Evolution has created in bees, butterflies, and beetles something optical engineers have been struggling to achieve for years — precisely organized biophotonic crystals that can be used to improve solar cells, fiber-optic cables, and even cosmetics and paints.
Scientists at MIT have developed a systematic approach to research its structure, blending computational modeling and mechanical analysis to 3D-print synthetic spider webs. These models offer insight into how spiders optimize their own webs.
One of the barriers to using graphene at a commercial scale could be overcome using a method demonstrated by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Graphene, a material stronger and stiffer than carbon fiber, has enormous commercial potential but has been impractical to employ on a large scale, with researchers limited to using small flakes of the material.
Soft matter encompasses a broad swath of materials, including liquids, polymers, gels, foam and biomolecules. At the heart of soft materials, governing their overall properties and capabilities, are the interactions of nano-sized components. Observing the dynamics behind these interactions is critical to understanding key biological processes.
A research team led by the Univ. of Pittsburgh’s Jeremy Levy has discovered electrons that can “swing dance.” This unique electronic behavior can potentially lead to new families of quantum devices. Superconductors form the basis for magnetic resonance imaging devices as well as emerging technologies such as quantum computers. At the heart of all superconductors is the bunching of electrons into pairs.
Rice Univ. scientists have found a way to simplify the manufacture of solar cells by using the top electrode as the catalyst that turns plain silicon into valuable black silicon. Black silicon is silicon with a highly textured surface of nanoscale spikes or pores that are smaller than the wavelength of light. The texture allows the efficient collection of light from any angle, at any time of day.
Inspired by the way iridescent bird feathers play with light, scientists have created thin films of material in a wide range of pure colors with hues determined by physical structure rather than pigments. Structural color arises from the interaction of light with materials that have patterns on a minute scale, which bend and reflect light to amplify some wavelengths and dampen others.
Pollutants emitted by factories and car exhausts affect humans who breathe in these harmful gases and also aggravate climate change up in the atmosphere. Being able to detect such emissions is a critically needed measure. New research has developed an efficient way to improve methods for detecting polluting emissions using a sensor at the nanoscale.
Researchers at the Univ. of Georgia have developed an inexpensive way to manufacture extraordinarily thin polymer strings commonly known as nanofibers. These polymers can be made from natural materials like proteins or from human-made substances to make plastic, rubber or fiber, including biodegradable materials.
Think about your favorite toys as a child. Did they light up or make funny noises when you touched them? Maybe they changed shape or texture. In ACS Central Science, researchers report a new material that combines many of these characteristics. Beyond being fun, these materials, called organic “supercooled” liquids, may be useful for optical storage systems and biomedical sensors.
Researchers have demonstrated a new metal matrix composite that is so light that it can float on water. A boat made of such lightweight composites will not sink despite damage to its structure. The new material also promises to improve automotive fuel economy because it combines light weight with heat resistance.
They are strange materials, insulators on the inside and conductors on the surface. They also have properties that make them excellent candidates for development of spintronics (”spin-based electronics”) and, more in general, quantum computing. However, they are also elusive, as their properties are extremely difficult to observe. A study proposes a new family of materials whose topological state can be directly observed experimentally.
Researchers have successfully demonstrated pattern recognition using a magnonic holographic memory device, a development that could greatly improve speech and image recognition hardware. Pattern recognition focuses on finding patterns and regularities in data. The uniqueness of the demonstrated work is that the input patterns are encoded into the phases of the input spin waves.
A new technique invented at Massachusetts Institute of Technology can measure the relative positions of tiny particles as they flow through a fluidic channel, potentially offering an easy way to monitor the assembly of nanoparticles, or to study how mass is distributed within a cell. With further advancements, this technology has the potential to resolve the shape of objects in flow as small as viruses, the researchers say.
A moth’s eye and lotus leaf were the inspirations for an antireflective water-repelling, or superhydrophobic, glass coating that holds significant potential for solar panels, lenses, detectors, windows, weapons systems and many other products. The discovery is based on a mechanically robust nanostructured layer of porous glass film. The coating can be customized to be superhydrophobic, fog-resistant and antireflective.
Physicists were able to show, for the first time, that the nuclear spins of single molecules can be detected with the help of magnetic particles at room temperature. The researchers describe a novel experimental setup with which the tiny magnetic fields of the nuclear spins of single biomolecules could be registered for the first time.
An international team of scientists, including Prof. Monica Craciun from the Univ. of Exeter, have pioneered a new technique to embed transparent, flexible graphene electrodes into fibers commonly associated with the textile industry. The discovery could revolutionize the creation of wearable electronic devices, such as clothing containing computers, phones and MP3 players, which are lightweight, durable and easily transportable.
Researchers have demonstrated a new process for the expanded use of lightweight aluminum in cars and trucks at the speed, scale, quality and consistency required by the auto industry. The process reduces production time and costs while yielding strong and lightweight parts, for example delivering a car door that is 62% lighter and 25% cheaper than that produced with today's manufacturing methods.
An international research group led by scientists at NIST has developed a technique for creating nanoscale whispering galleries for electrons in graphene. The development opens the way to building devices that focus and amplify electrons just as lenses focus light and resonators (like the body of a guitar) amplify sound.
Scientists from the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology at the Univ. of Twente in the Netherlands and Thales Research & Technology, France, have found a way to control heat propagation in photonic nano-sized devices, which will be used for high speed communications and quantum information technologies.
For faster, longer-lasting water filters, some scientists are looking to graphene to serve as ultra-thin membranes, filtering out contaminants to quickly purify high volumes of water. Graphene’s unique properties make it a potentially ideal membrane for water filtration or desalination. But there’s been one main drawback to its wider use.
Researchers have succeeded in creating a new “whispering gallery” effect for electrons in a sheet of graphene, making it possible to precisely control a region that reflects electrons within the material. They say the accomplishment could provide a basic building block for new kinds of electronic lenses, as well as quantum-based devices that combine electronics and optics.
Researchers experimentally demonstrated that patterning of magnetic materials into arrays of nanoscale dots can lead to a very strong and highly controllable modification of the polarization of light when the beam reflects from the array. This discovery could increase the sensitivity of optical components for telecommunication and biosensing applications.
In a study that could open doors for new applications of photonics from molecular sensing to wireless communications, Rice Univ. scientists have discovered a new method to tune the light-induced vibrations of nanoparticles through slight alterations to the surface to which the particles are attached.
Technology in common household humidifiers could enable the next wave of high-tech medical imaging and targeted medicine, thanks to a new method for making tiny silicone microspheres developed by chemists at the Univ. of Illinois. Microspheres, tiny spheres as small as a red blood cell, have shown promise as agents for targeted drug delivery to tissues, as contrast agents for medical imaging and in industrial applications.