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Materials scientists at Harvard University and the University of Exeter have invented a new class of polymer fibers that change color when stretched. As is often seen in nature, the color is not the result of pigments, but rather comes from the interference of light within the multilayered fiber. Inspired by Margaritaria nobilis – also known as the Bastard Hogberry – the new fibers may lead to new forms of sensors, and possibly to smart fabrics whose color changes as the fabric is stretched, squeezed, or heated. Read More
A team of engineering researchers at the University of Michigan has developed a nanoscale coating that causes almost all liquids to bounce off surfaces treated with it. Consisting of at least 95 percent air, the new "superomniphobic" coating is claimed to repel the broadest range of liquids of any material in its class, opening up the possibility of super stain-resistant clothing, drag-reducing waterproof paints for ship hulls, breathable garments that provide protection from harmful chemicals, and touchscreens resistant to fingerprint smudges. Read More
A new X-ray microscope at Brookhaven National Laboratory is being used to create unparalleled high-resolution 3D images of the inner structure of materials. Using techniques similar to taking a very small-scale medical CAT (computer-assisted tomography) scan, the full field transmission x-ray microscope (TXM) enables scientists to directly observe structures spanning 25 nanometers - three thousand times smaller than a red blood cell - by splicing together thousands of images into a single 3D X-ray image with "greater speed and precision than ever before." This capability is expected to power rapid advances in many fields, including energy research, environmental sciences, biology, and national defense. Read More
Back in February, Darren Quick wrote about the unique properties of Molybdenite and how this material, previously used mostly as a lubricant, could actually outshine silicon in the construction of transistors and other electronic circuits. In brief: it's much more energy efficient than silicon, and you can slice it into strips just three atoms thick - meaning that you can make transistors as much as three times smaller than before, and make them flexible to boot. Well, the technology has now been proven with the successful testing of the world's first molybdenite microchip in Switzerland. Does this mean Lausanne will become known as "Molybdenite Valley?" Read More
We recently saw the potential for nanoneedles and quantum dots to treat skin cancer, however researchers at the University of Illinois have gone one step further. They have created a nanoneedle (an incredibly small needle) that allows them to peak into the nucleus of a cell. When subjected to an electrical charge, the needle injects quantum dots into the nucleus of a living cell. These quantum dots (nanoscale crystals with unique properties in terms of light emission) can be used to monitor microscopic processes and cellular conditions, aid the diagnosis of disease, and track genetic information from within the nucleus. Read More
Research has already shown that at the nanoscale, chemistry is different and the same is apparently true for light, which Engineers at Stanford University say behaves differently at scales of around a nanometer. By creating solar cells thinner than the wavelengths of light the engineers say it is possible to trap the photons inside the solar cell for longer, increasing the chance they can get absorbed, thereby increasing the efficiency of the solar cell. In this way, they calculate that by properly configuring the thicknesses of several thin layers of films, an organic polymer thin film could absorb as much as 10 times more energy from sunlight than predicted by conventional theory. Read More
Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology have documented a major breakthrough in the production of nanocircuitry on graphene, a material that many envision as the successor of silicon for our electronics needs. Using thermochemical nanolithography (TCNL), the team found that the electrical properties of reduced graphene oxide (rGO) can be easily tuned to reliably produce nanoscale circuits in a single, quick step. Read More
A research team at North Carolina State University has created incredibly small microneedles to be used in the treatment of medical conditions by inserting nanoscale dyes called quantum dots into the skin. This new procedure could advance a doctor’s ability to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions, including skin cancer. Read More
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the bacteria responsible for antibiotic resistant infections, poses a serious problem in hospitals, where patients with open wounds, invasive devices and weakened immune systems are at greater risk of infection than the general public. In a move that could significantly reduce this risk, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have created a nanoscale coating for surgical equipment, hospital walls, and other surfaces which safely eradicates MRSA. Read More
At the nanoscale chemistry is different and nanoparticles don’t behave like normal particles. Nanoparticles tend to be more chemically reactive than ordinary-sized particles of the same material, making it hard to predict how they will act under different conditions and raising serious questions about the use of such particles – particularly inside the human body. Researchers have now developed a method for predicting the ways nanoparticles will interact with biological systems – including the human body – that could improve human and environmental safety in the handling on nanomaterials, and have applications for drug delivery. Read More