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Nanotubes

— Electronics

New paper-based explosives sensor is made with an ink jet printer

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. Read More
— Science

Carbon nanotube-reinforced polyurethane could make for bigger and better wind turbines

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
— Science

Olfactory receptor-equipped nanotubes could lead to 'smelling' electronics

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
— Electronics

Breakthrough in development of cable for ultra-efficient electricity grid of the future

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. Read More
— Science

Fluorescent nanotubes used for imaging of internal organs

Mice are frequently used as lab models when testing new drugs, and fluorescent dyes are sometimes injected into their bodies so that researchers can better see how those drugs are progressing through their systems. Unfortunately, the pictures obtained in this process start to become murky when imaging anything more than a few millimeters beneath the skin. Scientists from Stanford University have now devised a system that utilizes fluorescent carbon nanotubes to produce clear color images of organs that are located centimeters within a mouse's body. Read More
— Environment

Modified virus used to significantly boost solar cell efficiency

Last year, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced that they had successfully used carbon nanotubes for "funneling" and concentrating electrons in photovoltaic cells – this meant that smaller solar cells created using the nanotubes could produce as much or more electricity than larger conventional cells. Now, the efficiency of these nanotube solar cells is being boosted further ... with the help of a virus. Read More
— Science

Faster, more efficient desalination process using carbon nanotubes developed

When it comes to desalinating salt water, two of the main options are thermal distillation and reverse osmosis. Thermal distillation involves boiling the water and collecting the resulting freshwater condensation, while reverse osmosis involves pressurizing the salt water and forcing it through a semipermeable membrane, which will allow water molecules to pass through, but not salt. Both of these methods, however, require a considerable amount of energy – not as environmentally sound as they could be, nor entirely practical for use in developing nations, where electricity isn’t readily available. Now, however, a newly-developed membrane that incorporates carbon nanotubes could make desalination much quicker, easier and energy-efficient. Read More
— Electronics

Replacement developed for rare material widely used in electronics manufacture

With its two chief properties of excellent electrical conductivity and optical transparency, indium tin oxide (ITO) can be found in transparent conductive coatings for displays found in all kinds of products, such as TVs, mobile phones and laptops, and is also used as a transparent electrode in thin-film solar cells. Unfortunately indium is a rare metal and available supplies could run out in as little as ten years. This has prompted researchers to search for alternatives with some success already reported using carbon nanotubes and copper nanowires. The latest ITO replacement material also uses carbon nanotubes, as well as other commonly available materials, and is environmentally friendly. Read More
— Science

Microfluidic device promises rapid detection of cancer and HIV

A cross-discipline project that brings together biomedicine and nano-engineering has led to the development of a dime-sized microfluidic device that can rapidly detect cancer cells in a blood sample. The new device is based on a cancer cell-detector created four years ago by Mehmet Toner, professor of biomedical engineering at Harvard Medical School. In its latest incarnation, carbon nanotubes have been introduced into the design resulting in an eight-fold improvement in the collection of cells. Read More
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