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[Image above] Credit: NIST


Nanoporous material’s strange ‘breathing’ behavior

High-tech sponges of the infinitely small, nanoporous materials can capture and release gaseous or liquid chemicals in a controlled way. A team of French and German researchers has developed and described one of these materials, DUT-49. When pressure is increased, the material contracts suddenly and releases its contents—as if, when inhaling, the lungs contracted and expelled the air that they contained.

For stronger, lighter, cheaper materials, scroll up

A team from MIT and Harvard University fabricated nanoscrolls made from graphene oxide flakes and was able to control the dimensions of each nanoscroll, using both low- and high-frequency ultrasonic techniques. The scrolls have mechanical properties that are similar to graphene, and they can be made at a fraction of the cost, the researchers say.

NREL reveals potential for capturing waste heat via nanotubes

A finely tuned carbon nanotube thin film has the potential to act as a thermoelectric power generator that captures and uses waste heat, according to researchers at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Lab. The research could help guide the manufacture of thermoelectric devices based on either single-walled carbon nanotube films or composites containing these nanotubes.

Cost-effective production of hydrogen from natural resources

A joint research team, led by researchers at UNIST, South Korea, has developed a cost-effective and scalable technique for synthesizing silicon nanosheets (SiNSs), using natural clay and salt. The research team reported an all-in-one strategy for the synthesis of high-purity SiNSs through the high-temperature molten salt-induced exfoliation and simultaneous chemical reduction of natural clays.

New hybrid inks permit printed, flexible electronics without sintering

Research scientists at INM – Leibniz-Institute for New Materials have now combined the benefits of organic and inorganic electronic materials in a new type of hybrid inks. This allows electronic circuits to be applied to paper directly from a pen, for example. To create their hybrid inks, the research scientists coated nanoparticles made of metals with organic, conductive polymers and suspended them in mixtures of water and alcohol.


Solar cell generates power from raindrops

A team of Chinese scientists have developed a solar cell with an atom-thick graphene layer that harvests energy from raindrops, making it useful even on the gloomiest days. Water actually sticks to the graphene, creating a sort of natural capacitor—the sharp difference in energy between the graphene’s electrons and the water’s ions produces electricity.

Battery components can take the heat

Rice University materials scientists have introduced a combined electrolyte and separator for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that supplies energy at usable voltages and in high temperatures. An essential part of the nonflammable, toothpaste-like composite is hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN), the atom-thin compound often called “white graphene.”


New theory, inspired by chocolate coatings, predicts thickness of thin shells

Now, a theory and a simple fabrication technique derived by MIT engineers may help chocolate artisans create uniformly smooth shells and precisely tailor their thickness. The research should also have uses far beyond the chocolate shop: By knowing just a few key variables, engineers could predict the mechanical response of many other types of shells, from small pharmaceutical capsules to large airplane and rocket bodies.

Scientists study the insulator-superconductor transition of copper-oxide compound

Using a highly controlled deposition technique, scientists from Brookhaven National Lab have synthesized ultrathin films containing multiple samples of a copper-oxide compound to study the compound’s electronic behavior at near absolute zero. This technique is helping scientists understand how electrons behave as this material transitions from being an insulator to a superconductor capable of carrying electric current with no resistance.

Physicists discover platinum-tin material that may speed computing

Physicists at Ames Laboratory have discovered a topological metal, PtSn4, with a unique electronic structure that may someday lead to energy efficient computers with increased processor speeds and data storage. In PtSn4, the scientists not only discovered a high density of conduction electrons, but also large number of closely positioned Dirac points forming extended lines or Dirac node arcs.

Quantum dots enhance light-to-current conversion in layered metal dichalcogenides

Scientists from the Brookhaven National Lab, Stony Brook University, and the University of Nebraska describe a new approach that combines the excellent light-harvesting properties of quantum dots with the tunable electrical conductivity of a layered tin disulfide semiconductor. The hybrid material exhibited enhanced light-harvesting properties and energy transfer to tin disulfide.

Crumpling approach enhances photodetectors’ light responsivity

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have demonstrated a new approach to modifying the light absorption and stretchability of atomically thin 2-D- materials by surface topographic engineering using only mechanical strain. The highly flexible system has future potential for wearable technology and integrated biomedical optical sensing technology when combined with flexible light-emitting diodes.


Photochemical metallization allows the manufacture of touchscreens in a single step

Research scientists at INM – Leibniz-Institute for New Materials are now presenting a new process that, in a single step, allows manufacture of conductive paths that are just a few micrometers in width on carrier materials such as glass but also on flexible foils. On plastic foil, in particular, manufacture using the roll-to-roll process thus becomes particularly efficient.

Flying high: 3-D printed parts in real planes

Large corporations in the aerospace and defense industry are building real airplane parts that are fully functional. The aerospace industry is gravitating towards 3-D printing not only because of the associated government funding, but because of the immense design benefits that come with it. Re-engineered parts of new design can significantly improve performance, efficiency, and greatly reduce the weight of components.