The fantasy epic Game of Thrones is back April 12, 2015, and it is sure to be chock full of intrigue, indiscretions and, of course, swords. The most sought-after blades in Westeros are made from Valyrian steel, forged using ancient magic. But could you make your own Valyrian steel sword using real-life chemistry?
As we approach the miniaturization limits of conventional electronics, alternatives to silicon-based transistors are being hotly pursued. Inspired by the way living organisms have evolved in nature to perform complex tasks with remarkable ease, a group of researchers from Durham Univ. and the Univ. of São Paulo-USP are exploring similar "evolutionary" methods to create information processing devices.
To design the next generation of optical devices, ranging from efficient solar panels to LEDs to optical transistors, engineers will need a 3-D image depicting how light interacts with these objects on the nanoscale. Unfortunately, the physics of light has thrown up a roadblock in traditional imaging techniques: The smaller the object, the lower the image's resolution in 3-D.
The exceptional properties of tiny molecular cylinders known as carbon nanotubes have tantalized researchers for years because of the possibility they could serve as a successors to silicon in laying the logic for smaller, faster and cheaper electronic devices.
Conduction and thermal radiation are two ways in which heat is transferred from one object to another: Conduction is the process by which heat flows between objects in physical contact, such as a pot of tea on a hot stove, while thermal radiation describes heat flow across large distances, such as heat emitted by the sun. These two fundamental heat-transfer processes explain how energy moves across microscopic and macroscopic distances.
Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have published the world’s largest set of data on the complete elastic properties of inorganic compounds, increasing by an order of magnitude the number of compounds for which such data exists.
Researchers at the Univ. of Houston have reported developing an efficient conductive electron-transporting polymer, a long-missing puzzle piece that will allow ultrafast battery applications. The discovery relies upon a "conjugated redox polymer" design with a naphthalene-bithiophene polymer, which has traditionally been used for applications including transistors and solar cells.
Researchers have made what they believe is the first metal-free bifunctional electrocatalyst that performs as well or better than most metal and metal-oxide electrodes in zinc-air batteries. Zinc-air batteries are expected to be safer, lighter, cheaper and more powerful and durable than lithium-ion batteries common in mobile phones and laptops and increasingly used in hybrid and electric cars.
Engineers have combined innovative optical technology with nanocomposite thin films to create a new type of sensor that is inexpensive, fast, highly sensitive and able to detect and analyze a wide range of gases. The technology might find applications in everything from environmental monitoring to airport security or testing blood alcohol levels.
An experiment conducted by Princeton Univ. researchers has revealed an unlikely behavior in a class of materials called frustrated magnets, addressing a long-debated question about the nature of these discontented quantum materials. The work represents a surprising discovery that down the road may suggest new research directions for advanced electronics.
Water is the key component in a Rice Univ. process to reliably create patterns of metallic and semiconducting wires less than 10 nm wide. The technique by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour builds upon its discovery that the meniscus, the curvy surface of water at its edge, can be an effective mask to make nanowires.
Where water and oil meet, a 2-D world exists. This interface presents a potentially useful set of properties for chemists and engineers, but getting anything more complex than a soap molecule to stay there and behave predictably remains a challenge. Recently, a team from the Univ. of Pennsylvania has shown how to do just that.
Researchers have collaborated in the study of the movement of charges over interfaces of semiconductor materials. The group noticed a new kind of transport phenomenon for charges. In the phenomenon, a pair formed by a negative electron and a positive charge moves onto an interface, after which its “message” is passed on to the other side of the interface, where it is carried on by a similar pair.
Therapeutic agents intended to reduce dental plaque and prevent tooth decay are often removed by saliva and the act of swallowing before they can take effect. But a team of researchers has developed a way to keep the drugs from being washed away. Dental plaque is made up of bacteria enmeshed in a sticky matrix of polymers, a polymeric matrix, that is firmly attached to teeth.
An international team has, for the first time, precisely tracked the surprisingly rapid process by which light rearranges the outermost electrons of a metal compound and turns it into an active catalyst, a substance that promotes chemical reactions. The results could help in the effort to develop novel catalysts to efficiently produce fuel using sunlight.
The dramatic rise of smartphones, tablets, laptops and other personal and portable electronics has brought battery technology to the forefront of electronics research. Even as devices have improved by leaps and bounds, the slow pace of battery development has held back technological progress. Now, researchers have successfully combined two nanomaterials to create a new energy storage medium.
The name sounds like something Marvin the Martian might have built, but the “nanomechanical plasmonic phase modulator” is not a doomsday device. Developed by a team of government and university researchers, including physicists from NIST, the innovation harnesses tiny electron waves called plasmons. It’s a step towards enabling computers to process information hundreds of times faster than today’s machines.
Cellulose nanocrystals derived from industrial byproducts have been shown to increase the strength of concrete, representing a potential renewable additive to improve the ubiquitous construction material. The cellulose nanocrystals could be refined from byproducts generated in the paper, bioenergy, agriculture and pulp industries.
From smartphones and tablets to computer monitors and interactive TV screens, electronic displays are everywhere. As the demand for instant, constant communication grows, so too does the urgency for more convenient portable devices, especially devices, like computer displays, that can be easily rolled up and put away, rather than requiring a flat surface for storage and transportation.
Scientists have developed tiny nanoneedles that have successfully prompted parts of the body to generate new blood vessels, in a trial in mice. The researchers, from Imperial College London and Houston Methodist Research Institute, hope their nanoneedle technique could ultimately help damaged organs and nerves to repair themselves and help transplanted organs to thrive.
Bioplastics made from protein sources such as albumin and whey have shown significant antibacterial properties, findings that could eventually lead to their use in plastics used in medical applications such as wound healing dressings, sutures, catheter tubes and drug delivery, according to a recent study by the Univ. of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Researchers have developed a novel technique for crafting nanometer-scale necklaces based on tiny star-like structures threaded onto a polymeric backbone. The technique could provide a new way to produce hybrid organic-inorganic shish kebab structures from semiconducting, magnetic, ferroelectric and other materials that may afford useful nanoscale properties.
The promising new material molybdenum disulfide has an inherent issue that’s steeped in irony. The material’s greatest asset, its monolayer thickness, is also its biggest challenge. Monolayer molybdenum disulfide’s ultra-thin structure is strong, lightweight and flexible, making it a good candidate for many applications, such as high-performance, flexible electronics.
Nanoparticles are specifically adapted to the particular application by Small Molecule Surface Modification. Thereby surfaces of work pieces or moldings are expected to exhibit several different functions at one and the same time. Fabricators and processors alike demand consistently high quality for their intermediate and final products. The properties of these goods usually also have to meet specific requirements.
Researchers have made an experimental breakthrough in explaining a rare property of an exotic magnetic material, potentially opening a path to a host of new technologies. From information storage to magnetic refrigeration, many of tomorrow's most promising innovations rely on sophisticated magnetic materials, and this discovery opens the door to harnessing the physics that governs those materials.