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Improving organic transistors that drive flexible, comfortable electronics

May 5, 2015 12:40 pm | by Janet Lathrop, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst | News | Comments

A revolution is coming in flexible electronic technologies as cheaper, more flexible, organic transistors come on the scene to replace expensive, rigid, silicone-based semiconductors, but not enough is known about how bending in these new thin-film electronic devices will affect their performance, say materials scientists at the Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst.

Toward a squishier robot

May 5, 2015 11:37 am | by Univ. of Pittsburgh | News | Comments

For decades, robots have advanced the efficiency of human activity. Typically, however, robots are formed from bulky, stiff materials and require connections to external power sources; these features limit their dexterity and mobility. But what if a new material would allow for development of a "soft robot" that could reconfigure its own shape and move using its own internally generated power?

“Microcombing” creates stronger, more conductive carbon nanotube films

May 5, 2015 9:42 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have developed an inexpensive technique called “microcombing” to align carbon nanotubes, which can be used to create large, pure CNT films that are stronger than any previous such films. The technique also improves the electrical conductivity that makes these films attractive for use in electronic and aerospace applications.

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Channeling valleytronics in graphene

May 5, 2015 8:05 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

To the list of potential applications of graphene we can now add valleytronics, the coding of data in the wave-like motion of electrons as they speed through a conductor. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have discovered topologically protected 1-D electron conducting channels at the domain walls of bilayer graphene. These conducting channels are “valley polarized".

Implantable electrode coating good as gold

May 4, 2015 11:51 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

A team of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Univ. of California, Davis, have found that covering an implantable neural electrode with nanoporous gold could eliminate the risk of scar tissue forming over the electrode’s surface. The team demonstrated that the nanostructure of nanoporous gold achieves close physical coupling of neurons by maintaining a high neuron-to-astrocyte surface coverage ratio.

Defects in atomically thin semiconductor emit single photons

May 4, 2015 11:08 am | by Univ. of Rochester | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Rochester have shown that defects on an atomically thin semiconductor can produce light-emitting quantum dots. The quantum dots serve as a source of single photons and could be useful for the integration of quantum photonics with solid-state electronics: a combination known as integrated photonics.

For batteries, one material does it all

May 4, 2015 8:22 am | by Univ. of Maryland | News | Comments

Engineers at the Univ. of Maryland have created a battery that is made entirely out of one material, which can both move electricity and store it. Envision an Oreo cookie. Most batteries have at either end a layer of material for the electrodes like the chocolate cookies to help move ions though the creamy frosting (the electrolyte). The team made a single material that incorporates the properties of both the electrodes and electrolyte.

From brittle to plastic in one breath

May 4, 2015 7:49 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

What if peanut brittle, under certain conditions, behaved like taffy? Something like that happens to a 2-D dichalcogenide analyzed by scientists at Rice Univ. Rice researchers calculated that atomically thin layers of molybdenum disulfide can take on the qualities of plastic through exposure to a sulfur-infused gas at the right temperature and pressure.

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Researchers probe chemistry, topography and mechanics with one instrument

May 4, 2015 7:39 am | by Dawn Levy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

The probe of an atomic force microscope (AFM) scans a surface to reveal details at a resolution 1,000 times greater than that of an optical microscope. That makes AFM the premier tool for analyzing physical features, but it cannot tell scientists anything about chemistry. For that they turn to the mass spectrometer.

Practical gel that simply “clicks” for biomedical applications

May 1, 2015 10:17 am | by Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

If you opt to wear soft contact lenses, chances are you are using hydrogels on a daily basis. Made up of polymer chains that are able to absorb water, hydrogels used in contacts are flexible and allow oxygen to pass through the lenses, keeping eyes healthy. Hydrogels can be up to 99% water and as a result are similar in composition to human tissues.

How metal contamination makes gasoline production inefficient

May 1, 2015 8:45 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Scientists have identified key mechanisms of the aging process of catalyst particles that are used to refine crude oil into gasoline. This advance could lead to more efficient gasoline production. Their recent experiments studied so-called fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) particles that are used to break long-chain hydrocarbons in crude oil into smaller, more valuable hydrocarbons like gasoline.

Making robots more human

May 1, 2015 8:18 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Most people are naturally adept at reading facial expressions to tell what others are feeling. Now scientists have developed ultra-sensitive, wearable sensors that can do the same thing. Their technology, reported in the ACS Nano, could help robot developers make their machines more human.

Engineering a better solar cell

May 1, 2015 7:57 am | by Renee Gastineau, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

One of the fastest-growing areas of solar energy research is with materials called perovskites. These promising light harvesters could revolutionize the solar and electronics industries because they show potential to convert sunlight into electricity more efficiently and less expensively than today’s silicon-based semiconductors.

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Close-ups of two "packaged" photonic thermometers, each with its ponytail of optical fibers. A droplet of hardened, transparent epoxy (center) connects a fiber optic array (top) to a photonic chip containing two temperature-sensing devices (bottom). The t

Photonic thermometers: Out of the lab, into a bucket of water

April 30, 2015 2:48 pm | by Jennifer Lauren Lee, NIST | News | Comments

A new class of tiny chip-based thermometers being developed by PML’s Sensor Science Division has the potential to revolutionize the way temperature is gauged. These sensors, which measure temperature using light, are called photonic thermometers, and compared to traditional thermometry techniques they promise to be smaller, more robust, resistant to electromagnetic interference, and potentially self-calibrating.

A simulation of colloids in liquid crystals

Desirable defects: A new meta-material based on colloids and liquid crystals

April 30, 2015 1:52 pm | by International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA) | News | Comments

A new method made computer models of colloidal suspensions in liquid crystals subjected to electrical fields modulated over time. These composite materials have been receiving plenty of attention for their optical properties for some time now, but the use of electrical fields to modify them at will is an absolute novelty.

SCU15 is a unique superconducting undulator for production of high-brilliance x-rays installed in the ANKA storage ring. Courtesy of KIT/ANKA/BNG

Novel superconducting undulator provides first X-ray light at ANKA

April 30, 2015 12:16 pm | by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Synchrotron radiation facilities provide insights into the world of very small structures like microbes, viruses or nanomaterials and rely on dedicated magnet technology, which is optimized to produce highest intensity beams. The ANKA synchrotron radiation facility at KIT and Babcock Noell GmbH now took a technological leap forward: They have successfully developed, installed, and tested a novel full-length superconducting undulator.

Chemists cook up three-atom-thick electronic sheets

April 30, 2015 8:41 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Making thin films out of semiconducting materials is analogous to how ice grows on a windowpane: When the conditions are just right, the semiconductor grows in flat crystals that slowly fuse together, eventually forming a continuous film. This process of film deposition is common for traditional semiconductors like silicon or gallium arsenide, but Cornell Univ. scientists are pushing the limits for how thin they can go.

Artificial photosynthesis could help make fuels, plastics and medicine

April 30, 2015 8:15 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

The global industrial sector accounts for more than half of the total energy used every year. Now scientists are inventing a new artificial photosynthetic system that could one day reduce industry’s dependence on fossil fuel-derived energy by powering part of the sector with solar energy and bacteria.

A dye-doped PNLC cell in the transparent and opaque states, placed on a printed sheet of paper. In the transparent state, the clear background image can be seen because of the high transmittance of this cell. In the opaque state, black color is provided a

Windows that act like an LCD screen

April 29, 2015 2:04 pm | by John Arnst, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

The secret desire of urban daydreamers staring out their office windows at the sad brick walls of the building opposite them may soon be answered thanks to transparent light shutters. A novel liquid crystal technology allows displays to flip between transparent and opaque states— hypothetically letting you switch your view in less than a millisecond from urban decay to the Chesapeake Bay.

A three-dimensional reconstruction of chip features from measurements using the NIST model-library method.

Detecting effects of 3-D shapes in nanoscale chip features

April 28, 2015 11:26 am | by NIST | News | Comments

As microchip feature dimensions approach atomic scale, it becomes formidably difficult to measure their size and shape. According to the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, within the next couple of years the typical length of a transistor’s “gate”—its on-off switch—will be less than 20 nanometers (nm, billionths of a meter).

TU Wien and MedUni Vienna have developed artificial blood vessels, which are broken down by the body and replaced with its own tissue.

New material for creating artificial blood vessels

April 28, 2015 11:04 am | by Vienna Medical University | News | Comments

Blocked blood vessels can quickly become dangerous. It is often necessary to replace a blood vessel—either by another vessel taken from the body or even by artificial vascular prostheses. Tesearchers have developed artificial blood vessels made from a special elastomer material, which has excellent mechanical properties. Over time, these artificial blood vessels are replaced by endogenous material.

Heat makes electrons spin in magnetic superconductors

April 28, 2015 10:31 am | by Academy of Finland | News | Comments

Physicists have shown how heat can be used to control the magnetic properties of matter. The finding helps in the development of more efficient mass memories. In the study, the researchers showed how heat is converted into a spin current in magnetic superconductors. Magnetic superconductors can be fabricated by placing a superconducting film on top of a magnetic insulator.

When mediated by superconductivity, light pushes matter million times more

April 28, 2015 10:24 am | by University of Jyväskylä | News | Comments

When a mirror reflects light, it experiences a slight push. This radiation pressure can be increased considerably with the help of a small superconducting island. The finding paves a way for the studies of mechanical oscillations at the level of a single photon, the quantum of light.

Molybdenum disulfide encapsulated between layers of boron nitride. Courtesy of Gwan-Hyoung Lee/Yonsei University

Two-dimensional semiconductor comes clean

April 27, 2015 2:39 pm | by Holly Evarts, Columbia University | News | Comments

In 2013 James Hone, Wang Fong-Jen Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia Engineering, and colleagues at Columbia demonstrated that they could dramatically improve the performance of graphene—highly conducting two-dimensional (2-D) carbon—by encapsulating it in boron nitride (BN), an insulating material with a similar layered structure.

Negative electronic compressibility: More is less in novel material

April 27, 2015 2:19 pm | by Boston College | News | Comments

Add water to a half-filled cup and the water level rises. This everyday experience reflects a positive material property of the water-cup system. But what if adding more water lowers the water level by deforming the cup? This would mean a negative compressibility. Now, a quantum version of this phenomenon, called negative electronic compressibility (NEC), has been discovered.

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