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Nanotubes

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
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
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
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
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
Two years ago, Chinese scientists coated one side of a flag with a thin sheet of nanotubes, then played a song using the flapping sheet-coated flag as a speaker. It was a demonstration of flexible speaker technology, in which nanotubes can be made to generate sound waves via a thermoacoustic effect – every time an electrical pulse is sent through the microscopic layer of nanotubes, it causes the air around them to heat up, which in turn creates a sound wave. Now, an American scientist has taken that technology underwater, where he claims it could allow submariners to detect other submarines, and to remain hidden themselves. Read More
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the bacteria responsible for antibiotic resistant infections, poses a serious problem in hospitals, where patients with open wounds, invasive devices and weakened immune systems are at greater risk of infection than the general public. In a move that could significantly reduce this risk, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have created a nanoscale coating for surgical equipment, hospital walls, and other surfaces which safely eradicates MRSA. Read More
You might think it was a simple law of physics that most solids melt as they get hotter, and harden as they get colder. A few materials, however, do just the opposite – they melt as they cool. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have recently discovered that by dissolving certain metals into silicon, they can add that silicon compound to the relatively short list of exotic substances that exhibit retrograde melting. Their accomplishment could ultimately result in less expensive solar cells and electronic devices. Read More
An advanced cooling technology being developed for high-power electronics in military and automotive systems is capable of handling roughly 10 times the heat generated by conventional computer chips. The new type of cooling system can be used to prevent overheating of devices called insulated gate bipolar transistors, high-power switching transistors used in hybrid and electric vehicles. The chips are required to drive electric motors, switching large amounts of power from the battery pack to electrical coils needed to accelerate a vehicle from zero to 60 mph in 10 seconds or less. Read More
Researchers at MIT have found that using specially treated thin layers of carbon nanotubes in batteries can boost the amount of power delivered per unit of weight by up to ten times. While the technology still needs improving, its full development and large-scale employment would certainly revolutionize the way we use any electronic devices, from an iPod to an electric car. Read More
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