Neil deGrasse Tyson. Credit: Bruce F Press; Wikimedia Creative Commons License.
“Cosmos will explore how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time,” according to the National Geographic Channel website. As if those goals weren’t big enough, the series hopes to make a worldwide impression with viewing in 170 countries and 45 languages.
The original iconic 13-part series, “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” aired on PBS in the 1980s and was hosted by late astronomer, educator, writer, and famous man Carl Sagan. According to the NY Times, the original series “was arguably the most successful popularization of science since Albert Einstein roamed Princeton without his socks.”
The iconic series was a landmark because Sagan made complex topics like the origins of life and interstellar travel accessible. Sagan, a stellar science communicator, ditched the technical jargon and made the series an intellectual and personal journey (hence the namesake). That accessibility piqued the interest of an audience that was composed of more than just science-y types. Cosmos was incredibly popular with a general audience, so much so that 400 million people in 60 countries eventually viewed the series.
Carl Sagan. Credit: NASA JPL; Wikimedia Creative Commons License.
While no one can really take Sagan’s place, Tyson is about the best substitute. An astrophysicist and director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium, Tyson has an impressive list of accolades. But what’s even more impressive is his commitment to communicating the wonders of science, much akin to his predecessor. Just in case you weren’t aware of his science-nerd-rockstar status, here’s proof.
The premiering episode of the new series (whose full name is “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey”) is entitled “Standing up in the Milky Way.” It will air this Sunday, March 9 at 9 pm—on FOX. Although FOX that may seem like an unlikely home, executive directors Seth MacFarlane (yes, the “Family Guy” guy) and Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan wanted the series to target a fresh audience—one that wasn’t already convinced about the wonders of science, according to the NY Times article. Seems like FOX may be the perfect fit then.
Taking into account some of the current public discord regarding a variety of science topics, “Tyson says the new Cosmos may have a greater sense of urgency, at a time when issues such as climate change and the risk of asteroid collisions with Earth increasingly concern scientists,” states the National Geographic website.
Just in case you weren’t aware of the dearth of science/technology literacy in the general population, a recent LA Times article reported a study performed by Vouchercloud.net found that 1 in 10 Americans thinks HTML is a sexually transmitted disease (the validity of this survey has been called into question, however)!
Published on March 7th, 2014 | Edited By: April Gocha, PhD
Researchers from the University of Michigan have developed aesthetically-pleasing solar cells. Credit: Michigan Engineering; You Tube.
Researchers from the University of Michigan have a new idea for solar cells—make them pretty. Led by Jay Guo, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, mechanical engineering, and macromolecular science and engineering, the scientists have created thin semitransparent solar cells that can be fabricated with an array of colors and designs. Watch the video above to get Guo’s take on the technology.
“I think this offers a very different way of utilizing solar technology rather than concentrating it in a small area,” Guo said in University of Michigan press release. “Today, solar panels are black and the only place you can put them on a building is the rooftop. And the rooftop of a typical high-rise is so tiny.”
Conventional solar cells are black to absorb the most solar energy, but Guo’s new cells sidestepped the drab. The team created thin solar cells that allowed light to pass through and added colored designs to up the aesthetic factor.
Even though their pretty solar cells absorb less energy, the makeover allowed them to break free from rooftop confinement. The new cells look so nice that putting them in view is no longer a problem. They can be applied to windows, for instance—and windows have a lot of surface area, particularly on tall buildings.
The paper, recently published in Scientific Reports, details how the scientists created their new solar cells with a thin sheet of amorphous silicon sandwiched between semi-transparent electrodes, one of which is made from an organic material. The organic-inorganic hybrid design allowed fabrication of cells ten times thinner than traditional amorphous silicon solar cells, according to the press release.
With the freedom of thin, semi-transparent cells, the scientists then added the aesthetics—they fabricated designs on the cells with reflective layers, including the University of Michigan logo and an American flag. “To get different colors, they varied the thickness of the semiconductor layer of amorphous silicon in the cells,” states the press release. “The blue regions are six nanometers thick while the red is 31 (the team also made green, but that color isn’t in the flag).”
The cells achieved just 2% efficiency, in comparison to the ~10% achieved in standard organic solar cells. But what they lack in functionality, they make up for in looks. Guo said in the press release that a square-meter panel still generates enough electricity to light a fluorescent bulb or small electronics. And the increase in potential surface applications means that sheer surface area can make up for lower efficiency.
The UV-absorber (shown here with the logo of Kiel University’s Faculty of Engineering) is even applicable on flexible materials. Credit: D. Schimmelpfennig/CAU.
The study, published in Applied Physics Letters, details how the scientists developed an ultrathin UV light-absorbing film made from a plasmonic metamaterial (pictured, right). The film, only 20 nm thick, completely absorbs UV light. Most solar cells collect energy from light in the visible or infared regions of the light spectrum.
The researchers used cosputtering to fabricate films with three layers—a top nanocomposite layer containing silver nanoparticles in silicon dioxide and two layers of silicon dioxide with a silver film. The film absorbs UV-A light through reflectivity of the bottom silver layer.
“Since our perfect absorber can be deposited on even flexible substrates, we envision that this structure can be potentially used also in thin film solar panels, which are intended to be used in next generation clothing industry”, first author Mehdi Keshavarz Hedayati said in the press release.
President Obama has delivered to Congress a $3.9-trillion budget request for 2015 that includes $56 billion for his “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative” and increased spending for research and development (R&D).
“The 2015 budget reflects this Administration’s clear-eyed recognition that our Nation’s standing as a global leader today is built largely on a foundation of science and technology,” said Dr. John P. Holdren, President Obama’s science and technology advisor and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in the release. “By continuing the Administration’s record of steady support for research and development across the full spectrum of scientific and technological domains—including such diverse priorities as biomedicine, advanced manufacturing, climate science, cybersecurity, natural resource management, space exploration, and national security—the Budget ensures that the United States will be an incubator of innovation and economic growth for many years to come.”
The R&D budget breaks down to $65.9 billion for non-defense R&D (0.7-percent or $477-million increase) and $69.5 billion for defense R&D (1.7-percent or $1.2-billion increase). Basic and applied research investments saw a 0.4 percent increase over 2014, and investments in development saw a 2.3 percent increase.
The “separate, fully-paid-for” Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative—which, among other priorities, champions advancing clean energy research, investing in advanced manufacturing and regional economic growth, and improving job training—includes an additional $5.4 billion for R&D endeavors.
Additional highlights, direct from the release:
$30.2 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which supports high-quality, innovative, biomedical research at institutions across the United States to improve the health of the American people.
$12.3 billion for R&D at the Department of Energy (DOE), to support such priorities as clean energy and advanced manufacturing, energy security, carbon pollution reduction and climate change mitigation, and modernization of America’s nuclear weapons stockpile and infrastructure—including $5.1 billion for DOE’s Office of Science.
$11.6 billion for R&D at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, to develop systems for human exploration of deep space; continue studies of our planet, the Sun, our solar system and the universe; continue development of the James Webb Space Telescope for launch in 2018; and continue to develop, in collaboration with the private sector, new U.S. capabilities for transporting human crews to the International Space Station.
$7.3 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Nation’s primary source of support for academic research in most non-biomedical disciplines, integrating fundamental research and education across a broad spectrum of science and engineering domains.
$925 million for R&D at the Department of the Interior, including work relating to environmental and natural resource monitoring, energy permitting, ecosystem restoration and management, and Earth observations.
$680 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) intramural laboratories in the Department of Commerce, to support research that promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology.
$2.5 billion for the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), which coordinates and integrates Federal research and applications to assist the Nation and the world in understanding, assessing, predicting, and responding to the human-induced and natural processes of global change and their related impacts and effects.
$3.8 billion for the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program, which provides strategic planning for and coordination of agency research efforts in cybersecurity, high-end computing systems, advanced networking, software development, high-confidence systems, health IT, wireless spectrum sharing, cloud computing, and other information technologies.
$1.5 billion for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), which supports R&D focused on materials, devices, and systems that exploit the unique physical, chemical, and biological properties that emerge in materials at the nanoscale (approximately 1 to 100 nanometers), including Signature Initiatives in such national priority areas as sustainable nanomanufacturing, solar energy, sustainable design of nanoengineered materials, nanoinformatics and modeling, nanoscale technology for sensors, and nano electronics.
Finally—and welcome news for both educators and industry—the 2015 budget provides $2.9 billion for federal investments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, a 3.7-percent increase from 2014 funding. The monies will be used to recruit, train, and support STEM teachers; support “STEM-focused” districts; improve undergraduate education; and invest in research regarding STEM teaching and learning. Click here for a more detailed breakdown of the proposed STEM spending.
As with any budget, the spending is proposed (and subsequently opposed), so we’ll keep an eye on future budget discussions and report back with updates.
3M has invested in MSi Lighting of Boca Raton, Florida, a company that 3M has been working with for the past year on a line of LED lights for multiple applications. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. LED lighting is one of the hottest industries in America. It is estimated that switching to LED lighting over the next two decades could save the country $250 billion in energy costs over that period, reduce the electricity consumption for lighting by nearly one half, and avoid 1,800 million metric tons of carbon emissions.
Corning Incorporated announced that it will transfer the production of Corning Gorilla Glass from its manufacturing facility in Shizuoka, Japan to its facility in Asan, Korea. Corning expects to complete this transfer and to close the east side of its Shizuoka facility by June of 2015. When Corning announced its strategic agreements with Samsung Display Co., Ltd. last October, resulting in the acquisition of Samsung Corning Precision Materials Co., Ltd. – now Corning Precision Materials Co., Ltd. (CPM) – Corning explained that this transaction would deliver strategic and financial benefits to the company. These benefits include the ability to leverage underutilized, low-cost, CPM capacity in Asan, Korea, to produce both LCD display glass and protective cover glass for Corning’s customers worldwide. Corning is now pursuing this particular benefit through its plan to transfer Gorilla Glass production from Shizuoka to CPM.
Owens Corning will unveil nine new products at the upcoming JEC Europe 2014 composites show and conferences in Paris, France. Owens Corning’s new product innovations are designed to collectively deliver productivity improvements and performance benefits in composite applications for the automotive, wind energy, and building and construction markets. Products include: Performax SE4849 Type 30 roving for LFT PP for long fiber reinforced thermoplastic polypropylene used in hot-melt compounding, pultrusion, direct compounding processes, and continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic tapes; ME1510 EP multi-end roving for epoxy sheet molding compound structural composites in automotive applications; WindStrand 2000, 3000, and 4000 Type 30 rovings and Ultrablade G3 and Triax fabrics aimed at reducing total energy production cost to drive wind power to parity with other energy sources; and WUCS 9703 (wet-use chopped strand) products for improved wet web strength and efficient veil manufacturing to support carpet tile, cushion/luxury vinyl flooring, and asphalt roofing shingle applications; and Advantex ME3060 multi-end chop roving for weaving fabrics for industrial applications, such as underground tanks and pipes, wind turbines, and marine products. JEC Europe 2014 is March 11-13 at Porte de Versailles in Paris.
Washington Mills has invested in equipment specially designed for small-scale product development work to help customers test and produce products without costly capital investment. WM’s state-of-the-art experimental furnaces are designed to handle sample volumes as small as five to ten pounds. Complemented by the capacities of their other electric arc fusion furnaces, WM has the capability to test a broad range of product volumes and “scale up” production when needed – from five pounds to thirty tons. WM’s R&D engineers have created a range of new, exotic fused minerals ranging from zirconia-yttria to praseodymium oxide. Clients such as NASA have used Washington Mills’ new product development services to test new fused mineral formulations and to improve the performance of existing materials.
The move toward alternative forms of energy is taking shape in Kelsterbach, a town close to Frankfurt, Germany. Bosch is supplying a flexible energy storage system for a housing complex that is currently under construction there, which comprises 180 townhouses. The system has an installed capacity of 135 kilowatt-hours. The customer is Süwag Erneuerbare Energien GmbH, which is promoting the move toward alternative forms of energy with a concept of its own. The start of operation is planned for the middle of May. The Bosch turnkey energy storage system makes use of lithium-ion technology. The storage unit is some seven meters wide, about 60 centimeters deep, and 1.8 meters high. The storage system has an output of 50 kilowatts and can be charged or discharged within two hours.
Nissan-Renault chief executive Carlos Ghosn insists the future is still bright for electric cars despite pushing a global sales target back by four years. Speaking in the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan where he sealed a deal to supply the government with a fleet of battery-powered Nissan Leafs, Ghosn said the agreement highlighted the potential for the green vehicle market as pressure grows around the world to meet tougher emission standards. Ghosn said that Bhutan could showcase the possibilities for a market which has had to battle complaints about range, performance, refuelling infrastructure and comparatively high prices. As head of Nissan and its French partner Renault, Ghosn has been a long-time evangelist for electric vehicles and remains confident about the future.
Worldwide markets are poised to achieve significant growth as the Stationary Fuel Cells used to provide distributed power for campus environments achieve better technology and economies of scale. They have achieved grid parity in many cases. Stationary fuel cell markets need government sponsorship. As government funding shifts from huge military obligations, sustainable energy policy becomes a compelling investment model for government. Stationary fuel cell markets at $1.2 billion in 2013 are projected to increase to $14.3 billion in 2020. Growth is anticipated to be based on demand for distributed power generation that uses natural gas. Growth is based on global demand and will shift from simple growth to rapid growth measured as a penetration analysis as markets move beyond the early adopter stage. Big box retailers, such as Walmart, and data centers are early adopters.
Published on March 7th, 2014 | Edited By: Jessica McMathis
New research from Penn State’s School of Business suggests that further gender integration in the science and engineering fields could lead to further productivity and innovation. Credit: J. Paxon Reyes on Flickr (Creative Commons License)
“We can do it.”
Those four little words atop the iconic World War II-era Rosie the Riveter poster were a rallying cry for an entire generation of women.
And though there’s no question that the current generation of women have the ability to get it done, new research from Penn State’s School of Business suggests that when it comes to the workplace, the expertise of women working in the science and engineering fields is often underutilized.
In her paper “By Whom and When is Women’s Expertise Recognized? The Interactive Effects of Gender and Education in Science and Engineering Teams,” PSU associate professor Aparna Joshi found that such underutilization often led to less-than-optimal productivity and innovation.
“The rationale for fostering greater gender equity and integration goes beyond ensuring equal employment opportunity for men and women to accelerating scientific productivity and innovation within teams,” Joshi writes in her paper, forthcoming in Administrative Science Quarterly. “In order to fully utilize diverse expertise and maximize productivity and innovation in teams, it is vital to enhance gender diversity within teams and across the disciplines in which these teams are embedded.”
Though statistics from the National Science Foundation show that women in science and engineering (S&E) occupations or those with S&E degrees have doubled over the last two decades, they “remain underrepresented in the S&E workforce, although to a lesser degree than in the past.” They also haven’t broken through the glass ceiling when it comes to corporate roles, faculty positions, and salaries.
Why? Joshi’s collected data shows there is a “disconnect” in team members’ (both male and female) ability to perceive expertise. It further shows that the expertise of women was perceived—again, both by male and female team members—as less, regardless of the degrees earned.
According to her research, men who “identified more with their own gender” valued the expertise of highly educated women less than that of their male team members—and those with less education more than their higher-degree-holding counterparts. The expertise of highly educated women was utilized more in teams consisting of more women, it found.
Published on March 5th, 2014 | Edited By: April Gocha, PhD
The 4th Ceramic Leadership Summit is fast approaching—book now to secure your spot so that you don’t miss great networking opportunities. Credit: ACerS.
The busyness of the workday can obscure the big picture. As former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower so wisely stated, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
So consider for a moment—What is really important to your business—not just today, but next year, and three and five years out?
The 4th Ceramic Leadership Summit (CLS), slated for April 7–9 in Baltimore, Md., is a conference that “focuses on business and technology leadership by connecting attendees with other leaders who can help grow your organization.”
We know it is hard to justify taking a couple of days away from the office or plant, which is why we’ve packed so much practical value into just two days. Between talks, networking, and thought-sharing, this conference is designed to help you maximize your business’s potential with real-world business intelligence that will make a difference right away.
Industry leaders are lined up to deliver some great talks, with interactive sessions that dive in to the current climate, trends, and strategies in business and manufacturing. Plus, you can choose between focused tracks that hone in on innovation (track one) and manufacturing and workforce sustainability(track two) to make the conference work for you.
One of the most valuable parting gifts from any conference (beyond the great discussion and learning) is in the stack of business cards you collect. You never know who you’ll sit next to at dinner or strike up a conversation with during a coffee break—often, those contacts lead to the most fruitful discussions, collaborations, and partnerships.
And at CLS, you’ll be in great networking company—confirmed registrants hail from some of the biggest names in manufacturing. You’ll be able to lunch with attendees from the likes of 3M, Kyocera, Murata Manufacturing, SELEE, GE Aviation, IBM, and Superior Graphite; or chat over a cup of coffee with conference goers from Corning, Elkem, Allied Mineral Products, Swindell Dressler, Kennametal, UTRI, Morgan Crucible, and CelSian Glass and Solar. Not to mention registrants from the academic arena, including MIT, Johns Hopkins, Missouri University, Alfred University, Penn State, and University of Virginia.
If that sounds like a lot of networking, it is. But with an initial welcome session, coffee breaks, networking lunches, dinners, and even an optional tour of the Walters Art Museum—just think how well you can maximize your time in those two days away from the office.
In the words of meeting organizers, “If your work relies on the business-end of ceramics, you cannot afford to miss the 4th Annual Ceramic Leadership Summit.”
Early bird registration ends this Friday, March 7, so nab a nametag today (and save $150)! The cut-off date for discounted hotel registration closes March 12, so don’t forget to book your room, too. And for the complete lineup, see the advance program here (PDF).
Published on March 5th, 2014 | Edited By: April Gocha, PhD
Dartmouth researchers used this experimental design to show how heating iron oxide nanoparticles may be the newest treatment for metastatic cancer. Credit: Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
Iron oxide nanoparticles aren’t new to the scene of cancer therapy.
The scientists used an alternating magnetic field to heat iron oxide nanoparticles injected directly into a mouse tumor, warming the nanoparticles to 43°C for just half an hour. While you can imagine how heat kills local cells, the results show something more interesting is going on.
In a Dartmouth University press release, senior author and Dartmouth genetics professor Steven Fiering says, “The study demonstrates that controlled heating of one tumor can stimulate an immune response that attacks another tumor that has not had the heat treatment. This is one way to try to train the immune system to attack metastatic tumors that may not be recognized yet.”
The results show directed heat therapy to just one localized tumor in a mouse generates a whole body-wide immune response to those cancer cells. In this system, the lynchpin of the immune response is activation of CD8+ cells, otherwise known as killer T cells. Killer T cells are white blood cells that live up to their name—they’re kind of like tiny policemen in your blood, trolling for bad guys (e.g., cancer cells, virus-infected cells, or otherwise damaged cells) and taking them out.
Schematic diagram of how the immune response, particularly CD8-positive T cells, mediates anti-tumor effects in local and distant tumors. Credit: Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
So treating a tumor to hot iron oxide nanoparticles helps kill the localized tumor, but also posts “mug shots” so that the rest of the immune system can recognize the bad guy and his accomplices. The response shows the immune system what to look for, allowing even distant immune cells to recognize rogue cancer cells and take them out. These new results are some of the latest in a promising new field of cancer research called cancer immunotherapy, which tries to harness the killing power of the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.
The precise temperature of the nanoparticles was important for the Dartmouth researchers’ results, which is why iron oxide nanoparticles could have a big role in the future of tumor therapy. The nanoparticles and magnetic field allowed the scientists to precisely control what was happening in the tumor, allowing fine-tuning to find that cancer-killing sweet spot.
The developments are an exciting advance for the treatment of metastatic cancer. Metastasis occurs when tumor cells wander away from a tumor and find their way into the circulatory system, allowing the spread of cancer to distant sites. Metastatic cancer is difficult to treat and often signals the end for cancer patients, because no current treatments can efficiently tackle nomadic cancer cells. Let’s hope this new development can help change that.
Published on March 5th, 2014 | Edited By: Jessica McMathis
Crews working on the proposed kilometer-high Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (artist rendering above) are faced with a number of construction challenges, including pumping concrete more than a half mile into the sky. Credit: eager on Flickr. (Creative Commons License)
When the 1,450-foot-high Willis Tower (better known by its Sears surname) and the 1,776-foot One World Trade Center went toe-to-toe for title of the country’s tallest building late last year, it was One World Trade that emerged the victor by a (very controversial) spire.
However, both are dwarfed by what will be the world’s first kilometer-high, and subsequently tallest, building—the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
According to Gizmodo, construction of the $1.23-billion “sky-higher” tower—a proposed 200-floor, 3,280-foot-tall tower of concrete, glass, and steel—has begun and developers are faced with **many challenges—wind loads, rigidity, and vertical transportation, to name a few—as well as one colossal concrete problem: How, exactly, do you pump the wet composite more than a half a mile into the sky? (**The title of this post is hyperbolic, of course, but there are numerous challenges to building any building, let alone the world’s tallest.)
Challenge no. 1: Building a strong foundation. The future Kingdom Tower sits just along the Red Sea, and, as a result, requires a 200-foot-deep foundation built from high-performance concrete to stand the test of time against Big Red’s salty waters.
Challenge no. 2: What goes up must go up. Once the foundation is firm, it’s a matter of ACTS engineers determining how they will manage to pump wet concrete (more than a million tons of it!) vertically through a six-inch, pressurized tube. Gizmodo reports that they’ll be looking to the construction of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (which at 2,722 feet is currently the world’s tallest structure). During the build, the crew’s high-tech concrete pumps were only able to be used at night due to steamy daytime temps fit for little but camels and cacti.
Challenge no. 3: Will it ever see completion? That’s a question only answered by the test of time, funding, and the unforgiving power of gravity (see challenge two).
“There might be constraints for the structural engineering – we don’t know many things,” said Dr. Sang Dae Kim, chairman of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat in a recent Construction Week Online article. “When you go up to one or two kilometres, we don’t have much information surrounding the conditions.”
Published on March 5th, 2014 | Edited By: P. Carlo Ratto
Austrian fireproof materials maker RHI is confident it can turn its Norwegian plant, whose troubles cut into the company’s full-year results, to a profitable status within two years. Chief executive Franz Strutzl said recently that the proposal to close the magnesia-fusion plant was now off the table, as major technical problems had been resolved. However, work remains to be done to reduce production costs.
(The Conversation) Sea sapphires are an exception among copepods. Though they are often small, a few millimeters, they are stunningly beautiful. Like their namesake gem, different species of sea sapphire shine in different hues, from bright gold to deep blue. Africa isn’t the only place they can be found. I have since seen them off the coasts of Rhode Island and California in the US. When they are abundant near the water’s surface the sea shimmers like diamonds falling from the sky. Japanese fishermen of old had a name for this kind of water, “tama-mizu”, jewelled water. The reason for their shimmering beauty is both complex and mysterious, relating to their unique social behaviour and strange crystalline skin. A key clue is that these flashes are only seen in males.
Cincinnati Incorporated and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have signed a partnership agreement to develop a new large-scale additive manufacturing system capable of printing polymer components up to 10 times larger than currently producible, and at speeds 200 to 500 times faster than existing additive machines. The cooperative research and development agreement—signed at ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn.—aims to introduce significant new capabilities to the US machine tool sector, which supplies manufacturing technology to a wide range of industries including automotive, aerospace, appliance and robotics. A prototype of the large-scale additive machine is in development using the chassis and drives of Cincinnati’s gantry-style laser cutting system as the base, with plans to incorporate a high-speed cutting tool, pellet feed mechanism and control software for additional capability.
A big step in the development of next-generation fuel cells and water-alkali electrolyzers has been achieved with the discovery of a new class of bimetallic nanocatalysts that are an order of magnitude higher in activity than the target set by the US Department of Energy for 2017. The new catalysts, hollow polyhedral nanoframes of platinum and nickel, feature a three-dimensional catalytic surface activity that makes them significantly more efficient and far less expensive than the best platinum catalysts used in today’s fuel cells and alkaline electrolyzers. This research was a collaborative effort between DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory.
Nanotechnology has had an established role in industry for many years. For more than a decade, the National Science Foundation has supported cross-disciplinary nanoscale science and engineering research, helping to spawn global growth in nanotechnology research and development. To help quantify that growth, Lux Research (login required) released a new report on global spending for emerging nanotechnology and the next generation of nano-enabled products. These findings help illustrate the long-term impact investments in fundamental science and engineering research under an innovative initiative can have on the global marketplace.
Silver is really good at confining light and grapheme is really good at efficiently moving electrons. Combining these materials, researchers at Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, in collaboration with scientists at Northwestern University, are the first to grow graphene on silver, which, until now, posed a major challenge to many in the field. Part of the issue has to do with the properties of silver; the other involves the process by which graphene is grown. Chemical vapor deposition is currently the industry standard for growing graphene. The technique allows hydrocarbons, like methane or ethylene, to decompose onto a hot platform in order to form carbon atoms that become graphene. However, this technique doesn’t work with a silver platform. To figure out how to grow graphene on silver, the researchers needed to understand the atomic and molecular properties of the material. The first step in growing the graphene layer was making sure the silver substrate was “atomically clean”—a hard standard to meet. To initially clean the platform, researchers used a technique called “sputter annealing.” This is where the platform used to grow the graphene is sprayed with ions that chew up the surface and rids it of any organic or inorganic material. The next step is to anneal the metal, a process“that heals it and allows for atomically clean and flat surfaces. After a series of examinations, the researchers discovered that they had successfully deposited a single layer of graphene on silver.