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[Image above] Credit: NIST


Watching the dance of nanoparticles

Advancing nanoscale understanding, a team of Chinese researchers has developed a visualization technique based on in situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM) that offers novel and powerful functionality. It directly correlates the atomic-scale structure with physical and chemical properties.

New low-defect method to nitrogen dope graphene resulting in tunable bandstructure

An interdisciplinary team of scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory has demonstrated hyperthermal ion implantation as an effective means of substitutionally doping graphene—a hexagonally-arranged single-atomic thickness carbon sheet—with nitrogen atoms. The result is a low-defect film with a tunable bandstructure amenable to a variety of device platforms and applications.

Tiny diamonds could enable huge advances in nanotechnology

University of Maryland researchers developed a quick and inexpensive method for constructing diamond-based hybrid nanoparticles in large quantities from the ground up. The process begins with nanoscale diamonds containing a ‘nitrogen vacancy’ impurity. By attaching quantum dots, the researchers can create various hybrid nanoparticles, including nanoscale semiconductors and magnets with precisely tailored properties.


Novel solar absorber to improve efficiency of concentrating solar power technology

Masdar Institute researchers have discovered a novel way to significantly increase the amount of sunlight that a solar absorber can convert into heat. By converting more of the solar energy that reaches Earth’s surface into heat in a low-cost way, the solar absorber can help make sustainable technologies that rely on solar heat, like solar thermal technologies, more efficient and affordable.

Oregon chemists build a new, stable open-shell molecule

University of Oregon chemists have synthesized a stable and long-lasting carbon-based molecule that, they say, potentially could be applicable in solar cells and electronic devices. The molecule changes its bonding patterns to a magnetic biradical state when heated; it then returns to a fully bonded non-magnetic closed state at room temperature. That transition, they report, can be done repeatedly without decomposition.

Towards building next-generation batteries using a pigment electrode

Researchers have demonstrated calcium ion batteries (CIBs) using pigment electrodes such as Prussian blue and its analogues. The CIBs showed excellent cyclability of discharge and charge in a calcium-based organic electrolyte. This is thought to derive from strong atomic bonds in Prussian blue structures, which possess movable pathways for large-sized ions in three dimensions.

Origami ninja star inspires new battery that runs on a few drops of dirty water

A new disposable battery that folds like an origami ninja star could power biosensors and other small devices for use in challenging field conditions, says an engineer at Binghamton University, State University of New York. The research team developed a microbial fuel cell that runs on the bacteria available in a few drops of dirty water.


Study looks at bacteria to remove metals from mine-impacted water

Researchers at Penn State are refining a natural, low-cost process that will help remove some of the most abundant pollutants, such as iron, from mine-contaminated water. The team enriched iron-oxidizing bacteria from two acid mine drainage sites in Pennsylvania’s Appalachian coal basin and then measured the rates of iron oxidation at low-pH values.

Research accelerates next-generation ultra-precise sensing technology

The mining, navigation, minerals exploration and environmental hydrology sectors are set to benefit from new University of Queensland research into quantum technology. Theoretical physicists have demonstrated a technique that can be universally applied to theoretical calculations of matter-wave dynamics and used to improve the sensitivity of measurement devices.


‘Breaking me softly:’ New fiber findings reported

A finding by a University of Central Florida researcher has unlocked a means of controlling materials at the nanoscale and opens the door to a new generation of manufacturing. Using a pair of pliers in each hand and gradually pulling taut a piece of glass fiber coated in plastic, associate professor Ayman Abouraddy found that something unexpected and never before documented occurred—the inner fiber fragmented in an orderly fashion.


Four newest elements on periodic table get names

Four new elements now have names. In December, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry officially recognized the discovery of elements 113, 115, 117 and 118, filling out the seventh row of the periodic table. As is traditional in chemistry, the naming rights go to the discoverers: Scientists at RIKEN in Wako, Japan, named element 113, and a Russian-U.S. collaboration named the others.

Mixing glass particles in liquid enhances optical properties of both

By immersing glass particles in a fluid, researchers at MIT’s Media Lab and Harvard University are exploring a new mechanism for modifying an optical device’s diffusivity, or the extent to which it scatters light. The researchers believe that their mechanism could ultimately lead to holographic video screens or to tunable optical devices with applications in imaging, sensing, and photography.

Spintronics development gets boost with new findings into ferromagnetism in Mn-doped GaAs

A research group at Tohoku University’s WPI-AIMR has succeeded in finding the origin and the mechanism of ferromagnetism in Mn-doped GaAs. The researchers directly observed the electronic states that participate in creating the ferromagnetism by photoemission spectroscopy. They found that doped Mn atoms extract electrons from As atoms, leaving holes in the As orbital—this then causes the ferromagnetism.

An unusual silicon-rich alloy offers enhanced channeling of light for optical computer chips

To improve the efficiency of waveguides—devices that guide light on the surface of silicon optical computer chips—a complex balance must be struck. The need for enhanced optical signal processing properties competes with the demand for low optical losses in waveguide material. Now, researchers at A*STAR, Singapore, have developed an alloy that fits the bill, while achieving compatibility with existing silicon computer chip fabrication technology.

Magnetic material could host wily Weyl fermions

An elusive massless particle could exist in a magnetic crystal structure, revealed by neutron and X-ray research from a team of scientists led by Oak Ridge National Lab and the University of Tennessee. The team studied a material containing the dense element osmium and documented two conditions required for the presence of Weyl fermions—massless particles predicted in 1929 and observed experimentally for the first time in 2015.