Researchers at Penn State University are using sound waves to position nanowires in repeatable patterns for potential use in a variety of sensors, optoelectronics and nanoscale circuits. The researchers looked at the placement of metallic nanowires in solution on a piezoelectric substrate, applying an alternating current to the substrate to create a standing surface acoustic wave in the solution that positions the nanowires nodes in the wave, where they remain. They also used perpendicular currents to form 3D grid patterns.
Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have created movies of the crystallization of phase change materials used for optical and resistive memory. A solid understanding of crystallization kinetics during laser and resistive heating is extremely important, because kinetics directly impact device speed, according to the scientists.
Through-Focus Scanning Optical Microscopy can detect differences as small as 10 nm in the 3D shapes of circuit, according to scientist at the National Insititute of Stnadards and Technology. The method uses a conventional optical microscope, but rather than taking a single image, it collects 2-D images at different focal positions to form a 3-D data space. A computer then extracts brightness profiles from these multiple out-of-focus images and uses the differences between them to construct the TSOM image.
The United States should establish a National Sustainability Policy and take additional steps to encourage federal agencies to collaborate on sustainability challenges that demand the expertise of many agencies, such as improving disaster resilience and managing ecosystems, says a new report from the National Research Council. Currently, the government is generally not organized to deal with the complex, long-term nature of sustainability challenges, the report says. Statutes and government culture encourage agencies to focus on a single area — energy, water, or health, for example — with little attention to how areas affect one another. The report offers a decision-making framework that can be applied to sustainability-related projects and programs. Given the inherent complexities and uncertainties of many sustainability issues, strategies may need to be altered based on emerging results; the framework builds in an “adaptive management” approach that allows for these adjustments. Although the framework can be applied to many sustainability challenges, the committee identified four challenges of national importance: connections among energy, food and water, diverse and healthy ecosystems, resilience of communities to natural disasters and other extreme events, and human health and well-being.
Nanomaterials and nanotechnology are key to innovation in industries from pharmaceuticals to consumer electronics, a point made clear by the White House’s Materials Genome Initiative. To help meet the growing demand for workers who can keep pace with these emerging technologies, North Carolina State University is launching a master’s degree program in nanoengineering. The degree program begins this fall and will hold classes on campus, but will also be the first master’s degree program in nanoengineering that is offered via online distance education – making the program available to students who are already in the workforce. The program will also offer concentrations in biomedical science in nanoengineering, materials science in nanoengineering, and nanoelectronics and nanophotonics.
(MIT Technology Review) Wind and solar power keep getting cheaper, and that is encouraging their adoption even as government subsidies falter, a new report from the International Energy Agency concludes. In just a few years, more power will come from renewables than from natural gas, the report said. However, while renewable energy use is growing, so is the use of coal, which means that so far, carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise. Coal is attractive because it is cheap, and because it produces electricity on demand—it is not subject to the time of day or the weather. The US Energy Information Adminstration has a helpful chart showing the relative costs of various electricity generating technologies, including wind, solar, nuclear, coal and natural gas.