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[Image above] Credit: NIST


Nanomaterial safety screening could be faster, cheaper with new laboratory test

UCLA researchers have designed a laboratory test that uses microchip technology to predict how potentially hazardous nanomaterials could be. The new platform, which is called semiconductor electronic label-free assay, or SELFA, uses microchip technology to analyze samples. The SELFA chip contains a T-shaped nanowire that acts as an integrated sensor and amplifier.

Nanoribbons in solutions mimic nature

Graphene nanoribbons bend and twist easily in solution, making them adaptable for biological uses like DNA analysis, drug delivery and biomimetic applications, according to scientists at Rice University. The researchers discovered that all nanoribbons become rigid under stress, but their rigidity increases as oxide molecules are removed to turn graphene oxide nanoribbons into graphene nanoribbons.

‘Sniffer plasmons’ from graphene could detect explosives

Physicists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology have found that graphene might be the ideal material for manufacturing plasmonic devices capable of detecting explosive materials, toxic chemicals, and other organic compounds based on a single molecule. The research has led them to develop a quantum model that predicts plasmonic behavior in graphene.


Lithium-ion batteries: Capacity might be increased by six times

The capacity of lithium-ion batteries might be increased by six times by using anodes made of silicon instead of graphite. A team from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin Institute of Soft Matter and Functional Materials has observed for the first time in detail how lithium ions migrate into thin films of silicon. It was shown that extremely thin layers of silicon would be sufficient to achieve the maximal load of lithium.

Material for polymer solar cells may lend itself to large-area processing

New research results from an international team led by NIST indicates that the “sweet spot” for mass-producing polymer solar cells may be far larger than dictated by conventional wisdom. In experiments using a mock-up of a high-volume, roll-to-roll processing method, the researchers produced polymer-based solar cells with a “power conversion efficiency” of better than 9.5%, just shy of the minimum commercial target of 10%.

Simulating complex catalysts key to making cheap, powerful fuel cells

Using a unique combination of advanced computational methods, University of Wisconsin–Madison chemical engineers have demystified some of the complex catalytic chemistry in fuel cells—an advance that brings cost-effective fuel cells closer to reality.

Using nanotechnology to give fuel cells more oomph

A team of researchers from Vanderbilt University, Nissan North America, and Georgia Institute of Technology have teamed up to create a new technology designed to give fuel cells more oomph. The project is part of a $13 million Department of Energy program to advance fuel cell performance and durability and hydrogen storage technologies announced last month.


Living structural materials could open new horizons for architects, engineers

DARPA is launching the Engineered Living Materials program with a goal of creating a new class of materials that combines the structural properties of traditional building materials with attributes of living systems. Living materials represent a new opportunity to leverage engineered biology to solve existing problems associated with the construction and maintenance of built environments.

Towards a better screen: New molecules promise cheaper, more efficient OLED displays

Harvard University researchers have designed more than 1,000 new blue-light emitting molecules for OLEDs. The interdisciplinary team developed a large-scale, computer-driven screening process that incorporates theoretical and experimental chemistry, machine learning, and cheminformatics to quickly identify new OLED molecules that perform as well as, or better than, industry standards.

Hot ‘new’ material found to exist in nature

One of the hottest new materials is a class of porous solids known as metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs. Researchers are working on ways to use them as molecular sponges for applications such as hydrogen storage, carbon sequestration, or photovoltaics. Now, a surprising discovery by scientists in Canada and Russia reveals that MOFs also exist in nature—albeit in the form of rare minerals found so far only in Siberian coal mines.

Researchers synthesize uniquely structured platinum-based superconducting material

A team of researchers from Japan’s Hokkaido University along with colleagues at the Kyushu Institute of Technology, NEC Corporation, Keio University and the National Institute for Materials Science have developed a novel superconducting material based on platinum, which was, until recently, thought to be unsuitable as a superconducting material.

Self-cleaning, anti-reflective, microorganism-resistant coatings

A researcher at the University of the Basque Country has developed three types of functional coatings that are resistant to microorganisms and have self-cleaning and anti-reflective properties. By modifying the surface of paints he has managed to vary their properties or their possible applications at a lower cost in comparison with the materials existing on the market.

Novel smart materials inspired by sea creatures

A suite of new materials developed in the lab of UConn researcher Luyi Sun can change their appearance and quickly revert to their original state, just like the squid and jellyfish that inspired them. The materials, which are stretchable, thin, and slightly squishy, have potential applications in smart windows, display optics, and encryption technology.

New material discovery allows study of elusive Weyl fermion

Researchers at Ames Laboratory have discovered a new type of Weyl semimetal, a material that opens the way for further study of Weyl fermions, a type of massless elementary particle hypothesized by high-energy particle theory and potentially useful for creating high-speed electronic circuits and quantum computers. Researchers created the material from a crystal of molybdenum and tellurium.