Last week we looked at the development of “hydrate-phobic
” surfaces that could assist in the containment of oil leaks in deep water. Now, by adding boron to carbon while growing nanotubes, researchers have developed a nanosponge with the ability to absorb oil spilled in water. Remarkably, the material is able to achieve this feat repeatedly and is also electrically conductive and can be manipulated with magnets.
Imagine if every window of the 828-meter (2,717-foot) high Burj Khalifa
in Dubai was capable of generating electricity just like a PV panel. That's the promise of solar window technology like the RSi
and Sphelar cells
systems. Rather than using costly silicon for window-based collection of solar energy, Dr Mark Bissett proposes using a very thin layer of carbon nanotubes instead.
A Japanese company is looking to take elevators to new heights. The Daily Yomiuri
reports that Tokyo-based construction company Obayashi Corp. hopes to have a space elevator operational by 2050, carrying passengers and cargo in a vehicle that travels along a ribbon made of carbon nanotubes extending a quarter of the way to the moon.
Whether it’s touch-sensitive skin for robots
, clothing made from smart fabrics
, or devices with bendable displays
, stretchable electronics will be playing a large role in a number of emerging technologies. While the field is still very new, stretchable electronic devices may have come a step closer to common use, thanks to research being conducted at North Carolina State University. Scientists there have recently developed a new method for creating elastic conductors, using carbon nanotubes.
Although Klingon-style disappearing spaceships may not be in our neighborhood any time soon, the technology that could allow
a spaceship to vanish from sight may be here now. Scientists from the University of Michigan have successfully made a three-dimensional etched silicon image of a tank appear as a featureless black void, that completely blended in with the backdrop surrounding it. The secret: good ol’ carbon nanotubes.
When it comes to gathering measurements of objects so distant in the universe that they can no longer be seen in visible light, the smallest amount of stray light can play havoc with the sensitive detectors and other instrument components used by astronomers. Currently, instrument developers use black paint on baffles and other components to help prevent stray light ricocheting off surfaces, but the paint absorbs only 90 percent of the light that strikes it. NASA engineers have now developed a nanotech-based coating that absorbs on average more than 99 percent of the ultraviolet, visible, infrared, and far-infrared light that hits it, making it promising for a variety of space- and Earth-bound applications.
Detecting explosives is a vital task both on the battlefield and off, but it requires equipment that, if sensitive enough to detect explosives traces in small quantities, is often expensive, delicate and difficult to construct. Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute have developed a method of manufacturing highly sensitive explosives detectors incorporating RF components using Ink-jet printers. This holds the promise of producing large numbers of detectors at lower cost using local resources.
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.
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.
The United States’ copper-based electric grid is estimated to leak electricity at an estimated five percent per 100 miles (161 km) of transmission. With power plants usually located far from where the electricity they produce will actually be consumed, this can add up to a lot of wasted power. A weave of metallic nanotubes known as armchair quantum wire (AQW) is seen as an ideal solution as it can carry electricity over long distances with negligible loss, but manufacturing the massive amounts of metallic single walled carbon nanotubes required for the development of this “miracle cable” has proven difficult. Now researchers have made a pivotal breakthrough that could make the development of such a cable possible.