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[Image above] Credit: NIST

Nanoparticles—small but unique

Scientists at Chalmers University of Technology have developed a new way to study nanoparticles one at a time, and have discovered that individual particles that may seem identical in fact can have very different properties. The results may prove to be important when developing new materials or applications, such as hydrogen sensors for fuel cell cars.

Paper tubes make stiff origami structures

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Tokyo have developed a new “zippered tube” configuration that makes paper structures that are stiff enough to hold weight yet can fold flat for easy shipping and storage. Their method could be applied to other thin materials, such as plastic or metal, to transform structures from furniture to buildings to microscopic robots.

Laser levitates glowing nanodiamonds in vacuum

University of Rochester researchers have, for the first time, levitated individual nanodiamonds in vacuum. The nanodiamonds can contain nitrogen-vacancy centers that emit light and also have a spin quantum number of one. The researchers explain this is the first step towards creating a “hybrid quantum system.” Their system combines the mechanical motion of the nanodiamond with the internal spin of the vacancy and its optical properties to make it particularly promising for a number of applications.

Super-stretchable metallic conductors for flexible electronics

Washington State University researchers have discovered how to stretch metal films used in flexible electronics to twice their size without breaking. The researchers found that when they made a metal film out of indium and periodically bonded it to a plastic layer commonly used in electronics, they were able to stretch the metal film to twice its original length. When the pieces broke, it was actually the plastic layer that failed, not the metal.

New nanomaterial maintains conductivity in three dimensions

An international team of scientists has developed what may be the first one-step process for making seamless carbon-based nanomaterials that possess superior thermal, electrical and mechanical properties in three dimensions. To make the 3-D material, the researchers etched radially aligned nanoholes along the length and circumference of a tiny aluminum wire, then used chemical vapor deposition to cover the surface with graphene using no metal catalyst that could remain in the structure.

A close-up view of materials as they stretch or compress

A team of researchers from the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Advanced Photon Source, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Carnegie Mellon University, and PulseRay worked together to pursue a shared goal of characterizing structural materials in unprecedented detail. The group describes how they created a system to squeeze and stretch a material while at the same time rotating and bombarding it with high-energy synchrotron X-rays. The X-rays capture information about how the material responds to the mechanical stress.