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Berkeley Lab licenses boron nitride nanotube technology

September 5, 2014 9:06 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Nearly 20 years ago researcher Alex Zettl of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory synthesized in his laboratory a new material never before seen by nature: boron nitride nanotubes, the strongest, lightest, most thermally conducting and most chemically resistant fiber known to exist. Now a startup has licensed this technology with the aim of manufacturing boron nitride nanotubes for commercial use.

The birth of a mineral

September 5, 2014 8:12 am | by Mary Beckman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

One of the most important molecules on Earth, calcium carbonate crystallizes into chalk, shells and minerals the world over. In a study led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, researchers used a powerful microscope that allows them to see the birth of crystals in real time, giving them a peek at how different calcium carbonate crystals form, they report in Science.

Researchers test multi-element, high-entropy alloy with surprising results

September 5, 2014 7:59 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new concept in metallic alloy design has yielded a multiple-element material that not only tests out as one of the toughest on record, but, unlike most materials, the toughness as well as the strength and ductility of this alloy actually improves at cryogenic temperatures. This multi-element alloy was synthesized and tested through a collaboration of researchers.

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Researchers test multi-element, high-entropy alloy with surprising results

September 5, 2014 7:50 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new concept in metallic alloy design called “high-entropy alloys” has yielded a multiple-element material that tests out as one of the toughest on record. But, unlike most materials, the toughness as well as the strength and ductility of this alloy, which contains five major elements, actually improves at cryogenic temperatures.

Magnetic nanocubes self-assemble into helical superstructures

September 5, 2014 7:46 am | by Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago | News | Comments

Materials made from nanoparticles hold promise for myriad applications. The challenge in creating these wonder materials is organizing the nanoparticles into orderly arrangements. Nanoparticles of magnetite, the most abundant magnetic material on earth, are found in living organisms from bacteria to birds. Nanocrystals of magnetite self-assemble into fine compass needles in the organism that help it to navigate.

Ultrasensitive biosensor from molybdenite semiconductor outshines graphene

September 4, 2014 12:58 pm | News | Comments

A new atomically thin 2-D ultrasensitive semiconductor material developed by researchers California promises to push the boundaries of biosensing technology toward single-molecule detection. Based on molybdenum disulfide or molybdenite, the biosensor material which is used commonly as a dry lubricant, surpasses graphene’s already high sensitivity, offers better scalability and lends itself to high-volume manufacturing.

Atomically thin material opens door for integrated nanophotonic circuits

September 4, 2014 12:43 pm | News | Comments

A team of U.S. and Swiss researchers have built a new basic model circuit consisting of a silver nanowire and a single-layer flake of molybdenum disulfide. This new combination of materials can efficiently guide electricity and light along the same tiny wire, a finding that could be a step towards building computer chips capable of transporting digital information at the speed of light.

Titania-based material holds promise as new insulator

September 4, 2014 9:50 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Research from North Carolina State Univ. shows that a type of modified titania, or titanium dioxide, holds promise as an electrical insulator for superconducting magnets, allowing heat to dissipate while preserving the electrical paths along which current flows. Superconducting magnets are being investigated for use in next-generation power generating technologies and medical devices.

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Materials scientists play atomic Jenga

September 4, 2014 8:07 am | by Dawn Levy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory got a surprise when they built a highly ordered lattice by layering thin films containing lanthanum, strontium, oxygen and iron. Although each layer had an intrinsically nonpolar distribution of electrical charges, the lattice had an asymmetric distribution of charges.

Scientists shed light on organic photovoltaic characteristics

September 3, 2014 4:05 pm | News | Comments

The most familiar photovoltaic (PV) designs use rigid layers of silicon crystal, but recently inexpensive organic semiconductor materials have also been used successfully. At this time, organic PV devices are hindered by low efficiency, in part because quantifying their electrical properties is a challenge. Researchers have now developed a method that allows the prediction of the current density-voltage curve of a photovoltaic device.

Breakthrough for carbon nanotube solar cells

September 3, 2014 11:47 am | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Lighter, more flexible and cheaper than conventional solar-cell materials, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have long shown promise for photovoltaics. But research stalled when CNTs proved to be inefficient, converting far less sunlight into power than other methods. Now a research team has created a new type of CNT solar cell that is twice as efficient as its predecessors.  

Researchers observe the phenomenon of "lithium plating" during the charging process

September 3, 2014 8:55 am | News | Comments

When metallic lithium forms and deposits during the charging process in a lithium-ion battery, it can lead to a reduced battery lifespan and even short circuits. Using neutron beams, scientists have now peered into the inner workings of a functioning battery without destroying it. In the process, they have resolved this so-called lithium plating mystery.

Nano-sized synthetic scaffolding technique

September 3, 2014 7:33 am | by Jim Barlow, Director of Science and Research Communications, Univ. of Oregon | News | Comments

Scientists have tapped oil and water to create scaffolds of self-assembling, synthetic proteins called peptoid nanosheets that mimic complex biological mechanisms and processes. The accomplishmentis expected to fuel an alternative design of the 2-D peptoid nanosheets that can be used in a broad range of applications. Among them could be improved chemical sensors and separators, and safer, more effective drug delivery vehicles.

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Simpler process to grow germanium nanowires could improve lithium-ion batteries

September 2, 2014 12:07 pm | by Andrew Careaga, Missouri Univ. of Science and Technology | News | Comments

As a semiconductor material, germanium is superior to silicon. But it is more expensive to process for widespread use in batteries, solar cells, transistors and other applications. Researchers in Missouri have now developed what they call “a simple, one-step method” to grow nanowires of germanium from an aqueous solution. Their process could make it more feasible to use germanium in lithium-ion batteries.

Sprinkling spin physics onto a superconductor

September 2, 2014 12:03 pm | by E. Edwards, Joint Quantum Institute | News | Comments

Physicists studying the effects of embedding magnetic spins onto the surface of a superconductor recently report that the spins can interact differently than previously thought. This hybrid platform could be useful for quantum simulations of complex spin systems, having the special feature that the interactions may be controllable, something quite unusual for most condensed matter systems.

Engineers develop new sensor to detect tiny individual nanoparticles

September 2, 2014 8:51 am | by Tony Fitzpatrick, Washington Univ. in St. Louis | News | Comments

A team of researchers in the U.S. and China have developed a new sensor that can detect and count nanoparticles, at sizes as small as 10 nm, one at a time. The researchers say the sensor, which is a Raman microlaser sensor in a silicon dioxide chip that does not need rare-earth ions to achieve high resolution, could potentially detect much smaller particles, viruses and small molecules.

Scientists learn to control reactions with rare-earth catalyst

August 28, 2014 9:06 am | by Dawn Levy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered they can control chemical reactions in a new way by creating different shapes of cerium oxide, a rare-earth-based catalyst. Their finding holds potential for refining fuels, decreasing vehicle emissions, producing commodity chemicals and advancing fuel cells and chemical sensors.

Nanodiamonds are forever

August 28, 2014 9:03 am | by Julie Cohen, UC Santa Barbara | News | Comments

An international group of scientists posit that a comet collision with Earth played a major role in the extinction of most of North America’s megafauna close to 13,000 years ago. In a new study, they have focused on the character and distribution of nanodiamonds, which are produced during such an extraterrestrial collision. The researchers found an abundance of these tiny diamonds distributed over 50 million km2 in the Northern Hemisphere.

New analytical technology reveals nanomechanical surface traits

August 27, 2014 5:03 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have discussed the merits of surface-stress influence on mechanical properties for decades. Now, a new research platform, called nanomechanical Raman spectroscopy and developed at Purdue Univ., uses a laser to measure the "nanomechanical" properties of tiny structures undergoing stress and heating.

Rubber meets the road with ORNL carbon, battery technologies

August 27, 2014 3:22 pm | by Ron Walli, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Communications | News | Comments

Recycled tires could see new life in lithium-ion batteries that provide power to plug-in electric vehicles and store energy produced by wind and solar, say researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. By modifying the microstructural characteristics of carbon black, a substance recovered from discarded tires, a team of researchers is developing a better anode for lithium-ion batteries.

DARPA project aims to make nanoscale benefits life-sized

August 27, 2014 11:55 am | News | Comments

Many common materials exhibit different and potentially useful characteristics when fabricated at extremely small scales. But lack of knowledge of how to retain nanoscale properties in materials at larger scales and lack of assembly capabilities for items have prevented us from taking advantage of these nanoscale characteristics. DARPA has created the Atoms to Product (A2P) program to help overcome these challenges.

Optical microscope technique confirmed as valid nano measurement tool

August 27, 2014 11:22 am | by Chad Boutin, NIST | News | Comments

Recent experiments have confirmed that a technique developed several years ago at NIST can enable optical microscopes to measure the 3-D shape of objects at nanometer-scale resolution—far below the normal resolution limit for optical microscopy (about 250 nm for green light). The results could make the technique a useful quality control tool in the manufacture of nanoscale devices such as next-generation microchips.

Measurement at Big Bang conditions confirms lithium problem

August 27, 2014 11:21 am | News | Comments

The field of astrophysics has a stubborn problem and it’s called lithium. The quantities of lithium predicted to have resulted from the Big Bang are not actually present in stars. But the calculations are correct, a fact which has now been confirmed for the first time in experiments conducted at the underground laboratory in the Gran Sasso mountain in Italy.

Copper shines as flexible conductor

August 26, 2014 4:20 pm | News | Comments

Sensors made with copper could be cheap, light, flexible and highly conductive. Making such concepts affordable enough for general use remains a challenge but a new way of working with copper nanowires and a PVA “nano glue” could be a game-changer. Engineers in Australia have found a way of making flexible copper conductors cost-effective enough for commercial applications.

Scientists craft atomically seamless, thinnest-possible semiconductor junctions

August 26, 2014 4:13 pm | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Univ. of Washington researchers have developed what they believe is the thinnest-possible semiconductor, a new class of nanoscale materials made in sheets only three atoms thick. They have demonstrated that two of these single-layer semiconductor materials can be connected in an atomically seamless fashion known as a heterojunction. This result could be the basis for next-generation flexible and transparent computing.

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