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Nanotechnology

A new study suggests that exposure to titanium oxide nanoparticles causes rainbow trout to...

In just the past few years, nanotechnology has brought technological advances in almost every field imaginable – patches that regenerate heart tissue, water-powered batteries and better biofuels are just a few examples. As with just about any new technology, however, concerns have been raised regarding its safety. We’ve never experienced anything quite like it before, so how far should we trust it? According to a recent study conducted at the University of Plymouth, the answer to that question might be “Not very far.” In tests on rainbow trout, titanium oxide nanoparticles were found to cause damage to the brain and other parts of the central nervous system.  Read More

A simulation of a magnetic nanocontact shows how it causes spin waves to spread like rings...

The microwave technology used in applications such as mobile phones and wireless networks may be on its way to being replaced - with parts that are smaller, less expensive, and that consume less resources. Instead of microwaves, devices of the future may use spin waves, which are nanoscale magnetic waves. For almost ten years, it has been theorized that spin waves could be propagated using magnetic nanocontacts. Recently, scientists from the University of Gothenburg and the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, became the first people to demonstrate that the theory meshes with observable phenomena.  Read More

The molecular motor (yellow dot with black arms) sits on a copper surface (orange) and is ...

Remember back in the old days, when nano-scale motors were a clunky 500 nanometers across? That record was subsequently broken with a 200-nanometer model, but has now been broken again, by a motor that’s just one nanometer wide. By comparison, the width of a human hair is about 60,000 nanometers. The new motor, created by scientists at Tufts University in Massachusetts, is reportedly the first one ever to consist of a single molecule.  Read More

Carbon nanotube-reinforced polyurethane could make for lighter and more durable wind turbi...

In the effort to capture more energy from the wind, the blades of wind turbines have become bigger and bigger to the point where the diameter of the rotors can be over 100 m (328 ft). Although larger blades cover a larger area, they are also heavier, which means more wind is needed to turn the rotor. The ideal combination would be blades that are not only bigger, but also lighter and more durable. A researcher at Case Western Reserve University has built a prototype blade from materials that could provide just such a winning combination.  Read More

A method developed at Rice University allows bundles of vertically aligned single-wall car...

Capacitors are able to charge and discharge more quickly than batteries, and can do so hundreds of thousands of times. Batteries, on the other hand, are able to store more energy than capacitors. There are also electric double-layer capacitors (EDLCs), otherwise known as supercapacitors, that can hold battery-like amounts of energy while retaining the charge/discharge speed of regular capacitors. EDLCs incorporate liquid or gel-like electrolytes, however, which can break down under hot or cold conditions. Now, a new solid-state supercapacitor developed at Houston’s Rice University is using nanotechnology to get around that limitation.  Read More

Using a temperature-responsive micromold, MIT engineers created two-layer gel microparticl...

Whether you want to deliver medication to specific cells or create scaffolds for building artificial tissues, currently one of the best media for doing so are polymer microparticles filled with drugs or cells. Traditionally, it has only been possible to make such particles in a few shapes, out of a few materials, and/or with only one layer of “cargo” inside. A new technique developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), however, could see multilayered microparticles being made in many shapes, from a wider variety of materials.  Read More

Researchers have boosted the efficiency of organic solar cells by 20 percent through the u...

Carbon-based organic photovoltaic cells, which use organic polymers or small molecules as semiconductors, are significantly thinner and cheaper than their inorganic silicon-based counterparts. Unfortunately, they are also much less efficient at converting sunlight into electricity. That could be on its way to changing, however, as an international team of researchers have reportedly boosted the efficiency of organic photovoltaic cells by 20 percent ... with some help from gold nanoparticles.  Read More

The W-Ink 3D-nanostructured chip is able to instantly identify liquids(Image: Ian Burgess)

If you want to know exactly what a substance is, your best bet is to use something like a gas chromatographer. The problem is, such machines tend to be large, lab-based and expensive – not the greatest for use in the field, or by people who aren’t connected with a research institute. Researchers from Harvard University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, however, have created inexpensive, portable 3D-nanostructured chips, that can instantly identify any liquid via its surface tension.  Read More

Scientists have grafted olfactory receptors onto carbon nanotubes, in a step towards produ...

While people may have laughed at the mechanical-nose-bearing Odoradar device that Elmer Fudd once used to track Bugs Bunny, the development of real devices that can "smell" recently took a step forward, as researchers from the University of Pennsylvania grafted olfactory receptor proteins onto carbon nanotubes. These proteins are ordinarily located on the outer membrane of cells within the nose. When chemicals that enter the nose bind with the proteins, a cellular response is triggered, that leads to the perception of smell. It is hoped that a synthetic version of that same response could be possible, within sensing devices incorporating the nanotubes.  Read More

The nanodevice consists of a sensor and transmitter (left), a capacitor (middle), and a na...

Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology recently reported the development of what they say is the world’s “first self-powered nano-device that can transmit data wirelessly over long distances.” The tiny device is able to operate battery-free, using a piezoelectric nanogenerator to create electricity from naturally-occurring mechanical vibrations.  Read More

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