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.