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Researchers at at Drexel University have developed a metallic nanocoating derived from a virus of the tobacco plant that could lead to more efficient steam production, improving the performance of steam turbines, air conditioning and electronics cooling systems. Read More
In 1905, Albert Einstein provided an explanation of the photoelectric effect – that various metals emit electrons when light is shined on them – by suggesting that a beam of light is not simply a wave of electromagnetic radiation, but is also made up of discrete packets of energy called photons. Though a long accepted tenet in physics, no experiment has ever directly observed this wave/particle duality. Now, however, researchers at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland claim to have captured an image of this phenomenon for the first time ever. Read More
Scientists working at the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES) claim to have created a molecule-sized electronic component just a few nanometers long that conducts electricity in only the one direction. In essence, a rectifier diode, but one so small that it may one day help replace much bulkier diodes and other semiconductors found on today's integrated circuits to produce incredibly compact, super-fast electronic devices. Read More
Allowing consumers to identify counterfeit goods is a tricky and expensive problem, as many security measures such as holograms might be easily mimicked by counterfeiters. A new nanoscale printing technique, however, allows researchers to create labels that reveal a "watermarked" image when breathed upon by the consumer. The labels are scalable and durable, and can be applied to many surfaces, yet are beyond the hands of those who might try to mimic them to fool consumers. Read More
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology are developing a disruptive manufacturing process that combines nanoscale effects and ad-hoc architectural design to build new supermaterials from the ground up. The materials can be designed to meet predetermined criteria such as weighing only a tiny fraction of their macroscopic counterpart, displaying extreme plasticity, or featuring outstanding mechanical strength. Read More
I've been waiting for some time now to write a headline along the lines of "scientists discover thing that graphene is not amazing at" ... and here it is. Everybody’s favorite nanomaterial may have a plethora of near-magical properties, but as it turns out, it could also be bad for the environment – and bad for you, too. Read More
In 2010, Stanford University researchers reported harnessing energy directly from chloroplasts, the cellular "power plants" within plants where photosynthesis takes place. Now, by embedding different types of carbon nanotubes into these chloroplasts, a team at MIT has boosted plants' ability to capture light energy. As well as opening up the possibility of creating "bionic plants" with enhanced energy production, the same approach could be used to create plants with environmental monitoring capabilities. Read More
It’s not a new idea to improve upon traditional solar cells by first converting light into heat, then reemitting the energy at specific wavelengths optimally tuned to the requirements of the solar cell, but this method has suffered from low efficiencies. However, new research at MIT using nanoscale materials finally shows how thermophotovoltaics could become competitive with their traditional cousins, and grant benefits such as storing solar energy in the form of heat to postpone conversion into electricity. Read More
Researchers at the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) have developed a generalized method of blending two different types of nanoparticles into a single large-scale composite material using synthetic DNA strands. The technique has great potential for designing a vast range of new nanomaterials with precise electrical, mechanical or magnetic properties. Read More
Inspired by the tough teeth of a marine snail and the remarkable process by which they form, assistant professor David Kisailus at the University of California, Riverside is working toward building cheaper, more efficient nanomaterials. By achieving greater control over the low-temperature growth of nanocrystals, his research could improve the performance of solar cells and lithium-ion batteries, lead to higher-performance materials for car and airplane frames, and help develop abrasion-resistant materials that could be used for anything from specialized clothing to dental drills. Read More