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[Image above] Credit: NIST


New nanotechnology to produce sustainable, clean water for developing nations

More than three quarters of a billion people lack access to clean drinking water and 85% live in the driest areas of the planet. Those statistics are inspiring chemists at Stony Brook University, who are hard at work designing nanometer-scale water filters that could soon make clean drinking water available and affordable for even the poorest of the poor.

Electrons in graphene behave like light, only better

Electrical and computer engineers have directly observed—for the first time—negative refraction for electrons passing across a boundary between two regions in a conducting material. The researchers were able to observe the effect in graphene, demonstrating that electrons in the atomically thin material behave like light rays.

Efficient low-cost method for hydrogenation of graphene with visible light

Researchers at Uppsala University and AstraZeneca Gothenburg, Sweden, have developed an environmentally friendly, efficient, and low-cost method for hydrogenation of graphene with visible light. The study shows that graphene reacts with formic acid in a water solution upon irradiation with visible light to form hydrogenated graphene.


Water vapor sets some oxides aflutter

A team of Brookhaven National Lab scientists has discovered a phenomenon that when one type of an oxide structure called perovskite is exposed to both water vapor and streams of electrons, it exhibits behavior that researchers had never anticipated: The material gives off oxygen and begins oscillating, almost resembling a living, breathing organism.

Catalyst structure identified in an operating proton exchange membrane fuel cell

Researchers at the University of Amsterdam have revealed the structure of the palladium catalyst for hydrogen oxidation in proton exchange membrane fuel cells. Contrary to current views the results, obtained by applying X-ray spectroscopy under operating conditions, indicate the existence of a hydride phase throughout the operating range.

Advance in low-cost clean energy generation

Researchers at the University of Houston and MIT have reported a substantial advance in generating electricity through a combination of concentrating solar power and thermoelectric materials. By combining concentrating solar power with segmented thermoelectric legs, made up of two different thermoelectric materials, each working at different temperature ranges, researchers say they have demonstrated a promising new alternative solar energy technology.

New advances in solar cell technology

With the high environmental cost of conventional energy sources, the importance of renewable energy sources has become much more apparent in recent years. New research has focused on using organo-metal halide perovskite films in solar cells. These perovskite films are highly crystalline materials that can be formed by a large number of different chemical combinations and can be deposited at low cost.

Non-toxic solvent removes barrier to commercialization of perovskite solar cells

University of Oxford scientists have developed a solvent system with reduced toxicity that can be used in the manufacture of perovskite solar cells, clearing one of the barriers to the commercialization of a technology that promises to revolutionize the solar industry.

Organic semiconducting polymers can harvest sunlight to split CO2 into alcohol fuels

Chemists at The University of Texas at Arlington have been the first to demonstrate that an organic semiconductor polymer called polyaniline is a promising photocathode material for the conversion of carbon dioxide into alcohol fuels without the need for a co-catalyst.


Color-changing smart material sensor to alert user to get out of sun

Researchers at the University of Southern California have developed a color-changing wearable that can notify users of their total sun exposure, allowing them to achieve a balance. A user wears the 0.5″ by 0.5″ millimeter sized flexible patch and is notified of total UV exposure by the change in color. When the sensor turns orange, the user has reached the recommended daily dose of vitamin D.

Researchers invent glucose-sensing contact lens

Blood testing is the standard option for checking glucose levels, but a new technology could allow non-invasive testing via a contact lens that samples glucose levels in tears. The tiny device, built from multiple layers of gold nanowires stacked on top of a gold film and produced using solvent-assisted nanotransfer printing, optimized the use of surface-enhanced Raman scattering to take advantage of the technique’s ability to detect small molecular samples.

Silicon fluorescent material enables observations under ‘biological optical window’

National Institute for Materials Science scientists have developed a silicon fluorescent material that is very low in toxicity and high in luminescence efficiency, compared to conventional materials. Under near-infrared radiation at wavelengths of 650–1,000 nm—the range known as the “biological optical window”—that is capable of passing through living systems, the group succeeded in bioimaging using this new material.

Exoskeleton technology gets disabled people back on their feet

Researchers at EPFL’s Robotic Systems Laboratory have developed an exoskeleton called TWIICE. This is a walking assist device that will be used at the 2016 Cybathlon—the first competition for disabled athletes who use various assistive technologies—which will take place on October 8 in Zurich.


Technique mass-produces uniform, encapsulated particles for pharmaceuticals, more

Researchers from MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories report a new microencapsulation technique that yields particles of very consistent size, while also affording a high rate of production. Moreover, the devices used to produce the spheres were themselves manufactured with an affordable commercial 3-D printer.

Why diamond nanothread could prove priceless for manufacturing

A Queensland University of Technology scientist is leading a global effort to work out how many ways humanity can use a newly-invented material with enormous potential—diamond nanothread. Simulations show that kinks of hydrogen in the carbon’s hollow structure act like hinges, connecting straight sections of diamond nanothread. Changing the spacing of those defects can tune the flexibility of diamond nanothread.

3-D-printed robots with shock-absorbing skins

Researchers at MIT present a new method for 3-D printing soft materials that make robots safer and more precise in their movements—and that could be used to improve the durability of drones, phones, shoes, helmets, and more. The team’s “programmable viscoelastic material” technique allows users to program every single part of a 3D-printed object to the exact levels of stiffness and elasticity they want, depending on the task they need for it.


New multiferroic materials from building blocks

A research group at the National Institute for Materials Science has developed room temperature multiferroic materials by a layer-by-layer assembly of nanosheet building blocks. Multiferroic materials are expected to play a vital role in the development of next-generation multifunctional electronic devices.

Stanford researchers bring theorized mechanism of conduction to life

Stanford physicists may have developed materials that enable the theorized oscillations of Bloch’s theory. The researchers created a 2-D superlattice by sandwiching a sheet of atomically thin graphene in between two sheets of electrically insulating boron nitride. The atoms in the graphene and boron nitride have slightly different spacing, so when they are stacked on top of each other they create a special wave interference pattern called a moiré pattern.

‘Incomprehensible’ birth of supercrystal explained

Two years ago, an Utrecht University research team created a material with unique electronic characteristics. In this ‘supercrystal’, the electrons move almost with the speed of photons, and the electric current can be switched on and off. But at the time, the researchers were at a loss to explain how this ‘supercrystal’ obtained its unique structure. Now they have unraveled the mystery, and it appears to involve a completely different mechanism for crystal formation.

Correlated magnets made out of single atoms

A team of scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have observed the emergence of antiferromagnetic order over a correlation length of several lattice sites in a chain of fermionic atoms. Contrary to the ferromagnetism we experience in everyday life, these antiferromagnets are characterized by an alternating alignment of the elementary magnetic moment associated with each electron or atom.

Survival of the fittest in materials discovery

Research led by the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center has paved the way for the development of dynamically-evolving polymers that form spontaneously by adapting to their environment, which may lead to a number of product possibilities including drug delivery, food science and cosmetics.

New technology using radar can identify materials and objects in real time

A revolutionary piece of technology, created by researchers at the University of St. Andrews, can detect what an object is by placing it on a small radar sensor. The device, called RadarCat (Radar Categorisation for Input and Interaction), can be trained to recognize different objects and materials and can even identify individual body parts.