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Researchers discover highly promising new class of nanocatalyst

February 28, 2014 7:23 am | by Lyn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A big step in the development of advanced fuel cells and water-alkali electrolyzers has been achieved with the discovery of a new class of bimetallic nanocatalysts that are an order of magnitude higher in activity than the target set by the U.S. Department of Energy for 2017. The new catalysts feature a 3-D catalytic surface activity that makes them significantly more efficient and far less expensive than the best platinum catalysts.  

Researchers develop ultrathin perfect ultraviolet light absorber

February 27, 2014 12:00 pm | News | Comments

Ultraviolet light (UV) has not only harmful effects on molecules and biological tissue like human skin but it also can impair the performance of organic solar cells upon long-term exposure. Researchers in Germany have now developed a so-called plasmonic metamaterial which is compatible with solar technology and completely absorbs UV light despite being only 20 nm thin.

2nd Annual Chromatography Community Mixer

February 27, 2014 11:12 am | Events

This event will bring together scientist from chromatography discussion groups throughout North America for discussion, refreshments and music. Tickets, which are required for entry to this free event, are available from local and regional chromatography discussion groups and from chromatography equipment and media vendors.

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Tiny tool measures heat at the nanoscale

February 27, 2014 11:10 am | News | Comments

How heat flows at the nanoscale can be very different than at larger scales, and researchers are working to understand how these features affect the transport of the fundamental units of heat, called phonons. At Cornell Univ. scientists have invented a phonon spectrometer whose measurements are 10 times sharper than standard methods. This boosted sensitivity has uncovered never-before-seen effects of phonon transport.

Noting tech needs, mining companies seek graphite

February 27, 2014 6:18 am | by Dan Joling - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Tear apart an electric car's rechargeable battery and you'll find a mineral normally associated with No. 2 pencils. It's graphite. And experts say the promise of expanded uses for "pencil lead" in lithium-ion batteries, as well as a decrease in supply from China, has helped touch off the largest wave of mining projects in decades.

Nanoparticle networks' design enhanced by theory

February 26, 2014 5:22 pm | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Cornell Univ. researchers have recently led what is probably the most comprehensive study to date of block copolymer nanoparticle self-assembly processes. The work is important, because using polymers to self-assemble inorganic nanoparticles into porous structures could revolutionize electronics.

Physicists discover “quantum droplet” in semiconductor

February 26, 2014 3:25 pm | News | Comments

JILA physicists used an ultrafast laser and help from German theorists to discover a new semiconductor quasiparticle, a handful of smaller particles that briefly condense into a liquid-like droplet. Quasiparticles are composites of smaller particles that can be created inside solid materials and act together in a predictable way.

The end of full-body scanners?

February 26, 2014 11:04 am | News | Comments

Standing in a full-body scanner at an airport isn’t fun, and the process adds time and stress to a journey. It also raises privacy concerns. But researchers now report making several key advances in terahertz wave sensor technology to create a more precise and direct method for using these waves to detect explosives from greater distances.

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Superabsorbing design may lower manufacturing cost of thin-film solar cells

February 26, 2014 7:42 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a superabsorbing design that may significantly improve the light absorption efficiency of thin-film solar cells and drive down manufacturing costs. The superabsorbing design could decrease the thickness of the semiconductor materials used in thin-film solar cells by more than one order of magnitude without compromising the capability of solar light absorption.

Scientists twist sound with metamaterials

February 25, 2014 5:14 pm | News | Comments

A Chinese-U.S. research team is exploring the use of metamaterials to create devices that manipulate sound in versatile and unprecedented ways. In a recently published paper, the team reports a simple design for a device, called an acoustic field rotator, which can twist wave fronts inside it so that they appear to be propagating from another direction.

Silver gone astray

February 25, 2014 5:04 pm | News | Comments

It has long been known that free, ionic silver particles can be highly toxic to aquatic organisms. Yet we a lack of detailed knowledge about the doses required to trigger a response and how the organisms deal with the stress. To learn more about the cellular processes, scientists in Switzerland subjected algae to a range of silver concentrations. The results are reassuring, but the presence of other stressors could compound the problem.

A cavity that you want

February 25, 2014 4:53 pm | by Cory Nealon, Univ. of Buffalo | News | Comments

Associated with unhappy visits to the dentist, “cavity” means something else in the science of optics. An arrangement of mirrors that allows beams of light to circulate in closed paths, or cavities, help us build laser and optical fibers. Now, a research team pushed the concept further by developing an optical “nanocavity” that boosts the amount of light that ultrathin semiconductors absorb.

Nanotechnology may be key to solar energy and energy storage

February 25, 2014 1:40 pm | News | Comments

A new study from the International Electrotechnical Commission and the Fraunhofer Institute in Europe has found that nanotechnology will bring significant benefits to the energy sector, especially to energy storage and solar energy. Improved materials efficiency and reduced manufacturing costs are just two of the real economic benefits that nanotechnology already brings these fields and that’s only the beginning.

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Want your computer to go faster? Just add light

February 25, 2014 1:26 pm | by Angela Herring, Northeastern Univ. | News | Comments

Last year, a physicist and a mechanical engineer at Northeastern Univ. com­bined their expertise to integrate electronic and optical properties on a single electronic chip, enabling them to switch electrically using light alone. Now, they have built three new devices that implement this fast technology: an AND-gate, an OR-gate and a camera-like sensor made of 250,000 miniature devices.

Want your computer to go faster? Just add light

February 25, 2014 1:14 pm | by Angela Herring, Northeastern Univ. | News | Comments

Every second, your com­puter must process bil­lions of com­pu­ta­tional steps to pro­duce even the sim­plest out­puts. Imagine if every one of those steps could be made just a tiny bit more effi­cient. A Northeastern Univ. team has devel­oped a series of novel devices that do just that. The team combined their expertise to unearth a phys­ical phe­nom­enon that could usher in a new wave of highly efficient electronics.

New special air filter blocks small particles from getting inside cars

February 25, 2014 9:31 am | News | Comments

While taking in the scenery during long road trips, passengers also may be taking in potentially harmful ultrafine particles (UFPs) that come into the car through outdoor air vents. Closing the vents reduces UFPs, but causes exhaled carbon dioxide to build up. Now, scientists have developed a high-efficiency cabin air filter that could reduce UFP exposure by 93% and keep carbon dioxide levels low.

Silver linings

February 25, 2014 8:48 am | by Justin H.S. Breaux, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory in collaboration with scientists at Northwestern Univ. are the first to grow graphene on silver which, until now, posed a major challenge to many in the field. Part of the issue has to do with the properties of silver, the other involves the process by which graphene is grown.

On the road to Mottronics

February 25, 2014 8:38 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Mottronics is a term seemingly destined to become familiar to aficionados of electronic gadgets. Named for the Nobel laureate Nevill Francis Mott, Mottronics involve materials that can be induced to transition between electrically conductive and insulating phases. If these phase transitions can be controlled, Mott materials hold promise for future transistors and memories that feature higher energy efficiencies and faster switching speeds.

How to create selective holes in graphene

February 25, 2014 7:55 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers have devised a way of making tiny holes of controllable size in sheets of graphene, a development that could lead to ultra-thin filters for improved desalination or water purification. The team of researchers succeeded in creating subnanoscale pores in a sheet of the one-atom-thick material, which is one of the strongest materials known.

Researchers “design for failure” with model material

February 24, 2014 11:02 am | News | Comments

When deciding what materials to use in building something, determining how those materials respond to stress and strain is often the first task. A material’s macroscopic, or bulk, properties in this area is generally the product of what is happening on a microscopic scale. When stress causes a material’s constituent molecules to rearrange in a way such that they can't go back to their original positions, it is known as plastic deformation.

Microanalysis technique makes the most of small nanoparticle samples

February 24, 2014 10:31 am | News | Comments

Researchers from NIST and the FDA have demonstrated that they can make sensitive chemical analyses of minute samples of nanoparticles by, essentially, roasting them on top of a quartz crystal. The NIST-developed technique, "microscale thermogravimetric analysis," holds promise for studying nanomaterials in biology and the environment, where sample sizes often are quite small and larger-scale analysis won't work.

Nanotechnology in glass sponge

February 24, 2014 9:54 am | News | Comments

To attach itself to surfaces, the marine sponge Monorhaphis chuni forms an unusual glass rod. Researchers have recently analyzed the nanostructure of the filament passing through the center of this glass rod and discovered that it is formed with a perfect periodic arrangement of nanopores. In this way, the sponge employs a similar method that is now used for fabrication of man-made mesoporous nanomaterials.

Tissue-penetrating light release chemotherapy inside cancer cells

February 24, 2014 9:26 am | News | Comments

A light-activated drug delivery system for treating cancer is particularly promising to traditional chemotherapy methods because it can accomplish spatial and temporal control of drug release. To this end, scientists have developed a new type of nanoparticle that can absorb energy from tissue-penetrating light that releases drugs in cancer cells.

Team develops chemical solution for graphene challenges

February 24, 2014 9:15 am | News | Comments

Previous efforts to create graphene nanoribbons followed a top-down approach, using lithography and etching process to try to cut ribbons out of graphene sheets. Cutting ribbons 2 nm-wide is not practical, however, and these efforts have not been very successful. Now, a research team has developed a chemical approach to mass producing these graphene nanoribbons. This process that may provide an avenue to harnessing graphene's conductivity.

Nanotracer tester tells about wells

February 24, 2014 7:55 am | News | Comments

A tabletop device invented at Rice Univ. can tell how efficiently a nanoparticle would travel through a well and may provide a wealth of information for oil and gas producers. The device gathers data on how tracers, microscopic particles that can be pumped into and recovered from wells, move through deep rock formations that have been opened by hydraulic fracturing.

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