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.
A Stanford University study is the first to demonstrate that sophisticated, engineered light resonators can be inserted inside cells without damaging the host. The researchers say it marks a new age in which tiny lasers and light-emitting diodes yield new avenues in the study and influence of living cells.
A new type of nanoscale engine has been proposed that would use quantum dots to generate electricity from waste heat, potentially making microcircuits more efficient. The engines would be microscopic in size, and have no moving parts. Each would only produce a tiny amount of power. But by combining millions of the engines in a layered structure, a device that was a square inch in area could produce about a watt of power for every one degree difference in temperature.
Got a “little crush” on someone this Valentine’s Day? Maybe you’ve been hit by a little arrow belonging to this cupid made from carbon nanotubes by Brigham Young University physics students. You don’t have to be a science lover to be amazed at how they build on such a small scale.
University of Utah engineers demonstrated it is feasible to build the first organic materials that conduct electricity on their edges, but act as an insulator inside. These materials, called organic topological insulators, could shuttle information at the speed of light in quantum computers and other high-speed electronic devices.
Chemists at Boston College have designed a new class of catalysts triggered by the charge of a single proton, the team reports in Nature. The simple organic molecules offer a sustainable and highly efficient platform for chemical reactions that produce sets of molecules crucial to advances in medicine and the life sciences.
A new review published by Wiley focuses on the recent progress in the theoretical and experimental efforts to obtain a deeper understanding of the effects of carbon nanostructure and surface functional groups on proton affinity, metal/CNF interactions, and electronic properties, as well as their catalytic consequences.
Wireless communications and optical computing could soon get a significant boost in speed, thanks to “slow light” and specialized metamaterials through which it travels. Researchers have made the first demonstration of rapidly switching on and off “slow light” in specially designed materials at room temperature. This work opens the possibility to design novel, chip-scale, ultrafast devices for applications in terahertz wireless communications and all-optical computing.
Engineers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the Korea Railroad Research Institute have designed a wireless technology that can be applied to high capacity transportation systems such as railways, harbor freight, and airport transportation, and logistics. The technology supplies 60 kHz and 180 kW of power remotely to transport vehicles at a stable, constant rate.
A team of researchers announced findings last week that may represent a breakthrough in applications of superconductivity. The team discovered a way to efficiently stabilize tiny magnetic vortices that interfere with superconductivity—a problem that has plagued scientists trying to engineer real-world applications for decades. The discovery could remove one of the most significant roadblocks to advances in superconductor technology.
Silicon requires a surface coating before use in its given applications. The coating "passivates" the material, tying up loose atomic bonds to prevent oxidation that would ruin its electrical properties. But this passivation process consumes a lot of heat and energy, making it costly and limiting the kinds of materials that can be added to the devices. Now a team of researchers has found a way to passivate silicon at room temperature, which could be a significant boon to solar cell production and other silicon-based technologies.
The size of electronic components is reaching a physical limit. While 3D assembly can reduce bulk, the challenge is in manufacturing these complex electrical connections. Biologists and physicists in France have recently developed a system of self-assembled connections using actin filaments for 3D microelectronic structures. Once the actin filaments become conductors, they join the various components of a system together.
Researchers at the University of Southern California have developed a new lithium-ion battery design that uses porous silicon nanoparticles in place of the traditional graphite anodes to provide superior performance. The new batteries hold three times as much energy as comparable graphite-based designs and recharge within 10 minutes.
Emissions from coal power stations could be drastically reduced by a new, energy-efficient material that adsorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide, then release it when exposed to sunlight. Monash University and CSIRO scientists, for the first time, discovered a photosensitive metal organic framework, which has lead to a powerful and cost-effective tool to capture and store, or potentially recycle, carbon dioxide.
Researchers have recently demonstrated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on the molecular scale through the use of artificial atoms, diamond nanoparticles doped with nitrogen impurity. Conventional MRI responds to the magnetic fields of atomic nuclei, but this new method improves resolution nearly one million times, allowing scientists to probe very weak magnetic fields such as those generated in some biological molecules and even proteins.
Like turning coal to diamond, adding pressure to an electrical material enhances its properties. Now, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have devised a method of making ferroelectric thin films with twice the strain, resulting in exceptional performance.
When migrating, sockeye salmon typically swim up to 4,000 miles into the ocean and then, years later, navigate back to the upstream reaches of the rivers in which they were born to spawn their young. Scientists have long wondered how salmon find their way to their home rivers over such epic distances. A new study suggests that salmon find their home rivers by sensing the rivers' unique magnetic signature.
Using the geometric and material properties of a unique nanostructure, Boston College researchers have uncovered a novel photonic effect where surface plasmons interact with light to form "plasmonic halos" of selectable output color.
A material that could enable faster memory chips and more efficient batteries can switch between high and low ionic conductivity states much faster than previously thought, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University researchers have determined. The key is to use extremely small chunks of it.
“Zombie” mammalian cells that may function better after they die have been created by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico (UNM). The simple technique coats a cell with a silica solution to form a near-perfect replica of its structure. The process may simplify a wide variety of commercial fabrication processes from the nano- to macroscale.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have pioneered a new method for producing polymer gels with tailored mechanical properties. The approach, which depends on the use of ultraviolet to break chemical bonds and prime them for new connections, could be used to make new materials that physically grow towards a light source in order to optimize their properties.
A tiny capsule invented at a University of California, Los Angeles laboratory could go a long way toward improving cancer treatment. Devising a method for more precise and less invasive treatment of cancer tumors, the team has developed a degradable nanoscale shell to carry proteins to cancer cells and stunt the growth of tumors without damaging healthy cells.