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Published on September 28th, 2016 | By: April Gocha, PhD


Other materials stories that may be of interest

Published on September 28th, 2016 | By: April Gocha, PhD

[Image above] Credit: NIST




Uniform ‘hairy’ nanorods have potential energy, biomedical applications

Georgia Institute of Technology materials scientists have developed a new strategy for crafting one-dimensional nanorods from a wide range of precursor materials. Based on a cellulose backbone, the system relies on the growth of block copolymer “arms” that help create a compartment to serve as a nanometer-scale chemical reactor.


Similar nanomaterials behave differently: Why?

Nanotubes with similar structures can actually exhibit different properties, with important consequences in their applications. Carbon nanotubes and boron nitride nanotubes, for example, can be different when it comes to friction. A new study has created computer models of these crystals and studied their characteristics in detail and observed differences related to the material’s chirality.


Diamond proves useful material for growing graphene

A team led by Argonne National Lab’s Center for Nanoscale Materials and Materials Science Division has developed a method to grow graphene that contains relatively few impurities and costs less to make, in a shorter time and at lower temperatures compared to the processes widely used to make graphene today.


Sharpshooting nanoparticles hit the target

A*STAR researchers say multi stimuli-responsive nanocapsules can selectively deliver drugs to exactly where they are needed. The researchers created multifunctional nanocapsules by wrapping magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles inside a biocompatible polymer coat that could be tuned to respond to acidity or temperature.





Marriage made in sunlight: Invention merges solar with liquid battery

 As solar cells produce a greater proportion of total electric power, a fundamental limitation remains: the dark of night when solar cells go to sleep. Lithium-ion batteries are too expensive a solution to use on something as massive as the electric grid. A professor of chemistry has a better idea: integrating the solar cell with a large-capacity battery.


New anode material set to boost lithium-ion battery capacity

A team of researchers affiliated with Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea claims to have made yet another step towards finding a solution to accelerate the commercialization of silicon anode for lithium-ion batteries. The team demonstrated the feasibility of a next-generation hybrid anode using silicon-nanolayer-embedded graphite/carbon.


Making catalysts smarter

The industrial catalysts of the future won’t just speed up reactions, they’ll control how chemical processes work and determine how much of a particular product is made. A new approach dynamically tunes how a catalyst operates, enabling researchers to control and optimize the product made in the reaction.


Food waste could store solar, wind energy

Saving up excess solar and wind energy for times when the sun is down or the air is still requires a storage device. Although batteries get the most attention, now researchers are advancing another potential approach using sugar alcohols—an abundant waste product of the food industry—mixed with carbon nanotubes.





Digital photography: The future of small-scale manufacturing?

What if it were possible to quickly and inexpensively manufacture a part simply by using a series of close-range digital images taken of the object? A method called photogrammetry has now been identified for its application in manufacturing. In this technique, digital images of an object that have been taken at various angles are used to create a point cloud from which a CAD file can be generated.


Research explores thermoelectric screen printing

Boise State University scientists fabricated high-performance and low-cost flexible thermoelectric films and devices by an innovative screen-printing process that allows for direct conversion of nanocrystals into flexible thermoelectric devices. The precise control of the starting nanocrystals’ shape and surface chemistry and the optimization of the nano-ink and screen-printing process are the key factors giving rise to unprecedented performances in the printed thermoelectric materials.





Cleaning concrete contaminated with chemicals

Scientists are looking for better ways to clean contaminated concrete to reduce the impact of a U.S. transportation hub being contaminated with a chemical agent. The project, funded by Sandia National Lab, uses computer simulations to examine how chemical agents soak into and bind within concrete. The power of the simulations is that researchers can glimpse details they can’t obtain experimentally.


Tuning materials and devices to adapt to their environment

Researchers at University of California, Santa Barbara, who began exploring thin-film tunable dielectrics using sputtered material nearly two decades ago, are now trying to leverage advanced and scalable materials deposition techniques like molecular beam epitaxy to create tunable, high-frequency integrated circuits and devices with high-quality materials that are comparable to modern semiconductor technology.





New multiferroic material is a big step in march toward ultra-low power electronics

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Cornell University scientists have successfully paired ferroelectric and ferrimagnetic materials so that their alignment can be controlled with a small electric field at near room temperatures, an achievement that could open doors to ultra low-power microprocessors, storage devices and next-generation electronics.


Artificial intelligence helps in the discovery of new materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials.


Deep insight into interfaces

Interfaces between different materials and their properties are of key importance for modern technology. Together with an international team, physicists of Würzburg University have developed a new method, which allows them to have an extremely precise glance at these interfaces and to model their properties.


World’s largest database of crystal surfaces and shapes

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego have created the world’s largest database of elemental crystal surfaces and shapes to date. Dubbed Crystalium, this new open-source database can help researchers design new materials for technologies in which surfaces and interfaces play an important role, such as fuel cells, catalytic converters in cars, computer microchips, nanomaterials and solid-state batteries.


Affordable perovskite detectors for gamma radiation

A research team at Empa and ETH Zurich has developed single crystals made of lead halide perovskites, which are able to gage radioactive radiation with high precision. Initial experiments have shown that these crystals, which can be manufactured from aqueous solutions or low-priced solvents, work just as well as conventional cadmium telluride semi-conductors, which are considerably more complicated to produce.


New knowledge about piezoelectric materials for ultrasound and other applications

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Lab and their research partners have used neutron scattering to discover the key to piezoelectric excellence in the newer materials, which are called relaxor-based ferroelectrics. Their findings may provide knowledge needed to accelerate the design of functional materials for diverse applications. 


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