Super-black nanotechnology might sound like something ripped from the pages of a comic book, but instead of being in the hands of a super-villain, it's a NASA-researched technology that is set to make spacecraft instruments more sensitive without increasing their size. John Hagopian, an optics engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and his team have demonstrated the ability to grow a uniform layer of carbon nanotubes on oddly shaped platforms, which will extend the potential of the technology by allowing nanotubes to be grown on 3D components. Read More
A study conducted at Columbia University has revealed that even when stitched together from much smaller fragments, large sheets of graphene still retain much of their mechanical properties. The discovery may be a crucial step forward in the mass-production of carbon nanotubes that could be used to manufacture flexible electronics, ultra-light and strong materials, and perhaps even the first space elevator. Read More
Most previous methods of producing methanol from carbon dioxide have involved lots of electricity, high pressures and high temperatures, and used toxic chemicals or rare earth elements like cadmium or tellurium. A team of researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) has developed a new method they claim is safer, less expensive, and simpler than current approaches and can be scaled up to an industrial scale to allow some of the CO2 emitted from electrical power plants to be captured and converted into a useful fuel. Read More
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
At about 100 times the strength of steel at one sixth the weight and with impressive electrical conductive properties, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have promised much since their discovery in 1991. The problem has been translating their impressive nanoscale properties into real-world applications on the macro scale. Researchers have now unveiled a new CNT fiber that conducts heat and electricity like a metal wire, is very strong like carbon fiber, and is flexible like a textile thread. Read More
First of all, how can non-invasive surgery even be possible? After all, even in the case of minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery, small incisions are still made in the skin. Nonetheless, that’s just what scientists from the University of Michigan are proposing. They believe that it could be achieved by using a beam of sound, which would be emitted through the skin to a highly-focused point within the body – and they’ve already created such a beam and used it. Read More
In the wake of last week’s horrific shootings in Connecticut, we’re sure to be seeing a lot more products like this cropping up. Made by Salt Lake City-based body armor company Amendment II, it’s called the Ballistic Backpack, and it’s designed to protect its wearer from bullets. Read More
While there are already protective cover-all suits that offer protection against chemical and biological agents, it’s unrealistic to suggest that soldiers should carry such suits with them at all times, and hurriedly pull them on in the event of an attack. Instead, research teams from several institutions are developing something a little more practical – uniform fabric that automatically becomes impermeable to toxic substances, when it detects them in the area. Read More
An international team of scientists based at the University of Texas, Dallas (UTD), has developed a new type of artificial muscle created from carbon “nanotubes” – tiny hollow cylinders constructed from the same graphite layers found in the core of a standard pencil. Despite measuring 10,000 times less than the diameter of a human hair, the new muscles can lift more than 100,000 times their own weight, which amounts to approximately 85 times the power of a natural muscle of equivalent size. Read More
We’ve seen nanomaterials that can be used to convert light into electricity and others that can convert heat into electricity. Now researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington and Louisana Tech University have created a hybrid nanomaterial that can do both. By pairing the material with microchips, the researchers say it could be used in self-powered sensors, low-power electronic devices, and biomedical implants. Read More