Though piezoelectrics are a widely used technology, there are major gaps in our understanding of how they work. Researchers at NIST and in Canada believe they've learned why one of the main classes of these materials, known as relaxors, behaves in distinctly different ways from the rest and exhibit the largest piezoelectric effect. And the discovery comes in the shape of a butterfly.
Plasmonic nanoparticles developed at Rice Univ. are becoming known for their ability to turn light into heat, but how to use them to generate electricity is not nearly as well understood. Scientists at Rice are working on that, too. They suggest that the extraction of electrons generated by surface plasmons in metal nanoparticles may be optimized and have measured the time plasmon-generated electrons take moving from nanorods to graphene.
Researchers at New York Univ. have developed a method for creating and directing fast moving waves in magnetic fields that have the potential to enhance communication and information processing in computer chips and other consumer products. Their method employs spin waves, which are waves that move in magnetic materials.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have begun to develop a technique that provides a practical approach for looking into the complex physical and chemical processes that occur during fallout formation following a nuclear detonation. Post-detonation nuclear forensics relies on advanced analytical techniques and an understanding of the physio-chemical processes associated with a nuclear detonation to identify the device type.
By letting DNA strands grow together with gold, scientists in Finland have developed a new concept for super-sensitive disease diagnostics. The method relies on growth of a DNA strand over a narrow gap between two electrodes in an electric circuit. The strand will only grow if a certain DNA molecule has bound to the surface of one electrode, which makes it possible to build diagnostic tests for detection of that specific DNA molecule.
A new catalytic converter developed in the U.K. could cut fuel consumption and manufacturing costs significantly. Tests suggest that the new prototype, which uses up to 80% less rare metal than a conventional converter, could reduce fuel consumption in a standard vehicle by up to 3%. Metals such as platinum now account for 60 to 70% of the cost of the component.
Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory have created a new type of tunnel device structure in which the tunnel barrier and transport channel are made of the same material, graphene. Their work shows the highest spin injection values yet measured for graphene, opening an entirely new avenue for making highly functional, scalable graphene-based electronic and spintronic devices a reality.
Stratasys, a manufacturer of 3-D printers and materials for personal use, prototyping and production, has announced the launch of the ground-breaking Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3-D Printer, the first and only 3-D printer to combine colors with a variety of photopolymer 3-D printed materials.
More than 2,800 commercially available applications are now based on nanoparticles, but this influx of nanotechnology is not without risks, say researchers at Missouri Univ. of Science and Technology. They have been systematically studying the effects of transition metal oxide nanoparticles on human lung cells and have found that the nanoparticles’ toxicity to the cells increased as they moved right on the periodic table.
Univ. of Houston researchers have developed a new stretchable and transparent electrical conductor, bringing the potential for a fully foldable cell phone or a flat-screen television that can be folded and carried under your arm closer to reality. The researchers report that their gold nanomesh electrodes, produced by the novel grain boundary lithography, increase resistance only slightly, even at a strain of 160%.
Researchers are proposing a new technology that might control the flow of heat the way electronic devices control electrical current, an advance that could have applications in a diverse range of fields from electronics to textiles. The concept uses tiny triangular structures to control phonons, quantum-mechanical phenomena that describe how vibrations travel through a material's crystal structure.
Nearly 30 years after the discovery of high-temperature superconductivity, many questions remain, but an Oak Ridge National Laboratory team is providing insight that could lead to better superconductors. Their work examines the role of chemical dopants, which are essential to creating high-temperature superconductors.
Silk and diamonds aren't just for ties and jewelry anymore. They're ingredients for a new kind of tiny glowing particle that could provide doctors and researchers with a novel technique for biological imaging and drug delivery. Just tens of nanometers across, the new particles are made of diamond, covered in silk and can be injected into living cells.
Researchers from two continents have engineered an efficient and environmentally friendly catalyst for the production of molecular hydrogen (H2), a compound used extensively in modern industry to manufacture fertilizer and refine crude oil into gasoline. The new method can product industrial quantities of hydrogen without emitting carbon into the atmosphere.
Graphene, a sheet of carbon one atom thick, may soon have a new nanomaterial partner. In the laboratory and on supercomputers, chemical engineers have determined that a unique arrangement of 36 boron atoms in a flat disc with a hexagonal hole in the middle may be the preferred building blocks for “borophene.”
The sponges of the future will do more than clean house. Picture this, for example: Doctors use a tiny sponge to soak up a drug and deliver it directly to a tumor. Chemists at a manufacturing plant use another to trap and store unwanted gases. These technologies are what a Univ. at Buffalo team had in mind when they led the design of a new material called UBMOF-1.
Researchers in California have made progress in a project to develop fast-blinking light-emitting diode systems for underwater optical communications. They have shown that an artificial metamaterial can improve the “blink speed” of a fluorescent light-emitting dye molecule 76 times faster than normal while increasing brightness 80-fold.
Hanchen Huang, an engineer at Northeastern Univ., has spent the last 10 years revising the classical theory of crystal growth that accounts for his observations of nanorod crystals. The theory, on the macroscale, holds that height steps gradually disappear as atoms of a given material tumble down to fill in the gaps. On the nanoscale, Huang has found, things operate differently.
Getting the blues is rarely a desirable experience—unless you’re a solar cell, that is. Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory and the Univ. of Texas at Austin have together developed a new, inexpensive material that has the potential to capture and convert solar energy—particularly from the bluer part of the spectrum—much more efficiently than ever before.
If the chemical bonds that hold together the constituent atoms of a molecule could be tuned to become stronger or weaker, certain chemical properties of that molecule might be controlled to great advantage for applications in energy and catalysis. Researchers were able to accomplish this feat by using an applied voltage and electric current to tune the strength of chemical bonds in fullerene or buckyball molecules.
Flexible, layered materials textured with nanoscale wrinkles could provide a new way of controlling the wavelengths and distribution of waves, whether of sound or light. The new method could eventually find applications from nondestructive testing of materials to sound suppression, and could also provide new insights into soft biological systems and possibly lead to new diagnostic tools.
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but they could also one day help us understand how the brain processes information, thanks to a new sensing technique developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A team in MIT’s Quantum Engineering Group has developed a new method to control nanoscale diamond sensors, which are capable of measuring even very weak magnetic fields.
Silicon-based electronics have physical limits that slow and may eventually halt the miniaturization of electronic devices. One of the possible solutions is to use molecules as circuits, but their poor conduction capabilities make them unlikely candidates. Researchers in Italy says, however, that the Kondo effect, in which molecules behave like magnetic impurities, could offer a solution.
You’ve probably seen it in your kitchen cookware, or inside old plumbing pipes: scaly deposits left over time by hard, mineral-laden water. It happens not only in pipes and cooking pots in the home, but also in pipelines and valves that deliver oil and gas, and pipes that carry cooling water inside power plants. Scale, as these deposits are known, causes inefficiencies, downtime and maintenance issues.
“Cool it!” That’s a prime directive for microprocessor chips and a promising new solution to meeting this imperative is in the offing. Researchers with the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a process-friendly technique that would enable the cooling of microprocessor chips through carbon nanotubes.