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Nanowires

A nanowire sporting tendrils of nanoparticles, which greatly add to its surface area

Higher-density batteries, more efficient thin-film solar cells, and better catalysts may all soon be possible, thanks to a new technique that allows nanowires to be “decorated” with nanoparticles. Using the novel technology, scientists from Stanford University have been able to festoon the outside surfaces of nanowires with intricate chains of metal oxide or noble metal nanoparticles, thereby drastically boosting the effective surface area of the nanowires. Other researchers have previously tried to achieve the same end result, but apparently never with such success.  Read More

Majorana fermions might be the sole component of the dark matter in our Universe (Photo:

Physicists at the Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, have achieved a milestone that might soon revolutionize the world of quantum computing, quantum physics, and perhaps shed new light on the mystery of the dark matter in our universe. Experimenting with nanoelectronics, a group led by Prof. Leo Kouwenhoven has succeeded in detecting the elusive Majorana fermion in the laboratory, without the need for a particle accelerator.  Read More

Artist's impression showing conductive supramolecular fibers trapped between two gold elec...

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

Electronic microscopic image of a 'nanoforest,' with green tint added for contrast (Imge: ...

While hydrogen is considered a “clean” fuel because the only waste product it generates is water, the conventional way to produce it relies on electricity, which is usually produced through the burning of fossil fuels. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), have now developed a “3D branched nanowire array” that they claim could cheaply and cleanly deliver hydrogen fuel on a mass scale.  Read More

One of the nanowire meshes, created by the Stanford scientists

Some day, meshes made from nanowires could be used in devices such as video displays, LEDs, thin-film solar cells, and touch-screens. According to research performed so far, such meshes would be very electrically conductive, cost-effective, and easy to process. What has proven challenging, however, is finding a way of getting the criss-crossed nanowires to fuse together to form that mesh – if pressed or heated, the wires can be damaged. Now, engineers from Stanford University may have found the answer ... just apply light.  Read More

Schematic of MIT's Photosystem-I solar energy harvesting chip

Research scientist Andreas Mershin has a dream to bring inexpensive solar power to the masses, especially those in developing countries. After years of research, he and his team at MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, along with University of Tennessee biochemist Barry Bruce, have worked out a process that extracts functional photosynthetic molecules from common yard and agricultural waste. If all goes well, in a few years it should be possible to gather up a pile of grass clippings, mix it with a blend of cheap chemicals, paint it on your roof and begin producing electricity. Talk about redefining green power plants!  Read More

A diagram of a three-dimensional indium-gallium-arsenide transistor (Image: Peter Ye, Purd...

Starting next year, computers will be available with three-dimensional transistors – these will incorporate vertical components, unlike the flat chips that we’re used to seeing. This structure will allow them to have shorter gates, which are the components that allow the transistors to switch the electrical current on and off, and to direct its flow. The shorter the gate, the faster the computer can operate. While the new 3D transistors will have a gate length of 22 nanometers, as opposed to the present length of about 45, the use of silicon as a construction material limits how much shorter they could ultimately get. That’s why scientists from Purdue and Harvard universities have created prototype 3D transistors made out of indium-gallium-arsenide – the same compound recently used in a record-breaking solar cell.  Read More

A scanning electron microscope image of the nanowire-alginate composite scaffolds, showing...

Around the world, scientists have been working on ways of replacing the heart tissue that dies when a heart attack occurs. These efforts have resulted in heart "patches" that are made from actual cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells), or that encourage surrounding heart cells to grow into them. One problem with some such patches, however, lies in the fact that that they consist of cardiomyocytes set within a scaffolding of poorly-conductive materials. This means that they are insulated from the electrical signals sent out by the heart, so they don't expand and contract as the heart beats. Scientists at MIT, however, may be on the way to a solution.  Read More

A new flexible film made of copper nanowires and plastic conducts electricity illuminating...

In June of last year we reported on the success by researchers at Duke University in developing a technique capable of producing copper nanowires at a scale that could make them a potential replacement for rare and expensive indium tin oxide (ITO) in touch screens and solar panels. However, the water-based production process resulted in the copper nanowires clumping, which reduced their transparency and prevented the copper from oxidizing, which decreases their conductivity. The researchers have now solved the clumping problem and say that copper nanowires could be appearing in cheaper touch screens, solar cells and flexible electronics in the next few years.  Read More

Graduate students Guoping Wang (L), Sheng Chu (R) and professor of electrical engineering ...

Although ultraviolet semiconductor diode lasers are widely used in data processing, information storage and biology, their applications have been limited by the lasers’ size, cost and power. Now researchers at the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering have overcome these problems by developing a new semiconductor nanowire laser technology that could be used to provide denser optical disc storage, superfast data processing and transmission and even to change the function of a living cell.  Read More

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