomaterials

March 27, 2015 8:01 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Chemists from Brown Univ. have found a way to make new 2-D, graphene-like semiconducting nanomaterials using an old standby of the semiconductor world: silicon. In a paper published in Nanoletters, the researchers describe methods for making nanoribbons and nanoplates from a compound called silicon telluride. The materials are pure, p-type semiconductors that could be used in a variety of electronic and optical devices.

Using magnetic fields to understand high-temperature superconductivity

March 27, 2015 7:44 am | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

Taking our understanding of quantum matter to new levels, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are exposing high-temperature superconductors to very high magnetic fields, changing the temperature at which the materials become perfectly conducting and revealing unique properties of these substances.

Novel plastic could spur new green energy applications, artificial muscles

March 26, 2015 8:11 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

A plastic used in filters and tubing has an unusual trait: It can produce electricity when pulled or pressed. This ability has been used in small ways, but now researchers are coaxing fibers of the material to make even more electricity for a wider range of applications from green energy to "artificial muscles."

Copper atoms bring a potential new battery material to life

March 26, 2015 8:03 am | by Laura Mgrdichian, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Lithium-ion batteries are an important component of modern technology, powering phones, laptops, tablets and other portable devices when they are not plugged in. They even power electric vehicles. But to make batteries that last longer, provide more power, and are more energy efficient, scientists must find battery materials that perform better than those currently in use.

Desalination with nanoporous graphene membrane

March 26, 2015 7:53 am | by Dawn Levy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Less than 1% of Earth’s water is drinkable. Removing salt and other minerals from our biggest available source of water, seawater, may help satisfy a growing global population thirsty for fresh water for drinking, farming, transportation, heating, cooling and industry. But desalination is an energy-intensive process, which concerns those wanting to expand its application.

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Building a nanolaser using a single atomic sheet

March 25, 2015 12:33 pm | by Jennifer Langston, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Univ. of Washington scientists have built a new nanometer-sized laser that is energy efficient, easy to build and compatible with existing electronics. Lasers play essential roles in countless technologies, from medical therapies to metal cutters to electronic gadgets. But to meet modern needs in computation, communications, imaging and sensing, scientists are striving to create ever-smaller laser systems that also consume less energy.

Metals used in high-tech products face future supply risks

March 25, 2015 11:08 am | by Kevin Dennehy, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

In a new paper, a team of Yale Univ. researchers assesses the “criticality” of all 62 metals on the Periodic Table of Elements, providing key insights into which materials might become more difficult to find in the coming decades, which ones will exact the highest environmental costs and which ones simply cannot be replaced as components of vital technologies.

Manufacturing process could yield better solar cells, faster chips

March 25, 2015 10:57 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Videos | Comments

Computer chips, solar cells and other electronic devices have traditionally been based on silicon, the most famous of the semiconductors, that special class of materials whose unique electronic properties can be manipulated to turn electricity on and off the way faucets control the flow of water. There are other semiconductors. Gallium arsenide is one such material and it has certain technical advantages over silicon.

Carbon nanotube fibers make superior links to brain

March 25, 2015 10:33 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Carbon nanotube fibers invented at Rice Univ. may provide a way to communicate directly with the brain. The fibers have proven superior to metal electrodes for deep brain stimulation and to read signals from a neuronal network. Because they provide a two-way connection, they show promise for treating patients with neurological disorders while monitoring the real-time response of neural circuits in areas that control movement and mood.

New kind of “tandem” solar cell developed

March 25, 2015 7:41 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford Univ. have developed a new kind of solar cell that combines two different layers of sunlight-absorbing material in order to harvest a broader range of the sun’s energy. The development could lead to photovoltaic cells that are more efficient than those currently used in solar-power installations, the researchers say.

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Artificial hand responds to sensitively thanks to muscles made from smart metal wires

March 24, 2015 3:52 pm | by Saarland University | News | Comments

Engineers have taken a leaf out of nature's book by equipping an artificial hand with muscles made from shape-memory wire. The new technology enables the fabrication of flexible and lightweight robot hands for industrial applications and novel prosthetic devices. 

Tiny bio-robot is a germ suited-up with graphene quantum dots

March 24, 2015 3:42 pm | by University of Illinois at Chicago | News | Comments

As nanotechnology makes possible a world of machines too tiny to see, researchers are finding ways to combine living organisms with nonliving machinery to solve a variety of problems. Like other first-generation bio-robots, the new nanobot engineered at the University of Illinois at Chicago is a far cry from Robocop. It's a robotic germ.

Building shape inspires new material discovery

March 24, 2015 10:20 am | by Australian National University | News | Comments

Physicists inspired by the radical shape of a Canberra building have created a new type of material which enables scientists to put a perfect bend in light. The creation of a so-called topological insulator could transform the telecommunications industry's drive to build an improved computer chip using light.

New technique could bring quality-control tool for nanocomposites

March 23, 2015 4:10 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Layered nanocomposites containing tiny structures mixed into a polymer matrix are gaining commercial use, but their complex nature can hide defects that affect performance. Now researchers have developed a system capable of detecting such defects using a "Kelvin probe" scanning method with an atomic force microscope. The ability to look below the surface of nanocomposites represents a potential new quality-control tool for industry. 

Processing tech converts packing peanuts to battery components

March 23, 2015 7:53 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have shown how to convert waste packing peanuts into high-performance carbon electrodes for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that outperform conventional graphite electrodes, representing an environmentally friendly approach to reuse the waste.

Self-powered sensors that communicate could warn of bridge, building defects

March 20, 2015 10:28 am | by Tom Oswald, Media Communications, Michigan State Univ. | News | Comments

Imagine a bridge or a dam that could sense a structural defect before it happens, diagnose what the problem will be and alert the authorities before something bad happens. Three Michigan State Univ. researchers are developing a new technology known as substrate computing. This will allow sensing, communication and diagnostic computing, all within the substrate of a structure, using energy harvested from the structure itself.

Plasmonic ceramic materials key to advances in nanophotonics

March 19, 2015 3:52 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Progress in developing nanophotonic devices capable of withstanding high temperatures and harsh conditions for applications including data storage, sensing, health care and energy will depend on the research community and industry adopting new "plasmonic ceramic" materials, according to a commentary in Science.

Sharper nanoscopy

March 19, 2015 2:16 pm | by Phillip Schewe, Joint Quantum Institute | News | Comments

The 2014 chemistry Nobel Prize recognized important microscopy research that enabled greatly improved spatial resolution. This innovation, resulting in nanometer resolution, was made possible by making the emitter of the illumination quite small and by moving it quite close to the object being imaged. One problem with this approach is in such proximity, the emitter and object can interact with each other, blurring the resulting image.

Spot treatment

March 19, 2015 1:41 pm | by Sonia Fernandez, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | News | Comments

Acne, a scourge of adolescence, may be about to meet its ultra-high-tech match. By using a combination of ultrasound, gold-covered particles and lasers, researchers from Univ. of California, Santa Barbara and Sebacia have developed a targeted therapy that could potentially lessen the frequency and intensity of breakouts, relieving acne sufferers the discomfort and stress of dealing with severe and recurring pimples.

Researchers use shearing method to create nanofiber “gusher”

March 19, 2015 9:59 am | by Mick Kulikowski, North Carolina State Univ. News Services | News | Comments

Creating large amounts of polymer nanofibers dispersed in liquid is a challenge that has vexed researchers for years. But engineers and researchers at North Carolina State Univ. and one of its startup companies have now reported a method that can produce unprecedented amounts of polymer nanofibers, which have potential applications in filtration, batteries and cell scaffolding.

Rare-earth innovation to improve nylon manufacturing

March 19, 2015 8:56 am | by Laura Millsaps, Ames Laboratory Public Affairs | News | Comments

The Critical Materials Institute has created a new chemical process that makes use of the widely available rare-earth metal cerium to improve the manufacture of nylon. The process uses a cerium-based material made into nanometer-sized particles with a palladium catalyst to produce cyclohexanone, a key ingredient in the production of nylon.

Watching quantum dots “breathe” in response to stress

March 19, 2015 8:44 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory watched nanoscale semiconductor crystals expand and shrink in response to powerful pulses of laser light. This ultrafast “breathing” provides new insight about how such tiny structures change shape as they start to melt: information that can help guide researchers in tailoring their use for a range of applications.

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