Scientists have demonstrated the potential for softwoods to process more easily into pulp and paper if engineered to incorporate a key feature of hardwoods. The finding could improve the economics of the pulp, paper and biofuels industries and reduce those industries' environmental impact.
Real or counterfeit? Northwestern Univ. scientists have invented sophisticated fluorescent inks that one day could be used as multicolored barcodes for consumers to authenticate products that are often counterfeited. Snap a photo with your smartphone, and it will tell you if the item is real and worth your money.
Ultracold atoms in the so-called optical lattices, which are generated by crosswise superposition of laser beams, have proven to be one of the most promising tools for simulating and understanding the behavior of many-body systems. However, the implementation in free space has some limitations such as the distance between the atoms (around 400 nm) and the short range of the interactions.
Traps. Whether you’re squaring off against the Empire or trying to wring electricity out of sunlight, they’re almost never a good thing. But sometimes you can turn that trap to your advantage. A team from the Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln, working with researchers at NIST, has shown that electron-trapping defects that are typically problematic in solar cells can be an asset when engineering sensitive light detectors.
A more effective method for closing gaps in atomically small wires has been developed by Univ. of Illinois researchers, further opening the doors to a new transistor technology. Silicon-based transistors have been the foundation of modern electronics for more than half a century. A new transistor technology, carbon nanotube wires, shows promise in replacing silicon because it can operate ten times as fast and is more flexible.
Proximity effects in hybrid heterostructures, which contain distinct layers of different materials, allow one material species to reveal and/or control properties of a dissimilar species. Specifically, for a magnetic thin film deposited onto a transition metal oxide film, the magnetic properties change dramatically as the oxide undergoes a structural phase transition.
Sudden cardiac death accounts for approximately 10 percent of natural deaths, most of which are due to ventricular fibrillation. Each year it causes 300,000 deaths in the United States and 20,000 in Spain. Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that the transition to calcium alternans, an arrhythmia associated with increased risk of sudden death, has common features with the magnetic ordering of metals.
The editors of R&D Magazine have announced a deadline extension for the 2015 R&D 100 Awards entry process until May 18, 2015. The R&D 100 Awards have a 50 plus year history of awarding the 100 most technologically significant products of the year.
A new paper describes how an accurate statistical description of heterogeneous particulate materials, which is used within statistical micromechanics theories, governs the overall thermo-mechanical properties. This detailed statistical description was computed using a novel adaptive interpolation/integration scheme on the nation’s largest parallel supercomputers.
A research team has investigated the electronic properties of the family of unconventional superconductors based on fullerenes, which have the highest known superconducting critical temperature among molecular superconductors, and was able to demonstrate the guiding influence of the molecular electronic structure in controlling superconductivity and achieving maximum Tc.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf and the Univ. of Konstanz are working on storing and processing information on the level of single molecules to create the smallest possible components that will combine autonomously to form a circuit. As recently reported in Advanced Science, the researchers can switch on the current flow through a single molecule for the first time with the help of light.
It can shift from red to green to violet. It can mimic patterns and designs. And it can do all of this in a flash, literally. The same qualities that define the cuttlefish, a sea dweller that uses its powers of dynamic camouflage to survive and communicate, also apply to a new engineering feat that behaves much like nature's master of disguise.
An experiment led by the Univ. of Colorado Boulder arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) and will look into the fluid dynamics of liquid crystals that may lead to benefits both on Earth and in space. A new physical science investigation on ISS, the Observation and Analysis of Smectic Islands in Space (OASIS), will examine the behavior of liquid crystals in microgravity.
The race is on around the world as scientists strive to develop a new generation of batteries that can perform beyond the limits of the current lithium-ion based battery. Researchers at the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago have taken a significant step toward the development of a battery that could outperform the lithium-ion technology used in electric cars such as the Chevy Volt.
The key to better cell phones and other rechargeable electronics may be in tiny "sandwiches" made of nanosheets, according to mechanical engineering research from Kansas State Univ. The research team are improving rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The team has focused on the lithium cycling of molybdenum disulfide, or MoS2, sheets, which Singh describes as a "sandwich" of one molybdenum atom between two sulfur atoms.
Just a few years ago, many researchers working in alternative manufacturing methods believed the basic layering technologies integral to 3D printing limited the capability of this technique to build quality optical devices and lenses. But, as rapidly evolving as these techniques are, and as broad ranging as the applications it’s infiltrating, this limitation has been surmounted by a number of research groups around the world.
A potentially game-changing breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis has been achieved with the development of a system that can capture carbon dioxide emissions before they are vented into the atmosphere and then, powered by solar energy, convert that carbon dioxide into valuable chemical products, including biodegradable plastics, pharmaceutical drugs and even liquid fuels.
Soldiers who suffer internal trauma from explosions might one day benefit from a new treatment now under development. Researchers report in ACS Macro Letters that injecting a certain type of nanoparticle helped reduce lung damage in rats experiencing such trauma. The potential treatment, which could be given at the most critical moment immediately after a blast, could save lives.
A cobalt-based thin film serves double duty as a new catalyst that produces both hydrogen and oxygen from water to feed fuel cells, according to scientists at Rice Univ. The inexpensive, highly porous material may have advantages as a catalyst for the production of hydrogen via water electrolysis. A single film far thinner than a hair can be used as both the anode and cathode in an electrolysis device.
After devising several new and promising "green" flame retardants for furniture padding, NIST researchers took a trip to the grocery store and cooked up their best fire-resistant coatings yet. As important, these protective coatings can be made in one straightforward step.
The mesh coating is among a suite of nature-inspired nanotechnologies under development at Ohio State and described in two papers in Nature Scientific Reports. Potential applications range from cleaning oil spills to tracking oil deposits underground.
Rice Univ. researchers have determined that two walls are better than one when turning carbon nanotubes into materials like strong, conductive fibers or transistors. Rice materials scientist Enrique Barrera and his colleagues used atomic-level models of double-walled nanotubes to see how they might be tuned for applications that require particular properties.
A new material developed at the Univ. of Colorado Boulder could radically reduce the energy needed to produce a wide variety of plastic products, from grocery bags and cling wrap to replacement hips and bulletproof vests. Approximately 80 million metric tons of polyethylene is produced globally each year, making it the most common plastic in the world.
Composite materials used in aircraft wings and fuselages are typically manufactured in large, industrial-sized ovens: Multiple polymer layers are blasted with temperatures up to 750 F, and solidified to form a solid, resilient material. Using this approach, considerable energy is required first to heat the oven, then the gas around it, and finally the actual composite.
Researchers have demonstrated a promising new way to increase the effectiveness of radiation in killing cancer cells. The approach involves gold nanoparticles tethered to acid-seeking compounds called pHLIPs. The pHLIPs (pH low-insertion peptides) home in on high acidity of malignant cells, delivering their nanoparticle passengers straight to the cells’ doorsteps.