Friday, July 1, 2011

This week in nanotechnology - July 1, 2011

Scientists in Austria have developed light-detectors made of graphene and analyzed their astonishing properties. They demonstrated how remarkably fast graphene converts light pulses into electrical signals. This could considerably improve date exchange between computers.

Physicists working at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Konstanz in Germany have developed a breakthrough in the use of diamond in quantum physics, marking an important step toward quantum computing. They were able to coax the fragile quantum information contained within a single electron in diamond to move into an adjacent single nitrogen nucleus, and then back again using on-chip wiring.

Future computers may rely on magnetic microprocessors that consume the least amount of energy allowed by the laws of physics, according to an analysis by University of California, Berkeley, electrical engineers. Today's silicon-based microprocessor chips rely on electric currents, or moving electrons, that generate a lot of waste heat. But microprocessors employing nanometer-sized bar magnets – like tiny refrigerator magnets – for memory, logic and switching operations theoretically would require no moving electrons.
Nanomagnetic computers use tiny bar magnets to store and process information
Nanomagnetic computers use tiny bar magnets to store and process information. The interactions between the polarized, north-south magnetic fields of closely spaced magnets allow logic operations like those in conventional transistors.

Scientists have discovered fundamental steps of charging of nano-sized water droplets and unveiled the long-sought-after mechanism of hydrogen emission from irradiated water. It has been known since the early 1980s that while single electrons may attach to small water clusters containing as few as two molecules, only much larger clusters may attach more than single electrons. Size-selected, multiple-electron, negatively-charged water clusters have not been observed — until now.

In science and industry, polymer nanocomposites are increasingly regarded as materials that will significantly help to define progress in the 21st century. They consist of a polymer matrix and of nanoparticles which are inserted into the matrix as filler materials. A research group in Germany has now developed a process which opens an avenue for the production of new, completely miscible nanocomposites. These materials represent an extremely varied potential for technological innovations.