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[Image above] Credit: NIST

Registration extended for Biomimicry Summit and Education Forum

Over the course of more than 30 presentations and interactive sessions, this summit and forum explores a multitude of ways nature’s biomimictry is inspiring space exploration, robotics, materials development and redevelopment, communication technology, architecture, and much more. The event takes place August 2–4, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio. Hurry—the registration deadline is extended to Friday, July 29!


Nanotech ‘tattoo’ can map emotions and monitor muscle activity

A new temporary “electronic tattoo” developed by Tel Aviv University can measure the activity of muscle and nerve cells. The tattoo consists of a carbon electrode, an adhesive surface that attaches to the skin, and a nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating that enhances the electrode’s performance.

NASA eyes first-ever carbon-nanotube mirrors for CubeSat telescope

A lightweight telescope that a team of NASA scientists and engineers is developing specifically for CubeSat scientific investigations could become the first to carry a mirror made of carbon nanotubes in an epoxy resin. Unlike most telescope mirrors made of glass or aluminum, carbon nanotubes exhibit extraordinary strength and unique electrical properties and are efficient conductors of heat.

A full-filling approach to making carbon nanotubes of consistent quality

NIST has devised a cheap, quick and effective strategy that reliably enhances the quality and consistency of the carbon nanotubes—important for using them effectively in applications such as new computing technologies. To prevent filling of the cores of single-wall carbon nanotubes with water or other detrimental substances, the NIST researchers advise intentionally prefilling them with a desired chemical of known properties

Graphene-infused packaging is a million times better at blocking moisture

Plastic packaging might seem impenetrable, but water molecules can still pass through. To better protect goods such as electronics and medicines, scientists have developed a new kind of packaging that incorporates a single layer of graphene. Their material reduces by a million fold how much water can get through.

Germs add ripples to make ‘groovy’ graphene

Graphene has attracted intense interest for its phenomenal ability to conduct electricity. Now researchers have used rod-shaped bacteria—precisely aligned in an electric field, then vacuum-shrunk under a graphene sheet—to introduce nanoscale ripples in the material, causing it to conduct electrons differently in perpendicular directions.


Engineering researchers strive to create cheaper, more efficient third-generation solar cells

Kennesaw State researchers have recently fabricated tiny and delicate nanostructured solar cells, which are about 100 times thinner than a human hair. The researchers say one of the most promising materials for future generation solar cells is an ultra-thin hybrid perovskite noncrystalline film. Rather than using expensive silicon, they fabricate their solar cells on cheap glass substrates like those in windows and beverage bottles.

New light harvesting potentials uncovered: Quantum-confined bandgap narrowing mechanism

Researchers for the first time have found a quantum-confined bandgap narrowing mechanism where UV absorption of the graphene quantum dots and TiO2 nanoparticles can easily be extended into the visible light range. Such a mechanism may allow the design of a new class of composite materials for light harvesting and optoelectronics.


Tiny microchips enable extreme space science

As NASA spacecraft explore deeper into space, onboard computer electronics must not only be smaller and faster, but also be prepared for extreme conditions. A prime example is a family of Application Specific Integrated Circuits, or ASICs, microchips specifically designed to measure the particles in space—the very stuff that can create radiation hazards for satellite computers.

New materials for construction of metal-organic 2-D quasicrystals

Unlike classical crystals, quasicrystals do not comprise periodic units, even though they do have a superordinate structure. The formation of the fascinating mosaics that they produce is barely understood. Researchers at the Technical University of Munich have now presented a methodology that allows the production of 2-D quasicrystals from metal-organic networks, opening the door to the development of promising new materials.

Scientists optimize defects for better superconducting effects

Researchers at Argonne National Lab have developed a rational approach to optimize the arrangement of defects to enhance the current-carrying capacity of commercial high-temperature superconducting wires. “By putting a series of grooves in the material, we can trap the ‘marbles’ and arrest the motion of the vortices.”

Engineers develop octopus-inspired smart adhesive pads

With increased study of bio-adhesives, a significant effort has been made in search for novel adhesives that will combine reversibility, repeated usage, stronger bonds and faster bonding time, non-toxic, and more importantly be effective in wet and other extreme conditions. A team of Korean scientists has recently found a way to make building flexible pressure sensors by mimicking the suction cups on octopus’s tentacles.

Watch out, silicon chips: Molecular electronics are coming

Technion researchers have developed a method for growing carbon nanotubes that could lead to the day when molecular electronics replace the ubiquitous silicon chip as the building block of electronics. Their breakthrough also makes it possible to study the dynamic properties of CNTs, including acceleration, resonance (vibration), and the transition from softness to hardness.

Scientists grow atomically thin transistors and circuits

In an advance that helps pave the way for next-generation electronics and computing technologies—and possibly paper-thin gadgets—scientists with Lawrence Berkeley National Lab developed a way to chemically assemble transistors and circuits that are only a few atoms thick. What’s more, their method yields functional structures at a scale large enough to begin thinking about real-world applications and commercial scalability.