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[Image above] Credit: NIST


Advanced nano-cutter boosts emerging materials research

The University of Wisconsin–Madison College of Engineering is the new home of a unique machine capable of milling in three dimensions with nanometer precision. The machine, called the ROBONANO α-0iB, is the first of its kind in North America, and offers the sort of advanced technological capabilities that represent the future of advanced manufacturing.

Electron beam microscope directly writes nanoscale features in liquid with metal ink

Oak Ridge National Lab scientists have harnessed a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) to directly write tiny patterns in metallic ‘ink,’ forming features in liquid that are finer than half the width of a human hair. The automated process is controlled by weaving a STEM instrument’s electron beam through a liquid-filled cell to spur deposition of metal onto a silicon microchip.

Integrating graphene, reduced graphene oxide onto silicon chips at room temperature

North Carolina State University researchers have developed a technique that allows them to integrate graphene, graphene oxide, and reduced graphene oxide onto silicon substrates at room temperature using lasers. The advance raises the possibility of creating new electronic devices and smart biomedical sensors.

Understanding how flat phosphorus grows

Modeling the growth of tiny flakes of a 2-D form of phosphorus could help researchers one day produce better electronics. The door to developing superior electronic devices, such as flexible circuits, has been nudged open by Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research researchers’ modeling of possible methods to manufacture one of the crucial ingredients.

Researchers identify nanoscale elements that govern the behavior of our teeth

Some nanoscale elements that govern the behavior of our teeth have now been identified by scientists. Material and structures engineers worked with dentists and bioengineers to map the exact composition and structure of tooth enamel at the atomic scale.


New tech promises to boost electric vehicle efficiency, range

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new type of inverter device with greater efficiency in a smaller, lighter package—which should improve the fuel-efficiency and range of hybrid and electric vehicles. The researchers developed an inverter using off-the-shelf components made of the wide-bandgap semiconductor material silicon carbide.

Advancing lithium-air batteries with development of novel catalyst

A fundamental step forward has been taken in advancing Li-air through the development of mixed metal catalyst that could lead to more efficient electrode reactions in the battery. The study details a cathode catalyst composed of three transition metals (manganese, nickel, and cobalt), which can create the right oxidation state during the battery cycling to enable both the catalysis of the charge and the discharge reaction.

Couple solar panels with lead-acid batteries to increase electricity self-sufficiency in households
Investigators have used simulations to show that coupling solar panels with lead-acid batteries can boost electricity self-sufficiency in households. Their simulations reveal that the maximum rate of self-sufficiency of solar panels would only be about 40%, while the addition of complementary lead-acid batteries would result in a considerable increase of energy prices.

Carbon-coated iron catalyst structure could lead to more-active fuel cells

Researchers at the University of Illinois and collaborators have identified the active form of an iron-containing catalyst for reducing oxygen gas, which has two oxygen atoms, so that it can break apart and combine with ionized hydrogen to make water. The finding could help researchers refine better catalysts for more energy- and cost-efficient fuel cells.

Proton diffusion discovery a boost for fuel cell technologies

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have made an important breakthrough that could lead to the design of better fuel cell materials. They demonstrate how they synthesized nanometer-sized cage molecules that can be used to transport charge in proton exchange membrane applications.

Chemists offer enhanced 3-D look inside batteries

A team of chemists at New York University has developed a method to yield highly detailed, 3-D images of the insides of batteries. The technique, based on magnetic resonance imaging, offers an enhanced approach to monitor the condition of these power sources in real time.

New technology puts solar power to work all night long

Current thermal energy storage systems for solar power plants rely on materials of low energy density and thermal conductivity, requiring more material at greater cost. To combat this challenge, researchers designed an inexpensive thermal energy storage system that will be significantly smaller with over 20 times better thermal performance than current systems.


‘Thermal metamaterial’ could bring waste-heat harvesting technology to factories

An international research team has used a “thermal metamaterial” to control the emission of radiation at high temperatures. The thermal metamaterial—nanoscale layers of tungsten and hafnium oxide—was used to suppress the emission of one portion of the spectrum while enhancing emission in another.  

Mars rover views spectacular layered rock formations

The layered geologic past of Mars is revealed in stunning detail in new color images returned by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, which is currently exploring the “Murray Buttes” region of lower Mount Sharp. The new images arguably rival photos taken in U.S. National Parks.

Unraveling the crystal structure of a -70° Celsius superconductor, a world first

A research group has clarified the crystal structure of hydrogen sulfide in its superconducting phase at the high temperature of -70 C. This was achieved by conducting a combination of experiments at one of the world’s largest synchrotron radiation facilities in Japan. These results mark a huge step towards developing room-temperature superconductors.

Iron springs back to shape under pressure

A team of Lawrence Livermore National Lab physicists has performed a series of calculations shedding light on an unexpected way that iron transforms under dynamic compression. The team describes first-principle calculations on two solid phases of iron, as well as on intermediate crystal structures along the transformation path from one phase to the other.

World’s most powerful X-ray takes a ‘sledgehammer’ to molecules

An international team of more than 20 scientists has inadvertently discovered how to create a new type of crystal using light more than ten billion times brighter than the sun. The team exposed a sample of Buckyball crystals to intense light emitted from the world’s first hard X-ray free electron laser and found that the molecules have a spherical shape forming a pattern that resembles panels on a soccer ball.