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Nanotubes

Researchers at Stanford University have developed an experimental solar cell made entirely of carbon. In addition to providing a promising alternative to the increasingly expensive materials used in traditional solar cells, the thin film prototype is made of carbon materials that can be coated onto surfaces from a solution, cutting manufacturing costs and offering the potential for coating flexible solar cells onto buildings and car windows. Read More
Silicon’s reign as the standard material for microchip semiconductors may be coming to an end. Using standard semiconductor processes, scientists from IBM Research have succeeded in precisely placing over 10,000 working transistors made from carbon nanotubes onto a wafer surface – and yes, the resulting chip was tested, and it worked. According to IBM, “These carbon devices are poised to replace and outperform silicon technology allowing further miniaturization of computing components and leading the way for future microelectronics.” Read More
When people need a material that’s strong yet lightweight, they usually look to carbon fiber. In the near future, however, they may instead choose to go with composite materials made from stretched carbon nanotubes. These materials could theoretically offer the same strength as carbon fiber at one-tenth the weight, or the same weight at ten times the strength. Researchers from North Carolina State University have recently succeeded in creating such a composite. Read More
We’ve already seen a pen with silver-based ink, that lets its user draw electrical circuits on ordinary paper. Now, scientists from MIT have brought similar “hands on” technology to the humble pencil – they’ve compressed carbon nanotubes together to form a pencil lead substitute, that has been used to draw gas sensors onto regular paper imprinted with gold electrodes. Read More
Research headed by professor Nosang Myung at Bourns College of Engineering, University of California, Riverside (UCR), has resulted in the development of a prototype "electronic nose." The work brings to mind previous "electronic noses" that we reported on back in 2010, but rather than discovering forms of cancer, Myung's prototype is designed to detect harmful airborne agents, such as pesticides, bio-terrorism, gas leaks and other unwanted presences - with clear applications in military, industry and agricultural areas. Read More
A green, rechargeable battery that is suitable for powering electric vehicles and stationary power storage applications, and that would survive tens of thousands of charge cycles in a useful life of 100 years without loss of capacity. What could be a better innovation for our times? Such a battery has been developed, and recently improved by Stanford researchers. Oh, one other thing. The battery was invented by Thomas Edison in 1901. Read More
Researchers at MIT have developed a new type of photovoltaic cell made with carbon nanotubes that captures solar energy in the near-infrared region of the spectrum, which conventional silicon solar cells don’t. The new design means solar cell efficiency could be greatly increased, boosting the chances to make solar power a more popular source of energy. Read More
While wireless sensors for detecting the strain placed on bridges and buildings, such as the SenSpot, are easier and cheaper to install than embedded wired networks of sensors, they still need to be in physical contact with the structure being monitored. Researchers at Rice University have now developed a new type of paint, infused with carbon nanotubes, that could make strain detection of materials in buildings, bridges and aircraft possible without actually touching the material. Read More
Stanford researchers have found that concentric carbon nanotubes, with the outer layer riddled by defects and impurities, could be a cheap alternative for some of the platinum catalysts that convert hydrogen and oxygen into water in fuel cells and metal-air batteries. Read More
French researchers have produced highly conducive plastic fibers with a thickness of only a few nanometers that self-assemble when exposed to a flash of light. The tiny fibers (one nanometer equals one billionth of a meter) could become a cheaper and easier-to-handle alternative to carbon nanotubes and play a role in the development of electronic components on the nanoscale. Read More
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