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.