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Published on November 30th, 2016 | By: April Gocha, PhD

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Other materials stories that may be of interest

Published on November 30th, 2016 | By: April Gocha, PhD

[Image above] Credit: NIST

 

NANOMATERIALS

 

Supersonic spray yields new nanomaterial for bendable, wearable electronics

A new, ultrathin film that is both transparent and highly conductive to electric current has been produced by a cheap and simple method devised by an international team of nanomaterials researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Korea University. The new film is made of fused silver nanowires, and is produced by spraying the nanowire particles through a tiny jet nozzle at supersonic speed.

 

Dressing up like a peacock: Bright colors by nanotechnology

Colors are produced in a variety of ways—the very bright colors of the blue tarantula or peacock feathers do not result from pigments, but from nanostructures that cause the reflected light waves to overlap. This produces extraordinarily dynamic color effects. Scientists from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, in cooperation with international colleagues, have now succeeded in replicating nanostructures that generate the same color irrespective of the viewing angle.

 

Adding clay to saline nanofluids creates useful materials

By controlling a mix of clay, water, and salt, Norwegian and Brazilian researchers have created nanostructures that might help boost oil production, expand the lifespan of certain foods, or that could be used in cosmetics or drugs. The international group created two different types of clay-based nanostructures on an oil droplet in water simply by fine-tuning the salinity of the water around the drop.

 

Carbon nanotubes couple light and matter

With their research on nanomaterials for optoelectronics, scientists from Heidelberg University and the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) have succeeded for the first time to demonstrate a strong interaction of light and matter in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Such strong light-matter coupling is an important step towards realizing new light sources, such as electrically pumped lasers based on organic semiconductors.

 

Uncovering the secrets of friction on graphene

Despite many years of study, some of graphene’s fundamental properties are still not well-understood, including the way it behaves when something slides along its surface. Now, using powerful computer simulations, researchers at MIT and elsewhere have made significant strides in understanding that process, including why the friction varies as the object sliding on it moves forward, instead of remaining constant as it does with most other known materials.

 

 

ENERGY

 

Fuel cells: For platinum catalysts, tiny squeeze gives big boost in performance

A nanosize squeeze can significantly boost the performance of platinum catalysts that help generate energy in fuel cells, according to a new study by Stanford scientists. The team bonded a platinum catalyst to a thin material that expands and contracts as electrons move in and out, and found that squeezing the platinum a fraction of a nanometer nearly doubled its catalytic activity.

 

Solar smart window could offer privacy, light control on demand

Smart windows get darker to filter out the sun’s rays on bright days, and turn clear on cloudy days to let more light in. This feature can help control indoor temperatures and offers some privacy without resorting to aids such as mini-blinds. Now scientists report a new development in this growing niche: solar smart windows that can turn opaque on demand and even power other devices.

 

A novel catalyst design opens possibility to hydrogen vehicle

New research affiliated with UNIST has presented a novel strategy for non-precious metal catalyst that can replace rare and expensive platinum(Pt)-based catalyst, currently used in hydrogen fuel cells. The team has devised a new synthetic strategy to boost the activity of iron- and nitrogen-doped carbon (Fe-N/C) catalyst that can realize low-cost hydrogen fuel cell.

 

Solar power could become cheaper, more widespread

University of Warwick scientists show that perovskites using tin in place of lead are much more stable than previously thought, and so could prove to be a viable alternative to lead perovskites for solar cells. This breakthrough may make solar power cheaper and more commercially viable, and even usable for mobile phones, laptops and cars.

 

 

ENVIRONMENT

 

Concrete jungles can function as carbon sinks

Researchers from China, Europe, and other U.S. institutions tallied the emissions from cement manufacturing and compared them to the amount of CO2 reabsorbed by the material over its complete life cycle, which includes normal use, disposal and recycling. They found that “cement is a large, overlooked and growing net sink” around the world—“sink” meaning a feature such as a forest or ocean that takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and permanently tucks it away so that it can no longer contribute to climate change.

 

Breakthrough offers greater understanding of safe radioactive waste disposal

A group of scientists from the University of Manchester, National Nuclear Laboratory, and the U.K.’s synchrotron science facility, Diamond Light Source, has completed research into radioactively contaminated material to gain further understanding around the issue, crucial for the safe and more efficient completion of future decommissioning projects.

 

 

MANUFACTURING

 

Closing tech gaps can fortify advanced manufacturing, save $100 billion

To spur significant innovation and growth in advanced manufacturing, as well as save over $100 billion annually, U.S. industry must rectify currently unmet needs for measurement science and “proof-of-concept” demonstrations of emerging technologies. This is the overall conclusion reached by economic studies funded by NIST of four advanced manufacturing areas used to create everything from automobile composites to zero-noise headsets.

 

Manufacturing time of breath sensors drastically reduced

A group of researchers at Osaka University succeeded in producing nanostructured gas sensor devices for detecting volatile organic compounds  in breath for the purpose of healthcare in time equivalent to or shorter than one tenth of the time required for manufacturing conventional gas sensors. This group improved conventional complicated production methods, developing a simple production method of just sintering substrates applied with materials

 

 

OTHER RESEARCH

 

Dry adhesive holds in extreme cold, strengthens in extreme heat

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University, Dayton Air Force Research Laboratory and China have developed a new dry adhesive that bonds in extreme temperatures—a quality that could make the product ideal for space exploration and beyond. The research builds on earlier development of a single-sided dry adhesive tape based on vertically aligned carbon nanotubes.


New perovskite could lead the next generation of data storage

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne scientists have developed a perovskite material whose magnetic order can be rapidly changed without disrupting it due to heating—the first ever magnetic photoconductor. The lab synthesized a ferromagnetic photovoltaic material that exhibits some unique properties that make it particularly interesting as a material to build next-generation digital storage systems.

 

Spray printed crystals to move forward organic electronic applications

New technology could revolutionize printed electronics by enabling high quality semiconducting molecular crystals to be directly spray-deposited on any surface. University of Surrey and National Physical Laboratory’s research allows to convert organic semiconducting inks into isolated crystals through a scalable process, suitable for a wide range of molecules.

 

Team develops thin foam that keeps vehicles, buildings cooler, quieter

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, researchers have developed a new material that will make vehicles and buildings cooler and quieter compared to current insulation materials in the market. Known as aerogel composites, this new foam insulates against heat 2.6 times better than conventional insulation foam.

 

Mood ring materials: New way to detect damage in failing infrastructure

“Mood ring materials” constitute a new type of smart sensing technology that could play an important role in minimizing and mitigating damage to the nation’s failing infrastructure. Sprinkle a pixie dust of nanoparticles into a batch of clear polymer resin and you get “a smart material that changes color when it is damaged or about to fail.”

 

‘Beautiful accident’ leads to advances in high pressure materials synthesis

Unexpected results from a neutron scattering experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory could open a new pathway for the synthesis of novel materials and also help explain the formation of complex organic structures observed in interstellar space. The multi-institutional team of researchers discuss their discovery of using high pressures—rather than high temperatures—to initiate chemical reactions.

 


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