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[Images above] Credit: NIST


Research reveals how material defects influence melting process

Brown University researchers showed how impurities, particularly interstitials, in a 2D material can disrupt the order of a system and cause melting to begin before the Kosterlitz-Thouless theory predicts it should.

Minimizing thermal conductivity of crystalline material with optimal nanostructure

Researchers from The University of Tokyo successfully minimized thermal conductivity of semiconductor materials by designing, fabricating, and evaluating the optimal nanostructure-multilayer materials through materials informatics.

White nanolight source for optical nanoimaging

Researchers in Japan generated a white nanolight source spanning across the entire visible light range through plasmon nanofocusing. Using the process, they demonstrated spectral bandgap nanoimaging of carbon nanotubes.

Cut nanometric patterns into 2D materials

Researchers at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne developed a high-precision technology based on a localized heat and pressure source that enables them to carve nanometric patterns into 2D materials.


Reduced graphene oxide doubles toughness of ceramic electrolytes

By combining a ceramic material with reduced graphene oxide, Brown University engineers made what they say is the toughest solid electrolyte built to date. Mechanical testing of the composite showed a more than two-fold increase in toughness compared to ceramic alone.

Graphdiyne as a functional lithium-ion storage material

Scientists investigated the carbonic nanoweb “graphdiyne” as a novel 2D carbon network for its suitability in battery applications. Graphdiyne is as flat and thin as graphene, but it has a higher porosity and adjustable electronic properties.

Engineers simulate solar cell work using supercomputers

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers worked with colleagues at the Hanoi University of Science and Technology in Vietnam to create simulations that identified four lead-free perovskites as promising candidates for solar cell materials. Two of them have already been synthesized and the other two are recommended for further investigations.

A proven method for stabilizing fusion plasmas

Researchers at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory developed a control scheme to optimize the levels of magnetic fields to allow for maximum fusion performance without edge localized modes in tokamaks. The scheme focuses on controlling the “pedestal,” the thin, dense layer of plasma near the edge of the tokamak.

Using Jenga to explain lithium-ion batteries

A team in the University of Birmingham’s School of Chemistry devised an educational tool that uses the tower block game Jenga to explain the processes at work inside battery cells and the electrochemistry behind them.


Smart sponge could clean up oil spills

Researchers funded by the National Science Foundation developed a porous smart sponge with the ability to absorb more than 30 times its weight in oil. The secret to its abilities lies in a nanocomposite coating of magnetic nanostructures and a carbon-based substrate that is oleophilic (attracts oil), hydrophobic (resists water), and magnetic.

Using sunlight to save satellites from a fate of ‘space junk’

Satellites are almost always illuminated by the sun, apart from short transitions to Earth’s shadow. The light a satellite reflects can help reveal the solution to a structural malfunction.


Scientists apply ‘twistronics’ to light propagation and make a breakthrough discovery

Researchers led by The City University of New York Advanced Science Research Center showed that at the photonic magical twist angle in stacked sheets of molybdenum trioxide, the configured bilayer supports robust, diffraction-free light propagation in tightly focused channel beams over a wide range of wavelengths.

Quantum diamond sensing

University of Maryland researchers report a new quantum sensing technique that allows high-resolution NMR spectroscopy on small molecules in dilute solution in a 10 picoliter sample volume—roughly equivalent to a single cell. They did so by developing a system that uses nitrogen-vacancy quantum defects in diamonds to detect the NMR signals.

Self-driving cars that recognize free space can better detect objects

Carnegie Mellon University researchers borrowed techniques from map-making to help LiDAR systems reason about visibility when trying to recognize objects. When tested against a standard benchmark, the new method improved detection by 10.7% for cars, 5.3% for pedestrians, 7.4% for trucks, 18.4% for buses, and 16.7% for trailers.

MIT, NIST create first room-temp ‘magnon switch’ with industrially useful properties

Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a practical technique for controlling magnons that operates efficiently at room temperature, and the device can be built on silicon rather than exotic and expensive substrates.

New superlens has potential to circumvent classical optics laws

Russian and Danish researchers made a first-ever experimental observation of a plasmon nanojet. This physical phenomenon enables nanoscale focusing of light and, theoretically, lets engineers bypass one of the fundamental limitations of an ordinary converging lens.

Design method may boost semiconductor performance by better handling heat

Researchers at The Pennsylvania State University used supercomputers to test a design that inserts nanometer-sized holes into a silicon semiconductor and found the resulting model, which consists of evenly distributed spherical-shaped inclusions, could dramatically influence the ability to channel heat via atomic vibrations.