Photokina 2014 highlights

Titanium dioxide

Researchers have developed a coating for fabric, that could be used to clean clothing simp...

For some time now, we’ve been hearing about the benefits of drying our laundry outside on the clothesline. We save money and energy by not running the dryer, the sunlight kills germs, and we don’t run the risk of generating harmful dryer emissions. In the future, however, we might also end up washing our clothes by hanging them outside – scientists in China have successfully used sunlight to remove orange dye stains from cotton fabric, that was treated with a special coating.  Read More

One of the Air Clean paving slabs in a laboratory setting

Last month, we told you about an experiment with air-purifying concrete that was recently conducted in the Netherlands. Researchers resurfaced 1,000 square meters of a busy road with concrete paving stones that contained titanium dioxide (TiO2), a photocatalytic material that removes automobile-produced nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the air and converts them into nitrate with the aid of sunlight. When the air was tested up to one-and-a-half meters above those stones, NOx levels were found to be 25 to 45 percent lower than above regular concrete on the same road. Now, a similar study is underway in Germany, and is already showing promising results.  Read More

Common or English ivy (Hedera helix) clinging to an Acacia

Just as an examination of the burrs of seeds that kept sticking to his clothes led Swiss engineer, George de Mestral, to develop Velcro, a search for an explanation as to why the ivy in his backyard clung to this fence so tightly has led Mingjun Zhnag to a new discovery. It seems that tiny particles secreted from ivy rootlets could have applications for military technologies, medical adhesives, drug delivery and, most recently, sun-block that could protect skin from UV radiation at least four times better than the metal-based sunblocks found on store shelves today.  Read More

Capturing heat energy currently lost from semiconductors could lead to cheaper and more ef...

Researchers from University of Minnesota have removed a barrier to improving solar cell efficiency by showing how heat energy currently lost from semiconductors can be captured and transferred to electric circuits. They hope manufacturers will use the results to produce solar cells with twice the output of current solar cells and at a lower cost.  Read More

Nitrogen oxides emitted from car exhausts can lead to acid rain, smog and damage to respir...

Although much of the focus of pollution from automobiles centers on carbon emissions, there are other airborne nasties spewing from the tailpipes of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. These include nitrogen oxides (NOx). In the form of nitrogen dioxide it reacts with chemicals produced by sunlight to form nitric acid – a major constituent of acid rain – and also reacts with sunlight, leading to the formation of ozone and smog. Everyone is exposed to small amounts of nitrogen oxides in ambient air, but exposure to higher amounts, in areas of heavy traffic for example, can damage respiratory airways. Testing has shown that surfacing roads with air purifying concrete could make a big contribution to local air purity by reducing the concentration of nitrogen oxides by 25 to 45 percent.  Read More

A Resobone patch on a model skull

People may joke about someone having a steel plate in their head, but in the case of punctures to the skull, that often ends up actually being the case - the hole in the bone is plugged with a permanent titanium-based patch. Researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology, however, have just announced the development of biodegradable patches that stimulate the skull into healing itself. As the bone grows back in, the patches disappear.  Read More

Are we rushing to embrace the potential benefits of nanotechnology without considering the...

We talk a lot about the wonders of nanotechnology here at Gizmag. After all it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement surround the technology when it promises to revolutionize practically every area of human endeavor. Among its long list of anticipated benefits are new medical treatments; stronger, lighter materials; improved energy production, storage and transmission; and more effective pollution monitoring and prevention, just to name a few. But nanotechnology is not just something set to come about in some far off future – it is happening now. In fact, the odds are there is a product either containing, or made using nanoparticles sitting in your house right now. But the big question is, are they safe?  Read More

Graphene - the one-atom thick wonder material made up of a honeycomb lattice of carbon ato...

It’s not only integrated circuits that look set to benefit from the use of graphene, the one-atom thick wonder material made up of a honeycomb lattice of carbon atoms. Researchers have discovered that adding graphene to titanium dioxide for use as electrodes in batteries improves performance over standard titanium oxide by a factor of three. This could pave the way for inexpensive titanium dioxide to replace the expensive, rare-earth metals or fire-prone carbon-based materials used in today's lithium-ion batteries.  Read More

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