[Image above] Credit: NIST
Researchers have brought electrides into the nanoregime by synthesizing the first 2-D electride material. In their study, the researchers showed that the defining features of electrides—in particular, the electron gas and its properties—are preserved when a layered electride called dicalcium nitride (Ca2N) is synthesized in 2-D, single-layer form.
Peering for the first time into the workings of tiny chemical catalysts, scientists observed that the ‘defective’ structure on their edges enhances their reactivity and effectiveness. This finding that could lead to the design of improved catalysts that make industrial chemical processes greener, by decreasing the amount of energy needed for chemical reactions, and preventing the formation of unwanted and potentially hazardous products.
Carbon nanotubes have made headlines in scientific journals for a long time, as has 3-D printing. But when both combine with the right polymer, in this case a thermoplastic, something special occurs: electrical conductivity increases and makes it possible to monitor liquids in real time.
Researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University demonstrate for the first time that charge transfer between 2-D layers of MoS2 and an organic semiconductor occurs at an ultra-fast timescale, on the order of less than 100 femtoseconds, or one tenth of one millionth of one millionth of a second.
Bioengineers at The University of Nottingham are trialing how to use shrimp shells to make biodegradable shopping bags, as a ‘green’ alternative to oil-based plastic, and as a new food packaging material to extend product shelf life. The new material for these affordable ‘eco-friendly’ bags is being optimized for Egyptian conditions, as effective waste management is one of the country’s biggest challenges.
Nanomaterials, both natural and manmade, are literally everywhere, from our personal care products to our building materials—we’re even eating and drinking them. At the Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology, headquartered at Duke University, scientists and engineers are researching how nanoscale materials affect living things.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have directly shown that electrons generated when light strikes a well-oriented perovskite film are unrestricted by grain boundaries and travel long distances without deteriorating. Identification of this property, which is key to efficiently convert sunlight into electricity, could lead to more efficient solar panels.
Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Lab developed a method that boosts the longevity of high-efficiency photocathodes in photoelectrochemical water-splitting devices. NREL researchers determined that greater photocathode stability and high catalytic activity can be achieved by depositing and annealing a bilayer of amorphous titanium dioxide and molybdenum sulfide onto GaInP2.
NREL research could make racing fans take notice. Researchers have created a catalyst that converts biomass into a hydrocarbon mixture rich in 2,2,3-trimethylbutane, also known as triptane. Triptane is added to gasoline to reduce engine knocking, to boost the octane rating, and to increase the motor’s efficiency. The biofuel NREL developed is 85% triptane.
It’s a materials scientist’s dream, but as some experts say, an engineer’s nightmare. For scientists and engineers at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing, can be a powerful tool for rapid innovation.
MIT chemists have now developed a technique that allows them to print objects and then go back and add new polymers that alter the materials’ chemical composition and mechanical properties. The researchers can also fuse two or more printed objects together to form more complex structures.
A team of scientists from the National University of Singapore has successfully developed conducting polymer films that can provide unprecedented ohmic contacts to give superior performance in plastic electronics, including organic LEDs, solar cells, and transistors. The key is to be able to design polymer films with the desired extreme work functions needed to generally make ohmic contacts.
University of New South Wales biomedical engineers have woven a ‘smart’ fabric that mimics the properties of one of nature’s ingenious materials, the bone tissue periosteum. The team mapped the complex tissue architectures of the periosteum, visualized them in 3-D on a computer, scaled up the key components, and produced prototypes using weaving loom technology.
Northwestern University engineers have employed a creative way to identify the geometry and material properties of the fibers that comprise a beetle’s exoskeleton. This work could ultimately uncover information that could guide the design and manufacturing of new and improved artificial materials through bio-mimicry.
A team of University of Illinois researchers has recently advanced gallium nitride (GaN)-on-silicon transistor technology by optimizing the composition of the semiconductor layers that make up the device. The team created the high electron mobility transistor structure on a 200 mm silicon substrate with a process that will scale to larger industry-standard wafer sizes.
All ferroelectric materials possess a property known as piezoelectricity in which an applied mechanical force can generate an electrical current and an applied electrical field can elicit a mechanical response. Now, an international team of scientists led by Penn State may have solved the 30-year-old riddle of why certain ferroelectric crystals exhibit extremely strong piezoelectric responses.
Chemical reactions that release oxygen in the presence of a catalyst are a crucial part of chemical energy storage processes. The kinetics of this type of reaction are generally slow, but compounds called metal oxides can have catalytic activities that vary over several orders of magnitude. Now, a team at MIT has shown that in some of these catalysts oxygen doesn’t come only from the water molecules surrounding the catalyst material; some of it comes from within the crystal lattice of the catalyst material itself.
In a proof-of-concept study, researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology drew magnetic squares in a nonmagnetic material with an electrified pen and then “read” this magnetic doodle with X-rays. The experiment demonstrated that magnetic properties can be created and annihilated in a nonmagnetic material with precise application of an electric field.