Archive for April 2011
You are browsing the archives of 2011 April.
You are browsing the archives of 2011 April.
Union Process Inc., known globally as a manufacturer of size reduction and dispersing equipment for a broad range of industrial applications, has built a specially designed attritor for a European customer that manufactures raw materials for the ceramic industry. The attritor features CE certification and is powered by a specially engineered 150 HP motor which provides 425% starting torque. The mill was designed specifically for metal-free grinding.
Schoelly Imaging Inc.’s boroscopes enable inspection and analysis of areas otherwise inaccessible to standard remote viewing instruments. They provide critical inspection solutions for a wide range of industries, including glassmaking, metallurgy, cement plants, refuse incineration, power plants, automotive research, chemical and food production.
Gateway Analytical, an analytical contract laboratory and consulting company, held a grand opening celebration on April 12 at its new facility in Gibsonia, Pa. Among other things, the company specializes in innovative analytical techniques like chemical imaging that enable the identification and enhancement of contrast between chemically different materials.
Investor’s Business Daily reports that there’s nothing quite like being the dominant supplier of a scarce product that’s essential to a rapidly growing industry. That’s the privileged status of Carbo Ceramics. Houston-based Carbo produces ceramic proppant, a key ingredient in the secret sauce concoctions used by drillers to crack underground rock and free trapped oil and gas. Energy outfits are racing head over heels to drill new wells across North America with hydraulic fracturing technology. And Carbo’s ceramic proppant is a high-end ingredient in their fracking cocktails.
Asylum Research announced that it Cypher AFM is routinely achieving resolution of atomic-scale point defects in liquid. While scanning tunneling microscopes have routinely demonstrated point defect resolution since their invention, this gold standard of true atomic resolution has been more elusive in AFM.
As reported on in the just-published May issue of the Bulletin of The American Ceramic Society, the Mo-Sci Corporation recently announced its development of a novel and inexpensive wound care pad — composed of borate glass nanofibers — that helped speed the healing of venous stasis ulcers in a majority of patients enrolled in a small human clinical test group of adult diabetics.
The tests were supervised by the internal review board of the Phelps County Regional Medical Center. Each of the 13 patients in the trial suffered from hard-to-heal lower leg wounds. Some patients had wounds that had failed to heal for more than two years.
Care for the patients in the study was delivered by a specialized wound-care nurse, supervised by a PCRMC physician. One patient dropped out in the early stages of the trial. Of the remaining 12, eight have had their wounds heal with little or no scarring. The wounds of the remaining four patients are nearly healed.
The wound-care pads, named ‘DermaFuse’ by Mo-Sci, will soon be tested at the Center for Wound Healing and Tissue Regeneration at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
In the first video interview, conducted in March 2011, Ted Day and Steve Jung discuss the trials and the glass fiber material used in the DermaFuse pads. Jung, along with veteran glass researcher Delbert Day (Ted’s father), developed the glass fibers while doing research at the Missouri University of Science & Technology in Rolla.
In the second video, Peggy Taylor, a nurse who specializes in wound care and who provided the treatment in the DermaFuse clinical trials, discusses the history of the trials, the patients and her use of the the glass fiber pads.
NIST’s latest Tech Beat has many great stories of interest to readers interested in materials science:
NIST theoretician Jack Douglas and his collaborator Francis Starr of Wesleyan University have used computer simulations to gain basic insights into a fundamental problem in material science related to glass-forming materials, offering a precise mathematical and physical description of the way temperature affects the rate of flow in this broad class of materials — a long-standing goal.
Nikolai Zhitenev, Joseph Stroscio and other researchers at the institute have shown that the electronic properties of two layers of graphene vary on the nanometer scale. The surprising new results reveal that not only does the difference in the strength of the electric charges between the two layers vary across the layers, but they also actually reverse in sign to create randomly distributed puddles of alternating positive and negative charges. The new measurements bring graphene a step closer to being used in practical electronic devices.
NIST researchers used electron-beam lithography to make thousands of nickel-iron magnets, each about 200 nanometers in diameter. Each magnet is ordinarily shaped like an ellipse, but the researchers also made some magnets in three different egglike shapes with an increasingly pointy end. It’s all part of NIST research on nanoscale magnetic materials, devices and measurement methods to support development of future magnetic data storage systems. It turns out that even small distortions in magnet shape can lead to significant changes in magnetic properties.
The manufacturing experts at NIST’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership are now spreading the word on manufacturing innovation by blog. Launched April 4, the official MEP Blog: Manufacturing Innovations will serve as a focal point for educating U.S. manufacturers, partners and stakeholders on the latest industry trends. ”From analyzing economic data to sharing successes of our clients, we hope the Manufacturing Innovations Blog will become a site that inspires conversations about manufacturing in the U.S.,” says Roger Kilmer, director of NIST MEP.
What are the major technology challenges to future growth in the solar-cell industry? Where are the big-bang-for-the-buck R&D investment opportunities? These and other questions were put to a group of 72 internationally recognized experts in the field at a 2010 special workshop. Their conclusions are summarized in a new NIST publication on Photovoltaic Technologies for the 21st Century. The workshop was led by a steering committee chaired by Roger G. Little, CEO, Spire Corporation, and Robert W. Collins, NEG Endowed Chair of Silicate and Materials Science, University of Toledo, and co-sponsored by NIST.
Good news, Moore’s Law: You are still not extinct. A group of researchers recently announced the development of a single-electron transistor that is said to be the first of its type made entirely of oxide-based materials. Named SketchSET, the transistor device demonstrates an approach to making erasable electronics that require about one-thousandth the area used in Intel Pentium processors (i.e., at the 45 nanometer production node). Moreover, one of the researchers says it could lead to self-contained devices that can create, as needed, their own transistors as well as other electronic components and circuitry.
A news release from University of Pittsburgh describes the transistor as consisting of an island formation that can house up to two electrons. According to the release, “the number of electrons on the island, which can be only zero, one or two, results in distinct conductive properties. Wires extending from the transistor carry additional electrons across the island.”
This research, published in Nature Nanotechnology (doi:10.1038/nnano.2011.56), reports that the transistor’s central component, an “island” only 1.5 nanometers in diameter, operates with the addition of only one or two electrons. That capability would make the transistor important to a range of computational applications, from “ultradense nonvolatile memories, nanoscale hybrid piezoelectric and charge sensors as well as building blocks in quantum information processing and simulation platforms.”
According to the Pitt release, the tiny central island also could be used as an “artificial atom” for developing new classes of artificial electronic materials, such as exotic superconductors with properties not found in natural materials.
The lead researcher, Jeremy Levy, is a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh and a member of The American Ceramic Society. Other institutions involved in the research include Laboratório Nacional de Luz Síncrotron, Brazil; Instituto de Física ‘Gleb Wataghin’, Universidade Estadual de Campinas-UNICAMP, Brazil; University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering; and Hewlett Packard Laboratories.
Short for “sketch-based single-electron transistor,” SketchSET’s name was reportedly coined by Levy because the technique works like a microscopic Etch A Sketch, the drawing toy of Levy’s youth that inspired his idea. The technique was originally developed in 2008.
Levy’s group leverages the properties they find at the interface between a crystal of strontium titanate and a 1.2 nanometer layer of lanthanum aluminate. Using the conducting probe of an atomic force microscope, they can precisely and reversibly toggle the metal–conductor transition in desired regions at the SrTiO3–LaAlO3 interface. They then use these techniques to create wires and transistors of nanometer dimensions. Explicit in this is another important characteristic: These electronic devices can then be “erased,” and the interface can be used over again.
This work could represent a disruptive technology, in terms of how electronic devices are fabricated. Levy says in a brief video on this topic (see below) that this work technology could create a stark alternative to the current chip fabrication systems. He says instead of enormous chip fab plants, “In principle, what we are doing can be scaled down to the size of the object in which that system we create — the transistor system — would reside. So, in fact, you might imagine putting all the capabilities required to create these structures within the object, itself, something on the size of an (Apple) iPod Nano.”
The group’s research is supported in part by grants from DARPA, the Army Research Office, NSF and the Fine Foundation.
In addition to this research, Levy is also leading a $7.5 million, multi-institutional project to construct a semiconductor with properties similar to SketchSET. This five-year project is intended to overcome some of the most significant challenges related to the development of quantum information technology. Levy is working on this project with researchers from Cornell University, Stanford University, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin–Madison and University of California, Santa Barbara. This project began in August 2010 and is funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s Multi-University Research Initiative.
In time for Earth Day 2011, NASA gives a gift to humanity with this gallery of images. They all aren’t brand new, but I believe that this is the first time some of them have been shown. Anyway, even if you didn’t do anything for Earth Day over the weekend, grab a cup of joe and give yourself a zen moment as you poke through this gorgeous gallery.