Efforts to eliminate contamination has allowed users of scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) to measure the exact features of a sample, not the sample features plus a layer of contamination. But contamination persists, which is why researchers at NIST are working to elevate microscope accuracy by eliminating the gradual buildup of carbonaceous material on a sample, introduced by the action of the charged particle beam.
Imitating the structural elements found in most sea sponges, researchers in Germany have created a new synthetic hybrid material that is extremely flexible yet has a mineral content of almost 90%. They recreated the sponge’s spicules using natural calcium carbonate and integrated a protein of the sponge. The invention is even more flexible than its natural counterpart.
Researchers at NIST have developed a new microscope able to view and measure an important but elusive property of the nanoscale magnets used in an advanced, experimental form of digital memory. The new instrument already has demonstrated its utility with initial results that suggest how to limit power consumption in future computer memories.
Researchers have successfully created a magnetic soliton—a nanosized, spinning droplet that was first theorized 35 years ago. These solitons have implications for the creation of magnetic, spin-based computers. Solitons are waves, localized in space, that preserve their size and momentum. They were first observed in water. Solitons composed of light have proved useful for long-distance, high-speed information transmission. But droplet solitons had never been observed in a magnetic environment, although scientists believed they could exist there.
The ultrafast, ultrabright X-ray pulses of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) have enabled unprecedented views of a catalyst in action, an important step in the effort to develop cleaner and more efficient energy sources. Scientists at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory used LCLS, together with computerized simulations, to reveal surprising details of a short-lived early state in a chemical reaction occurring at the surface of a catalyst sample.
Kansas State University civil engineers are developing the right mix to reduce concrete's carbon footprint and make it stronger. Their innovative ingredient: biofuel byproducts.
Atomic collapse, a phenomenon first predicted in the 1930s based on quantum mechanics and relativistic physics but never before observed, has now been seen for the first time in an “artificial nucleus” simulated on a sheet of graphene. The observation not only provides confirmation of long-held theoretical predictions, but could also pave the way for new kinds of graphene-based electronic devices, and for further research on basic physics.
Phototransistors are a kind of transistors in which the incident light intensity can modulate the charge-carrier density in the channel. To date, research on organic phototransistors (OPT) has mostly focused on thin-film variants. Now, researchers in South Korea have developed high-performance OPTs that are engineered with nanoscale single-crystalline wires. The breakthrough could enable other types of device miniaturization.
The search for sustainable new materials to store heat captured from the sun for release during the night has led scientists to a high-tech combination of paraffin wax and sand.
Electrons flowing swiftly across the surface of topological insulators are "spin polarized," their spin and momentum locked. This new way to control electron distribution in spintronic devices makes TIs a hot topic in materials science. Now scientists have discovered more surprises: contrary to assumptions, the spin polarization of photoemitted electrons from a topological insulator is wholly determined in three dimensions by the polarization of the incident light beam.
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for creating stronger, lightweight magnesium alloys that have potential structural applications in the automobile and aerospace industries. To create these magnesium alloys, the researchers introduced nanospaced stacking faults to the alloy using conventional hot rolling technology that is widely used by industry.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have devised a dynamic and reversible way to assemble nanoscale structures and have used it to encrypt a Morse code message. The team started with a template of DNA origami―multiple strands of DNA woven into a tile. They “wrote” their message in the DNA template by attaching biotin-bound DNA strands to specific locations on the tiles that would light up as dots or dashes.
In a world first, a team of researchers from Australia, China, and the U.S. has created a super strong metallic composite by harnessing the extraordinary mechanical properties of nanowires. According to the study’s authors, the work has effectively overcome a challenge that has frustrated the world's top scientists and engineers for more than three decades, nicknamed the "valley of death" in nanocomposite design.
All living organisms rely on iron as an essential nutrient. In the ocean, iron’s abundance or scarcity means all the difference as it fuels the growth of plankton. A new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution identifies an unexpectedly large source of iron to the North Atlantic—meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets, which may stimulate plankton growth. This source is likely to increase as melting of the Greenland ice sheet escalates under a warming climate.
A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has successfully altered the properties of water, making it corrosive enough to etch diamonds. This strange result was achieved by attaching a layer of graphene on diamond and heated to high temperatures. Water molecules trapped between them become highly corrosive, as opposed to normal water.
Germany-based company AMSilk has produced the world’s first competitive man-made spider silk fiber, called Biosteel, which is made entirely from recombinant silk proteins. Biosteel has mechanical properties similar to that of natural spider silk when comparing toughness, a measure indicating the kinetic energy absorbed before the fiber breaks.
Until now, atomic force microscopy-based measurements of chemistry and chemical properties of materials were generally not possible. Researchers at the University Illinois report that they have measured the chemical properties of polymer nanostructures as small as 15 nm, using a new technique called atomic force microscope infrared spectroscopy (AFM-IR).
A research group at the University of Toronto has recently described a new technique to improve efficiency in what are called colloidal quantum dot photovoltaics. The method depends on a characteristic of quantum dots: Their light-absorption spectrum can be changed simply by changing the size of quantum dot. By adjusting this property to the infrared portion of the spectrum, efficiency is improved.
Working with microscopic artificial atomic nuclei fabricated on graphene, a collaboration of researchers have imaged the “atomic collapse” states theorized to occur around super-large atomic nuclei. This is the first experimental observation of a quantum mechanical phenomenon that was predicted nearly 70 years ago and holds important implications for the future of graphene-based electronic devices.
While thousands of earthquakes around the globe are recorded by seismometers in these stations—part of the permanent Global Seismographic Network (GSN) and EarthScope's temporary Transportable Array (TA)—signals from large meteor impacts are far less common. The meteor explosion near Chelyabinsk on Feb. 15, 2013, generated ground motions and air pressure waves in the atmosphere. The stations picked up the signals with seismometers and air pressure sensors, and recorded the pressures waves as they cross the United States.
Researchers at the NIST have demonstrated a solid-state refrigerator that uses quantum physics in micro- and nanostructures to cool a much larger object to extremely low temperatures. What's more, the prototype NIST refrigerator, which measures a few inches in outer dimensions, enables researchers to place any suitable object in the cooling zone and later remove and replace it, similar to an all-purpose kitchen refrigerator.
A research group in Japan has recently discovered that it is possible to detect diluted ionic mercury in water with more than 10 times higher sensitivity than with the conventional spectroscopy method. Ionic mercury is a harmful substance when dissolved in rivers and lakes, even in trace amounts. In contrast to the conventional spectroscopic detection method, the infrared spectroscopy detection method was used for this method.
There are currently no engineered systems that operate under conditions similar to those that allow reptiles and amphibians to dart across a water’s surface, or that allow a frog to jump out of the water and catch an insect with a single power stroke. Engineers at Virginia Tech hope to learn more about these living mechanics puzzles so as to develop bio-inspired systems for manufacturing or robotics.
Chemists at the University of South Florida and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia have discovered a more efficient, less expensive and reusable material for carbon dioxide capture and separation. The highly efficient mechanism utilizes a previously underused material—known as SIFSIX-1-Cu—that attracts carbon atoms.
A multi-university research team has used a new spectroscopic method—energy-momentum spectroscopy—to gain a key insight into how light is emitted from layered nanomaterials and other thin films. The technique lets researchers understand the source and orientation of light in light-emitting thin films and could lead to better LEDs, solar cells, and other devices that use layered nanomaterials.