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Northwestern University

— Environment

Non-toxic corn starch could replace cyanide in gold mines

By - May 14, 2013 1 Picture
In the gold-mining process, the precious metal is often extracted from low-grade ore in a technique known as gold cyanidation. As its name suggests, the process utilizes highly-poisonous cyanide, some of which ends up entering the environment in the mines’ tailings. That’s not so good. Scientists at Illinois’ Northwestern University, however, recently announced their discovery of a new gold recovery process that’s based on a non-toxic component of corn starch. Read More
— Electronics

Experimental lithium-ion battery can be stretched, twisted and wirelessly charged

By - February 27, 2013 3 Pictures
Thanks to the advent of stretchable electronics, we’re currently witnessing the development of things like smart fabrics, bendable displays, and even pressure-sensitive skin for robots. In many potential applications, however, the usefulness of such electronics would be limited if they still had to be hooked up to a rigid battery. In response to that problem, a team of scientists have recently created – you guessed it – a stretchable lithium-ion battery. Read More
— Electronics

"Transient electronics" dissolve once they're not needed

By - September 27, 2012 6 Pictures
We’ve certainly been hearing a lot lately about tiny electronic devices that can do things such as delivering medication after being implanted in the body, measuring structural stress upon being attached to a bridge, or monitoring pollution after being placed in the environment. In all of these cases, the device has to be retrieved once it’s served its purpose, or just left in place indefinitely. Now, however, an interdisciplinary team of researchers have demonstrated “transient electronics,” which dissolve into nothing after a pre-determined amount of time. Read More
— Science

World’s most efficient thermoelectric material developed

By - September 20, 2012 1 Picture
Approximately 90 percent of the world’s electricity is generated by heat energy. Unfortunately, electricity generation systems operate at around 30 to 40 percent efficiency, meaning around two thirds of the energy input is lost as waste heat. Despite this, the inefficiency of current thermoelectric materials that can convert waste heat to electricity has meant their commercial use has been limited. Now researchers have developed a thermoelectric material they claim is the best in the world at converting waste heat into electricity, potentially providing a practical way to capture some of the energy that is currently lost. Read More
— Science

Superhydrophobic coating allows water to boil without bubbles

By - September 14, 2012 1 Picture
You know that thing that water does when it boils? The thing with the bubbles? Turns out, it doesn't really need to do that at all, with scientists finding a way to make boiling water a completely bubble-free zone. Researchers from Northwestern University, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and Melbourne University in Australia teamed up to prevent water from bubbling when it boils by using tiny spheres coated with a hydrophobic material. Read More
— Environment

“Nano-velcro” traps and detects heavy metals in contaminated waterways

By - September 11, 2012 1 Picture
While progress has been made in reducing the amount of heavy metal pollution, the very nature of heavy metal contamination means it continues to be a problem in waterways around the world. Conventional heavy metal contamination detection methods require sending samples off to a lab for analysis on expensive equipment. Now a Swiss-American team has developed a cheap way to immediately ascertain the levels of heavy metals in lakes and rivers and the fish pulled out of them. Read More
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