Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Nanotubes

Graduate student Brent Carey, positioning a piece of the nanocomposite material for dynami...

If someone does a lot of arm curls at the gym, the typical result is that the bones and muscles in their arms will get stronger. Recently, researchers at Houston’s Rice University inadvertently created a nanocomposite that behaves in the same way. Although the material doesn’t respond to static stress, repeated mechanical stress will cause it to become stiffer.  Read More

Researchers from the University of Illinois have developed a new low-power digital memory ...

Researchers from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of the University of Illinois have developed a new low-power digital memory which uses much less power and is faster than other solutions currently available. The breakthrough could give future consumer devices like smartphones and laptops a much longer battery life, but might also benefit equipment used in telecommunications, science or by the military.  Read More

Researchers have developed touchscreens containing carbon nanotubes that can be made of lo...

Over the past decade, touchscreens have risen to dominate mobile phone and other mobile consumer electronic device interfaces – and their popularity shows no sign of waning. Capacitive touchscreens, the type most commonly used in consumer electronics, usually use a conductor made of indium tin oxide (ITO). This material is well suited to this purpose due to its excellent conductivity and its transparency in thin layers. Unfortunately there are few deposits of indium in the world, which has prompted a search for alternatives. One such new alternative are touchscreens containing carbon nanotubes, which researchers claim offer comparable performance to ITO, but are much cheaper.  Read More

Frozen smoke is the world's lightest solid material

Researchers have created a new aerogel that boasts amazing strength and an incredibly large surface area. Nicknamed ‘frozen smoke’ due to its translucent appearance, aerogels are manufactured materials derived from a gel in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with a gas, resulting in a material renowned as the world’s lightest solid material. The new so-called “multiwalled carbon nanotube (MCNT) aerogel” could be used in sensors to detect pollutants and toxic substances, chemical reactors, and electronics components.  Read More

Scientists have discovered that tiny sonic booms cause carbon nanotubes to shear off from ...

Single-walled carbon nanotubes are an essential component of many innovations in the field of nanotechnology, with particular potential in the fields of electronics, optics, and automotive technology. Until recently, however, one of the processes for synthesizing them had not fully been understood. More precisely, no one was sure exactly what caused the nanotubes to break, or how to better control the process for the creation of higher-quality tubes. Now, researchers from Rhode Island's Brown University and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) think they have it figured out – it all comes down to tiny sonic booms pressing in on the tubes from either end.  Read More

Scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of a DWNT-polymer fiber which exhibits high stren...

A new high performance fiber that is better at absorbing energy without breaking than Kevlar has been created by the U.S Department of Defence. While still under development, the material could be used in bulletproof vests, parachutes, or in composite materials for vehicles, airplanes and satellites in the future. The fiber has been engineered from carbon nanotubes spun into a yarn and held together using a polymer. The resultant material is tough and strong while still remaining flexible.  Read More

A new screening tool which uses a process known as 'transient absorption' to detect metall...

The use of semiconducting carbon nanotubes in place of conventional silicon components and circuits could revolutionize electronics, bringing us even faster and more power efficient devices. One of the problems in manufacturing these nanostructures is getting rid of unwanted metallic tubes, but researchers from Purdue University (PU), Indiana, hope a new screening tool which uses a process known as "transient absorption" to detect these impurities will provide a boost to the manufacturing process.  Read More

Examples of the 3D nanotube structures created by capillary forming (Photo: A. John Hart)

Carbon nanotubes, despite all the technological advances they’re making possible, look pretty boring. When viewed though a microscope, they are, essentially, just straight tubes. Now scientists from the University of Michigan have used a process called “capillary forming” to create nanotubes that resemble twisting spires, concentric rings, and bending petals. It's not about aesthetics though, giving nanotubes complex 3D shapes is seen as an important breakthrough in the development of microdevices and nanomaterials.  Read More

Researchers are using the highly-conductive properties of carbon-nanotubes in plastic manu...

Protecting aircraft from lightning strikes probably isn't the first use of nanotechnology that springs to mind, but that's exactly what Fraunhofer researchers hope to achieve by combining carbon nanotubes with carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRPs).  Read More

Postdoctoral associate Jae-Hee Han, left, graduate student Geraldine Paulus and associate ...

The size and efficiency of current photovoltaic (PV) cells means most people would probably have to cover large areas of their rooftops with such cells to even come close to meeting all their electricity needs. Using carbon nanotubes, MIT chemical engineers have now found a way to concentrate solar energy 100 times more than a regular PV cell. Such nanotubes could form antennas that capture and focus light energy, potentially allowing much smaller and more powerful solar arrays.  Read More

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