We use aluminum to make planes lightweight, store sodas in recyclable containers, keep the walls of our homes energy efficient and ensure that the Thanksgiving turkey is cooked to perfection. Now, thanks to a group of Japanese researchers, there may soon be a new application for the versatile metal: hydrogen storage for fuel cells.
Researchers at NJIT have developed a flexible battery made with carbon nanotubes that could potentially power electronic devices with flexible displays. According to its developers, this battery can be made as small as a pinhead or as large as a carpet in a living room.
Univ. of Delaware materials scientists have successfully developed a compact, stretchable wire-shaped supercapacitor based on continuous carbon nanotube fibers. When subjected to a tensile strain of 100% over 10,000 charge/discharge cycles, the CNT supercapacitor’s electrochemical performance improved to 108%.
An international team of scientists have discovered a new type of quantum material whose lopsided behavior may lend itself to creating novel electronics. The material is called bismuth tellurochloride, or BiTeCl. It belongs to a class of materials called topological insulators that conduct electrical current with perfect efficiency on their surfaces, but not through their middles.
Semiconductors have had a nice run, but for certain applications, such as astrophysics, they are being edged out by superconductors. Ben Mazin, asst. prof. of physics at the Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, has developed a superconducting detector array that measures the energy of individual photons.
Researchers from the Univ. of Helsinki, FInland, have managed to draw in an alcohol-based solution using laser light. Light-sensitive polymers are not new, but a new soluble, photosensitive polymer can be dissolved partially by a 365-nm laser, allowing a ray of light can “draw” in an ethanol-based dispersion of the polymer.
A team of researchers has discovered a bacterium in hot springs which needs rare earth materials such as lanthanum, cerium or neodymium to grow. The bacteria need the valuable metals to produce energy as co-factor for the enzyme methanol dehydrogenase, with which the microbes produce their energy. The use of rare earths is possibly more widespread among bacteria than previously thought.
An international team of researchers has used pioneering electron microscopy techniques to discover an important mechanism behind the reaction of metallic nanoparticles with the environment. Crucially, the research led by the Univ. of York, shows that oxidation of metals proceeds much more rapidly in nanoparticles than at the macroscopic scale.
Nitric oxide (NO) is one of the most important signaling molecules in living cells, carrying messages within the brain and coordinating immune system functions. In many cancerous cells, levels are perturbed, but very little is known about how NO behaves in both healthy and cancerous cells. Until now.
Belgian nanoelectronics research center Imec and JSR, a materials company based in Tokyo, Japan, announce that they have successfully used JSR’s innovative PA (Photo-patternable Adhesive) material for wafer-scale processing of lab-on-chip devices. Using this material, imec has processed microfluidic cell-sorter devices, merging microheaters and sensors with wafer-scale polymer microfluidics.
A new class of materials developed at the Univ. of Arkansas may influence the next generation of nanodevices, in which integrated circuits are composed of many layers of dissimilar materials. The researchers used innovative cross-sectional scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy to develop the first direct view of the physical and chemical behavior of electrons and atoms at boundary regions within the dissimilar materials.
A team of experimental and theoretical physicists from the Univ. of Stuttgart have developed a method to study the influence an electron has on atoms in a Bose-Einstein condensate, which is a ultracold cloud of atoms at near absolute zero. This advance allows scientists to study the interactions between electrons and atoms without the technical challenge of “trapping” electrons individually.
Researchers in Basque country in Spain have developed and patented a new source of light emitter based on boron nitride nanotubes. Suitable for developing high-efficiency optoelectronic devices, the structural defects in the nanotubes help make it extremely efficient in ultraviolet light emission.
Until recently, the preparation of phosphor materials, key components in white LED lighting, was more an art than a science. It has been based on finding crystal structures that act as hosts to activator ions, which convert the higher-energy blue light to lower-energy yellow/orange light. By determining simple guidelines, researchers have recently made it possible to optimize phosphors allowing for brighter, more efficient lights.
Amit Goyal and his team of research scientists are using copper oxide to redesign the face of solar power. The once-dismissed solar semiconductor, one of the first discovered, is the basis of ongoing research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where scientists are creating cheaper and safer alternatives for solar conducting technology.
Taking inspiration from the human immune system, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have created a new material that can be programmed to identify an endless variety of molecules. The new material resembles tiny sheets of Velcro, each just one-hundred nanometers across. But instead of securing your sneakers, this molecular Velcro mimics the way natural antibodies recognize viruses and toxins.
Gems are known for the beauty of the light that passes through them. But it is the fixed atomic arrangements of these crystals that determine the light frequencies permitted passage. Now a Sandia National Laboratories-led team has created a plasmonic, or plasma-containing, crystal that is tunable. The effect is achieved by adjusting a voltage applied to the plasma.
Researchers at Oregon State Univ. and the Univ. of Oregon announced a scientific advance that has eluded researchers for more than 100 years—a platform to study and fully understand the aqueous chemistry of aluminum, one of the world’s most important metals.
A brain stimulation technique that is used to treat tough cases of depression could be considerably improved with a new headpiece designed by Univ. of Michigan engineers. Computer simulations showed that the headpiece—a square array of 64 circular metallic coils—could one day help researchers and doctors hit finer targets in the brain that are twice as deep as they can reach today, and without causing pain.
After more than 40 years of intense research, experimental physicists still seek to explore the rich behavior of electrons confined to a 2-D crystalline structure exposed to large magnetic fields. Now a team in Europe has developed a new experimental method to simulate these systems using a crystal made of neutral atoms and laser light.
A lens with ten times the resolution of any current lens, making it a powerful new tool for the biological sciences, has been developed by researchers at the Univ. of Sydney. The lens was created using fiber-optic manufacturing technology, and is a metamaterial, or a material with completely new properties not found in nature.
The ability to shrink laboratory-scale processes to automated chip-sized systems would revolutionize biotechnology and medicine. One of the challenges of lab-on-a-chip technology is the need for miniaturized pumps to move solutions through microchannels. A super-thin silicon membrane developed at the Univ. of Rochester could now make it possible to shrink the power source, paving the way for diagnostic devices the size of a credit card.
In a breakthrough described by one international expert as “a wonderful piece of lateral thinking”, a team of researchers from The Univ. of Western Australia has helped develop a novel nanoparticle light filter system which stimulates the growth of useful microalgal organisms.
Fluid jets are all around us: from inkjet printing, to the “Old Faithful” geyser in Yellowstone National Park, to cosmological jets several thousand light years long. A team of researchers has recently verified the classical Landau-Squire theory in the tiniest submerged jet. The diameter of their jets were in the range of 20 to 150 nm, which is the length of just a few hundred water molecules lined up in a row.
Nanomaterials are the heart of the smaller, better electronics developed during the last decade, as well as new materials, medical diagnostics, energy storage and clean water. However, exposure to nanomaterials may have unintended consequences for human health and the environment. As a resource, Virginia Tech has joined the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars to renew and expand the Nanotechnology Consumer Product Inventory.