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[Image above] Credit: NIST


No assembly required: Nanoparticles that put themselves together

To expand nanoparticles’ potential applications, the DOE’s Office of Science is supporting research to harness self-assembly. Because nanoparticles of metals or semiconductors won’t self-assemble in the same ways as living systems do, scientists are examining their differences and similarities.

Studying argon gas trapped in 2-D array of tiny ‘cages’

For the first time, scientists have trapped a noble gas in a 2-D porous structure at room temperature. This achievement will enable detailed studies of individual gas atoms in confinement—research that could inform the design of new materials for gas separation and nuclear waste remediation.

New transistor concept uses metal nanoparticles

Researchers have succeeded in producing transistors based on a completely different principle. They use metal nanoparticles which are so small that they no longer show their metallic character under current flow but exhibit an energy gap caused by the Coulomb repulsion of the electrons among one another.

First experimental observation of new type of entanglement in a 2-D quantum material

Scientists have shown experimentally, for the first time, a quantum phase transition in strontium copper borate, the only material to date that realizes a famous quantum many-body model.

Bubble technique used to measure sheer forces between graphene sheets

A team of researchers from China and the U.S. has devised a relatively simple means for measuring the shear forces that exist between sheets of graphene and other materials. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the group describes the technique and the results they found when using it to measure shear forces for several types of 2-D materials.

Reduced oxygen nanocrystalline materials show improved performance

Researchers at the University of Connecticut have found that reducing oxygen in some nanocrystalline materials may improve their strength and durability at elevated temperatures, a promising enhancement that could lead to better biosensors, faster jet engines, and greater capacity semiconductors.


Non-toxic alternative for next-generation solar cells

A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge and the United States have used theoretical and experimental methods to show that solar cells incorporating bismuth can replicate the properties that enable the exceptional properties of lead-based solar cells, but without the same toxicity concerns.

Rooftop concentrating photovoltaics win big over silicon in outdoor testing

A concentrating photovoltaic system with embedded microtracking can produce over 50% more energy per day than standard silicon solar cells in a head-to-head competition, according to a team of engineers who field tested a prototype unit over two sunny days last fall.

Fast, cheap method to make supercapacitor electrodes for electric cars, high-powered lasers

A team of engineers at the University of Washington thinks they’ve come up with a process for manufacturing supercapacitor electrode materials that will meet stringent industrial and usage demands. Their novel method starts with carbon-rich materials that have been dried into a low-density matrix called an aerogel.

New hydrocarbon fuel cells with high efficiency and low cost

Researchers at UNIST, Sookmyoung Women’s University, University of Seoul, and Wonkwang University have developed electrode materials that maintain long-term stability in hydrocarbon fuels. Their results have emerged as the promising candidate for the next generation direct hydrocarbon solid oxide fuel cell technology.

Automation, additive technologies for cost efficient solar power

Inspired by newspaper printing, and taking cues from additive manufacturing technology, researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory are exploring new ways to make solar cells more cost efficient—increasing application potential in the process.


Mica provides clue to how water transports minerals

In a new study from Argonne National Laboratory, in collaboration with the University of Illinois and Chicago and the University of Delaware, chemists have been able to look at the interface between water and muscovite mica. In particular, the researchers looked at the capture and release of rubidium.

Key to speeding up carbon sequestration discovered

Scientists at Caltech and USC have discovered a way to speed up the slow part of the chemical reaction that ultimately helps Earth to safely lock away, or sequester, carbon dioxide into the ocean. Simply adding a common enzyme to the mix, the researchers have found, can make that rate-limiting part of the process go 500 times faster.

Researchers test 3-D-printed water quality sensor

Researchers at UBC’s Okanagan campus have designed a tiny device—built using a 3D printer—that can monitor drinking water quality in real time and help protect against waterborne illness. The miniaturized water quality sensors are cheap to make, can operate continuously, and can be deployed anywhere in the water distribution system.


Antibiotic-releasing polymer may help eradicate joint implant infection
A team of Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has developed an antibiotic-releasing polymer that may greatly simplify the treatment of prosthetic joint infection. The researchers describe how implants made from this material successfully eliminated two types of prosthetic infection in animal models.

Material from shellfish delivers a boost to bioassays and medical tests

Scientists at the University of Washington have discovered a simple way to raise the accuracy of diagnostic tests for medicine and common assays for laboratory research. By adding polydopamine—a material that was first isolated from shellfish—to these tests at a key step, the team could increase the sensitivity of these common bioassays by as many as 100 to 1,000 times.

Breathable, wearable electronics on skin for long-term health monitoring

A hypoallergenic electronic sensor can be worn on the skin continuously for a week without discomfort, and is so light and thin that users forget they even have it on, say scientists. The elastic electrode constructed of breathable nanoscale meshes holds promise for the development of noninvasive e-skin devices.

Personalized wearable sensor measures body temperature

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a 3-D printed sensor worn on the ear that monitors core body temperature. The researchers created the sensor by integrating data processing circuits, a wireless module and an infrared sensor to measure core body temperature via the ear in the 3-D printed device.


Researchers develop a novel type of optical fiber that preserves the properties of light

Scientists have developed a new type of optical fiber that has an extremely large core diameter and preserves the coherent properties of light. The results of the study are promising for constructing high-power pulsed fiber lasers and amplifiers, as well as polarization-sensitive sensors.

Lighting up the study of low-density materials

Sandia National Laboratories studies myriads of low-density materials, from laminate layers in airplane wings to foams and epoxies that cushion parts. So Sandia borrowed and refined a technique being studied by the medical field, X-ray phase contrast imaging, to look inside the softer side of things without taking them apart.

Precision work: Defect-free coatings for silicon spheres

International efforts are striving to redefine the base unit for measuring mass and. For this purpose, the Avogadro experiment determines the number of atoms in almost perfect silicon spheres. Fraunhofer researchers have recently succeeded in homogeneously coating the spherical surfaces—the measurement uncertainty can be limited to a range below 10 micrograms.

Silk ‘micrococoons’ could be used in biotechnology and medicine

Researchers have manufactured microscopic versions of the cocoons spun by silkworms, which could be used to store sensitive proteins and other molecules for a wide range of uses. The tiny capsules, which are invisible to the naked eye, can protect sensitive molecular materials.

Holograms taken to new dimension

A University of Utah team has discovered a way to create inexpensive full-color 2-D and 3-D holograms that are far more realistic, brighter, and can be viewed at wider angles than current holograms. The applications for this technology could be wide-ranging, from currency and identification badges to amusement rides and advertisements.