Photokina 2014 highlights

Nanotechnology

The movements of a fruit fly larva were observed under scanning electron microscope (Image...

Whether you're a researcher wishing to study living insects in conditions requiring a lethal vacuum, or you're that insect in the vacuum simply wishing not to die, scientists have found a solution to your problem. Using only a common chemical and a scanning electron microscope (SEM), a team at the Hamamatsu University School of Medicine developed a process that allows insects to survive in a vacuum of about a millionth of atmospheric pressure. Not just a new technique in biologists' toolkit, this research adds a small piece to our understanding of how life – insect, human, or otherwise – might be sustained outside the narrow constraints our bodies demand.  Read More

A rendering of the nanosponges attracting bloodstream-borne toxins

If you’ve seen many old westerns, then you’ll likely have watched a few scenes where one cowboy has to suck rattlesnake venom out of another one’s leg. Things would have been much easier for those cowboys if nanosponges had been around at the time. Developed by scientists at the University of California, San Diego, the tiny sponges mimic red blood cells, and are able to soak up lethal toxins – including snake venom and bacteria – from the bloodstream.  Read More

Nanofoams, such as this one made from porous silica, are able to absorb large amounts of e...

Given that scientists are already looking to sea sponges as an inspiration for body armor, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that foam is also being considered ... not just any foam, though. Unlike regular foam, specially-designed nanofoams could someday not only be used in body armor, but also to protect buildings from explosions.  Read More

Diagram of the experimental device that sees the osmotic transport of water through a tran...

In November 2009, Norwegian state owned electricity company Statkraft opened the world’s first osmotic power plant prototype, which generates electricity from the difference in the salt concentration between river water and sea water. While osmotic power is a clean, renewable energy source, its commercial use has been limited due to the low generating capacities offered by current technology – the Statkraft plant, for example, has a capacity of about 4 kW. Now researchers have discovered a new way to harness osmotic power that they claim would enable a 1 m2 (10.7 sq. ft.) membrane to have the same 4 kW capacity as the entire Statkraft plant.  Read More

Ever Dry creates a barrier of air between moisture and materials

Ready to be amazed? According to Ultra-tech, a Florida-based containment provider for chemical clean-up and waste management, its new Ultra-Ever Dry coating is an amazing product. The coating is "super-hydrophobic" and "oleophobic," meaning it repels almost any liquid on a wide range of materials, including – but not limited to – hammers to boots and gloves as you'll see in the following video demonstration.  Read More

Swedish researchers believe that size is they key to furthering the development of nanowir...

In a breakthrough that could lead to more efficient and cheaper solar cells, scientists at Sweden's Lund University claim to have identified the ideal diameter for nanowires to convert sunlight into electricity.  Read More

A cross-section transmission electron micrograph of the tiny new transistor

As there is a finite number of transistors that can be effectively packed onto a silicon chip, researchers have been searching for an alternative to silicon that would allow integrated circuit development to continue to keep pace with Moore's Law. Researchers at MIT have recently used indium gallium arsenide to create the smallest transistor ever built from a material other than silicon. The new transistor, which is said to “work well,” is just 22 nanometers long and is a metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET), which is the kind typically used in microprocessors.  Read More

The Mujjo leather touchscreen glove

Using a touchscreen in wintertime or on the ski slopes is annoying because screens are designed to work with bare fingers. True, there are numerous gloves available that work with screens, so you don’t freeze your fingers while surfing the internet, but they tend to look like cheap woolly things. Now Mujjo, the Dutch designer label for mobile accessories, has developed leather touchscreen gloves, so you don’t have to choose between style and frostbite.  Read More

The nanoscale metal mesh that makes up the top layer of the sandwich-like PlaCSH material

One of the main reasons that solar cells aren’t more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity is because much of that sunlight is reflected off the cell, or can’t be fully absorbed by it. A new sandwich-like material created by researchers at Princeton University, however, is claimed to dramatically address that problem – by minimizing reflection and increasing absorption, it reportedly boosts the efficiency of organic solar cells by 175 percent.  Read More

Australian scientists have developed a promising new approach to hydrogen storage

Scientists at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia, are developing a novel way to store hydrogen that could help turn it into a viable portable fuel source. The research centers on using synthesized nanoparticles of the compound sodium borohydride (NaBH4 for those who love chemistry), which when encased inside nickel shells exhibits surprising and practical storage properties including the ability to reabsorb hydrogen and release it at much lower temperatures than previously observed, making it an attractive proposition for transport applications.  Read More

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