Northwestern University’s Yonggang Huang and the University of Illinois’ John A. Rogers are the first to demonstrate a stretchable lithium-ion battery—a flexible device capable of powering their innovative stretchable electronics. Their battery continues to work—powering a commercial light-emitting diode (LED)—even when stretched, folded, twisted and mounted on a human elbow. The battery can work for eight to nine hours before it needs recharging, which can be done wirelessly.
Recent research offers a new spin on using nanoscale semiconductor structures to build faster computers and electronics. Literally. Researchers have revealed a new method that better preserves the units necessary to power lightning-fast electronics, known as qubits. Hole spins, rather than electron spins, can keep quantum bits in the same physical state up to 10 times longer than before, the report finds.
Glass doesn’t have to be brittle. In a recently published paper, a Yale University team and collaborators propose a way of predicting whether a given glass will be brittle or ductile—a desirable property typically associated with metals like steel or aluminum—and assert that any glass could have either quality.
Researchers in Finland have shown experimentally that vacuum has properties not previously observed. Vacuum contains momentarily appearing and disappearing virtual pairs, which can be converted into detectable light particles. The researchers conducted a mirror experiment to show that by changing the position of the mirror in a vacuum, virtual particles can be transformed into real photons that can be experimentally observed. In a vacuum, there is energy and noise, the existence of which follows the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics.
An international team of researchers have recently demonstrated that graphene is able to convert a single photon that it absorbs into multiple electrons that could drive electric current. The experiment sent a known number of photons with different energies onto a monolayer of graphene. In most materials, one absorbed photon generates one electron, but in this case many excited electrons were generated.
In Spiderman 2, the superhero uses his webbing to bring a runaway train to a standstill moments before it plummets over the end of the track. But could a material with the strength and toughness of spiders’ web really stop four crowded subway cars? According to University of Leicester physics students, the answer is yes.
Engineers and scientists from the University of Sheffield have pioneered a new technique to analyze PCBM, a material used in polymer photovoltaic cells, obtaining details of the structure of the material which will be vital to improving the cell's efficiency.
While the phenomenon of superconductivity has been known for more than a century, the temperature at which it occur has remained too low for any practical applications. The discovery of high-temperature superconductors in the 1980s led to speculation that a surge of new discoveries might quickly lead to room-temperature superconductors. Despite intense research, these materials have remained poorly understood. Until now.
By leaving a dish for a different experiment in the refrigerator, a team of researchers at Washington University in St. Louis has unexpectedly found the mechanism by which tiny single molecules spontaneously grow into centimeter-long microtubes. Their efforts, which evolved into six months of investigation using microscopy and spectroscopy techniques, reveals the self-assembly process of small molecules across multiple length scales.
Futurists have long proclaimed the coming of a cashless society, where dollar bills and plastic cards are replaced by fingerprint and retina scanners. What they probably didn't see coming was its debut not in Silicon Valley but at a small state college in remote western South Dakota. Two shops on the campus are performing one of the world's first experiments in “biocryptology”, a mix of biometrics—using physical traits for identification—and cryptology—the study of encoding private information.
Macrophages—literally, “big eaters”—are a big part of the body’s immune system response. These cells find and engulf invaders, or form a wall around the foreign object. Unfortunately, macrophages also eat helpful foreigners, including nanoparticles. In an effort to clear this long-standing hurdle, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a “passport” that could be attached to therapeutic particles and devices, tricking macrophages into leaving them alone.
When gluing things together, both surfaces usually need to be dry. Gluing wet surfaces or surfaces under water is a challenge. Korean scientists have now introduced a completely new concept. They were able to achieve reversible underwater adhesion by using supramolecular "Velcro".
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a way to melt or “weld” specific portions of polymers by embedding aligned nanoparticles within the materials. Their technique, which melts fibers along a chosen direction within a material, may lead to stronger, more resilient nanofibers and materials.
Tiny particles of titanium dioxide are found as key ingredients in common products such as paint and toothpaste. When reduced to the nanoscale, these particle acquire catalytic ability. A team of chemists has recently developed a synthesis to produce these nanoparticles at room temperature in a polymer network. Their analysis has revealed the crystalline structure of the nanoparticles and is a major step forward in the development of polymeric nanoreactors.
A new study provides details of the structure and tissue properties of the remora fish's unique adhesion system. The researchers plan to use this information to create an engineered reversible adhesive inspired by the remora that could be used to create pain- and residue-free bandages, attach sensors to objects in aquatic or military reconnaissance environments, replace surgical clamps, and help robots climb.
A research team in Austria has developed an entirely new way of capturing images based on a flat, flexible, transparent, and potentially disposable polymer sheet. The new imager, which resembles a flexible plastic film, uses fluorescent particles to capture incoming light and channel a portion of it to an array of sensors framing the sheet. With no electronics or internal components, the imager’s elegant design makes it ideal for a new breed of imaging technologies.
While the demand for ever-smaller electronic devices has spurred the miniaturization of a variety of technologies, one area has lagged behind in this downsizing revolution: energy storage units, such as batteries and capacitors. Now, a team from University of California, Los Angeles may have changed the game by developing a groundbreaking technique that uses a DVD burner to fabricate microscale graphene-based supercapacitors.
Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new type of nanoscale structure that resembles a “nano-shish-kebab,” consisting of multiple 2D nanosheets that appear to be impaled upon a 1D nanowire. However, the nanowire and nanosheets are actually a single, 3D structure consisting of a seamless series of germanium sulfide (GeS) crystals. The structure holds promise for use in the creation of new, 3D technologies.
Stretched-out clothing might not be a great practice for laundry day, but in the case of microprocessor manufacture, stretching out the atomic structure of the silicon in the critical components of a device can be a good way to increase a processor's performance.
Researchers from North Carolina State University have, for the first time, successfully coated polymer implants with a bioactive film. The discovery should improve the success rate of such implants. The polymer used in these implants, called PEEK, does not bond well with bone or other tissues in the body. This can result in the implant rubbing against surrounding tissues, which can lead to medical complications and the need for additional surgeries.
A recurring problem in organic electronics technology has been the difficulty in establishing good electrical contact between the active organic layer and metal electrodes. Organic molecules are frequently used for this purpose, but, until recent research at the Helmholtz Center in Germany unraveled this mystery, it was practically impossible to accurately predict which molecules performed well on the job.
Distillation techniques for commonly used feedstocks, such as those containing benzene, can be expensive and involve large amounts of energy for hard-to-separate mixtures. A team of chemists in the U.K. have created organic molecular crystals that are able to separate important organic aromatic molecules by their molecular shape. The technique could be used in industry to separate complex organic chemical mixtures.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reveals details of living tissues, diseased organs and tumors inside the body without x-rays or surgery. What if the same technology could peer down to the level of atoms? Physicists in New York and Germany have worked together to make this type of nanoscale MRI possible. To do this, researchers used the tiny imperfections in diamond crystals known as nitrogen-vacancy centers.
New research by Yale University scientists helps pave the way for the next generation of solar cells, a renewable energy technology that directly converts solar energy into electricity. In a pair of recent papers, Yale engineers report a novel and cost-effective way to improve the efficiency of crystalline silicon solar cells through the application of thin, smooth carbon nanotube films.
Researchers at Macquarie University have been perfecting a technique that may help see nanodiamonds used in biomedical applications. Graduate student Jana Say has been working on processing the raw diamonds so that they might be used as a tag for biological molecules.