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[Image above] Credit: NIST


Metal oxide nanosensors on the alert for terrorist threats

Scientists from the Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology have demonstrated that sensors based on binary metal oxide nanocomposites are sensitive enough to identify terrorist threats and detect environmental pollutants.

Researchers nearly reach quantum limit with nanodrums

Researchers at Aalto University and the University of Jyväskylä have developed a new method of measuring microwave signals extremely accurately. This method can be used for processing quantum information, for example, by efficiently transforming signals from microwave circuits to the optical regime.

Tiny graphene radios may lead to Internet of Nano-Things

For wireless communication, we’re all stuck on the same traffic-clogged highway—it’s a section of the electromagnetic spectrum known as radio waves. Advancements have made the highway more efficient, but bandwidth issues persist as wireless devices proliferate and the demand for data grows. The solution may be a nearby, mostly untapped area of the electromagnetic spectrum known as the terahertz band.


Spacecraft ‘nuclear batteries’ could get a boost from new materials

A cutting-edge development in spacecraft power systems is a class of materials with an unfamiliar name: skutterudites. Researchers are studying the use of these advanced materials in a proposed next-generation power system called an eMMRTG, which stands for Enhanced Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator.

Tiny crystals and nanowires could join forces to split water

Scientists are pursuing a tiny solution for harnessing one of the world’s most abundant sources of clean energy: water. By marrying teeny crystals called quantum dots to miniature wires, the researchers are developing new materials that show promise for splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen fuel, which could be used to power cars, buses, boats and other modes of transportation.

Stanford engineers set record for capturing and storing solar energy in hydrogen fuel

Solar energy has the potential to provide abundant power, but only if scientists solve two key issues: storing the energy for use at all hours, particularly at night, and making the technology more cost effective. Now an interdisciplinary team at Stanford has made significant strides toward solving the storage issue, demonstrating the most efficient means yet of storing electricity captured from sunlight in the form of chemical bonds.

Flexible solar panel goes where silicon can’t

A team of Virginia Tech engineers and chemists is producing flexible solar panels that can become part of window shades or wallpaper that will capture light from the sun as well as light from sources inside buildings. Solar modules less than half-a-millimeter thick are being created through a screen-printing process using low-temperature titanium oxide paste as part of a five-layer structure that creates thin, flexible panels similar to tiles in one’s bathroom.


Enabling direct carbon capture

Researchers at KAUST are developing porous solids called metal-organic frameworks for the selective removal of various gases from gas mixtures. Their latest breakthrough material can effectively take up carbon dioxide even when it is present at concentrations as low as 400 parts per million and opens possibilities for capturing CO2 as it is generated.

Fuel from sewage is the future—and it’s closer than you think

It may sound like science fiction, but wastewater treatment plants may one day turn ordinary sewage into biocrude oil, thanks to new research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The technology, hydrothermal liquefaction, mimics the geological conditions Earth uses to create crude oil, using high pressure and temperature to achieve in minutes something that takes Mother Nature millions of years.


3-D printing speeds up target production for testing material strength

Advanced 3-D printing promises to redefine manufacturing in critical industries such as aerospace, transportation and defense, and now, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is exploring the use of 3-D printing to achieve unprecedented flexibility in producing “on-demand” targets for testing how materials behave under extreme conditions.

Scientists trigger superconductivity in non-superconductive materials

In the 1970s, physicists proposed a theory that superconductivity could be induced at the point where two different non-superconductive materials are enjoined, the interface. Several decades later, scientists have for the first time successfully demonstrated the concept. The breakthrough promises to propel the commercial viability of superconductors.

Study details newly discovered mineral merelaniite

A team led by a physicist from Michigan Technological University has discovered a new mineral, named for the region in Tanzania where it comes from. Detailed chemical and physical analyses of merelaniite—a member of the cylindrite group—revealed a neatly stacked layered structure with sheets rolled in scrolls like tobacco in a cigar.

New tech uses electricity to track water, ID potential problems in concrete

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of Eastern Finland have developed a new technique for tracking water in concrete structures—allowing engineers to identify potential issues before they become big problems.

Creating a slippery slope on the surface of medical implants

A team of scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University has created self-healing slippery surface coatings with medical-grade teflon materials and liquids that prevent biofilm formation on medical implants while preserving normal innate immune responses against pathogenic bacteria.

Engineers develop new magnetic ink to print self-healing devices that heal in record time

A team of engineers at the University of California San Diego has developed a magnetic ink that can be used to make self-healing batteries, electrochemical sensors and wearable, textile-based electrical circuits. The key ingredient for the ink is microparticles oriented in a certain configuration by a magnetic field.

Ultra-fast 2-D and 3-D printing: Major advance in field of high-speed beam-scanning devices

A major technological advance in the field of high-speed beam-scanning devices has increased the speed of 2D and 3D printing by up to 1000 times, according to researchers in Penn State’s College of Engineering. Using a space-charge-controlled KTN beam deflector—a kind of crystal made of potassium tantalate and potassium niobate—with a large electro-optic effect, researchers have found that scanning at a much higher speed is possible.

Trace metal recombination centers kill LED efficiency

Using cutting-edge first-principles calculations, researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have demonstrated the mechanism by which transition metal impurities—iron in particular—can act as nonradiative recombination centers in nitride semiconductors. The work highlights that such impurities can have a detrimental impact on the efficiency of LEDs based on gallium nitride or indium gallium nitride.