Friday, February 18, 2011

This week in nanotechnology - February 18, 2011

Researchers have documented the first observations of some unusual physics when two prominent electric materials are connected: superconductors and graphene. When a current is applied to a normal conductor, such as metal or graphene, it flows through the material as a stream of single electrons. By contrast, electrons travel in pairs in superconductors. Yet when a normal material is sandwiched between superconductors, the normal metal can carry the supercurrent.

From the art world: Nanoscopic investigation shows why van Gogh paintings lose their shine. cientists have identified a complex chemical reaction responsible for the degradation of two paintings by Vincent van Gogh and other artists of the late 19th century. This discovery is a first step to understanding how to stop the bright yellow colours of van Gogh's most famous paintings from being covered by a brown shade, and fading over time. In the meantime, the results suggest shielding affected paintings as much as possible from UV and sunlight.
how X-Rays were used to study why van Gogh paintings lose their shine
This illustration shows how X-Rays were used to study why van Gogh paintings lose their shine. Top: a photo of the painting "Bank of the River Seine" on display at the van Gogh Museum, divided in three and artificially colored to simulate a possible state in 1887 and 2050. Bottom left: microscopic samples from art masterpieces moulded in plexiglass blocks. The tube with yellow chrome paint is from the personal collection of M. Cotte. Bottom right: X-ray microscope set-up at the ESRF with a sample block ready for a scan. Centre: an image made using a high-resolution, analytical electron microscope to show affected pigment grains from the van Gogh painting, and how the color at their surface has changed due to reduction of chromium.

Scientists have invented a new way of creating atom thin nano-sheets from a wide variety of exotic layered materials with the potential to enable the next generation of electronic and energy storage technologies needed, for example, to power electric cars.

Engineering atomic interfaces for new electronics: A multi-institutional team has made fundamental discoveries at the border regions, called interfaces, between oxide materials. The team has discovered how to manipulate electrons oxide interfaces by inserting a single layer of atoms. The researchers also have discovered unusual electron behaviors at these engineered interfaces.

And finally, some Friday fun: Geckoman! Video game introduces youths to big ideas about a nano-sized world. Working on a science fair project with his lab partner Nikki, Harold Biggums finds himself transformed into a tiny superhero and flung into the midst of an alien plot to take over the world — a plot that he and Nikki can foil only by defying gravity, walking on water and charging across electric fields. This narrative dilemma is the basic storyline for Geckoman! - A video game about nanoscale forces, an online video game developed by Northeastern University researchers at the Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN), which seeks to educate middle-school students about nanoscience and technology.