Friday, March 25, 2011

This week in nanotechnology - March 25, 2011

Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a three-dimensional nanostructure for battery cathodes that allows for dramatically faster charging and discharging without sacrificing energy storage capacity. This system gives you capacitor-like power with battery-like energy.

Researchers at Rice University have created a synthetic material that gets stronger from repeated stress much like the body strengthens bones and muscles after repeated workouts. The trick, it seems, lies in the complex, dynamic interface between nanostructures and polymers in carefully engineered nanocomposite materials.

Graphene study raises question: Is space like a chessboard? Physicists at UCLA set out to design a better transistor and ended up discovering a new way to think about the structure of space. Space is usually considered infinitely divisible — given any two positions, there is always a position halfway between. But in a recent study aimed at developing ultra-fast transistors using graphene, researchers from the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy and the California NanoSystems Institute show that dividing space into discrete locations, like a chessboard, may explain how point-like electrons, which have no finite radius, manage to carry their intrinsic angular momentum, or "spin.
spinning electrons
The standard cartoon of an electron shows a spinning sphere with positive or negative angular momentum, as illustrated in blue or gold above. However, such cartoons are fundamentally misleading: compelling experimental evidence indicates that electrons are ideal point particles, with no finite radius or internal structure that could possibly "spin".

Like copper wires in our everyday life, nanowires are envisioned to act as interconnecting elements in future electronic circuits on the nanoscale. Moreover, when made from semiconductors these nanowires not only transport electric current along their axis but also can very efficiently emit light. Researchers in Munich have found a way to combine these two fundamental properties.

Princeton researchers have invented an extremely sensitive sensor that opens up new ways to detect a wide range of substances, from tell-tale signs of cancer to hidden explosives. The sensor, which is the most sensitive of its kind to date, relies on a completely new architecture and fabrication technique. The device boosts faint signals generated by the scattering of laser light from a material placed on it, allowing the identification of various substances based on the color of light they reflect. The sample could be as small as a single molecule.

Friday, March 18, 2011

This week in nanotechnology - March 18, 2011

Conventional approaches to desalination are thermal distillation and reverse osmosis. A faster, better and cheaper desalination process enhanced by carbon nanotubes has been developed. The process creates a unique new architecture for the membrane distillation process by immobilizing carbon nanotubes in the membrane pores.

Scientists achieve breakthrough in nanocomposite for high-capacity hydrogen storage. Researchers have designed a new composite material for hydrogen storage consisting of nanoparticles of magnesium metal sprinkled through a matrix of polymethyl methacrylate, a polymer related to Plexiglas. This pliable nanocomposite rapidly absorbs and releases hydrogen at modest temperatures without oxidizing the metal after cycling—a major breakthrough in materials design for hydrogen storage, batteries and fuel cells.

A quantum pen for single atoms: Physicists succeeded in manipulating atoms individually in a lattice of light and in arranging them in arbitrary patterns. These results are an important step towards large scale quantum computing and for the simulation of condensed matter systems.
The atomic patterns each consist of 10 - 30 single atoms that are kept in an artificial crystal of light
With the addressing scheme arbitrary patterns of atoms in the lattice can be prepared. The atomic patterns each consist of 10 - 30 single atoms that are kept in an artificial crystal of light.

A 328 nanometer, 276 picosecond step for spintronics. Researchers built spintronic transistors and used them to align the magnetic "spins" of electrons for a record period of time in silicon chips at room temperature. The study is a step toward computers, phones and other spintronic devices that are faster and use less energy than their electronic counterparts. During the new study, the electrons retained their spins for 276 picoseconds, or 276 trillionths of a second. And based on that lifetime, the researchers calculate the spin-aligned electrons moved through the silicon 328 nanometers.

Researchers have learned to control the quantum pathways determining how light scatters in graphene. Controlled scattering provides a new tool for the study of this unique material and may point to practical applications for controlling light and electronic states in graphene nanodevices.

Scientists have developed a revolutionary way to control the growth, and provide additional functionality, to a family of smart materials known as metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs. The new technique, known as seeding, which allows the user to have complete control over where and how the MOF crystals grow. Additionally the seeding technique greatly speeds up the growth process.

Friday, March 11, 2011

This week in nanotechnology, March 11, 2011

Nanomaterial technology would dramatically extend battery life for mobile devices. Technophiles who have been dreaming of mobile devices that run longer on lighter, slimmer batteries may soon find their wish has been granted. University of Illinois engineers have developed a form of ultra-low-power digital memory that is faster and uses 100 times less energy than similar available memory. The technology could give future portable devices much longer battery life between charges.

Precision measurement in the world of nanoparticles has now become a possibility, thanks to scientists at UC Santa Barbara. The UCSB research team has developed a new instrument capable of detecting individual nanoparticles with diameters as small as a few tens of nanometers. This device opens up a wide range of potential applications in nanoparticle analysis.

Ultra fast photodetectors out of carbon nanotubes: Carbon nanotubes have a multitude of unusual properties which make them promising candidates for optoelectronic components. However, so far it has proven extremely difficult to analyze or influence their optic and electronic properties. A team of researchers has now succeeded in developing a measurement method allowing a time-based resolution of the so-called photocurrent in photodetectors with picosecond precision.
Scanning tunneling microscopy  of organic molecules
Single-walled carbon nanotubes are promising building blocks for future optoelectronic devices. With this measurement set-up physicists can resolve the ultra fast optoelectronic dynamics of carbon-nanotubes. A first laser exites electrons in the carbon-nanotubes spanning the gap between two gold electrodes while a second laser measures the resulting photo-current.

Circulating tumor cells, which play a crucial role in cancer metastasis, have been known to science for more than 100 years, and researchers have long endeavored to track and capture them. Now, a UCLA research team has developed an innovative device based on Velcro-like nanoscale technology to efficiently identify and "grab" these circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, in the blood.

Graphene oxide has had a scrum of researchers fall upon it as it retains much of the properties of the highly valued super material pure graphene, but it is much easier, and cheaper, to make in bulk quantities; easier to process; and its significant oxygen content appears to make it soluble in water. However new research led by University of Warwick researchers has found that that last assumption is incorrect and unfortunately graphene oxide's solubility literally comes out in the wash.

New molecular robot can be programmed to follow instructions. Scientists have developed a programmable "molecular robot" — a sub-microscopic molecular machine made of synthetic DNA that moves between track locations separated by 6 nm. The robot, a short strand of DNA, follows instructions programmed into a set of fuel molecules determining its destination, for example, to turn left or right at a junction in the track.

Friday, March 4, 2011

This week in nanotechnology - March 4, 2011

Diamond may have a softer side: T-carbon. This fluffy form of diamond, simulated in a Chinese supercomputer, could be used for a variety of applications — if someone can make the stuff and prove its stability in the real world.

The study of the physical properties and potential applications of graphene has suffered from a lack of suitable carrier materials that can support a flat graphene layer while not interfering with its electrical properties. Researchers in the University of Arizona's physics department along with collaborators from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National Materials Science Institute in Japan have now taken an important step forward toward overcoming those obstacles. They found that placing graphene on boron nitride improves its electronic properties.

By mimicking the structure of the silk moth's antenna, University of Michigan researchers led the development of a better nanopore – a tiny tunnel-shaped tool that could advance understanding of a class of neurodegenerative diseases that includes Alzheimer's. The team engineered an oily coating that traps and smoothly transports molecules of interest through nanopores. The coating also allows researchers to adjust the size of the pore with close-to-atomic precision.
Scanning tunneling microscopy  of organic molecules
A new oily coating that improves the functionality of nanopores was inspired by a similar layer in the silk moth's antenna. Nanopores are measurement devices that enable the study of single molecules or proteins.

A spongy substance that could be mistaken for packing material has the nanotechnology world buzzing. University of Central Florida Associate Professor Lei Zhai and postdoctoral associate Jianhua Zou have engineered carbon nanotube aerogel in such a way that it could be used to detect pollutants and toxic substances, improve robotic surgery techniques and store energy more efficiently.

Supercomputers the size of sugar cubes - within the next 10 years, IBM scientists and developers aim to build computers featuring exascale computing performance, but with an absolute energy consumption that is not much higher than that of today's largest systems. Exascale computers are capable of reaching a performance of one ExaFLOP/s, which corresponds to 1018 floating point operations per second. This is about 300 times faster than today's fastest supercomputer.

They are corrosion resistant, mechanically strong and withstand exceedingly high temperatures. With such characteristics, porous metals are generating a growing interest in numerous innovative fields of technology. They are characterised by nanostructured surfaces with pores measuring only a few nanometres in diameter. An international research team including has successfully developed a heavy-duty and cost-efficient ultrasound procedure for the design and production of such metallic structures.