Sapphire—beautiful in all its morphologies. Credit: YouTube.
(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.