Stronger Lightweight Magnesium Alloys
5 May 2013, 15:19
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for creating stronger, lightweight magnesium alloys that have potential structural applications in the automobile and aerospace industries. Their goal is to develop structural materials with a high specific strength, which measures how much load it can carry per unit of weight.
The researchers focused on magnesium alloys because magnesium is very light. They were able to strengthen the material by introducing “nano-spaced stacking faults”. These are essentially a series of parallel fault-lines in the crystalline structure of the alloy that isolate any defects in that structure. This increases the overall strength of the material by approximately 200 percent. The nano-spaced stacking faults were introduced to the alloy using conventional “hot rolling” technology.
Ionic Thrusters May Be Alternative To Conventional Propulsion
5 May 2013, 15:11
When a current passes between two electrodes — one thinner than the other — it creates wind in the air between. If enough voltage is applied, the resulting wind can produce a thrust without the help of motors or fuel. This phenomenon, called electrohydrodynamic thrust — or “ionic wind” — could be a viable propulsion system.
MIT researchers have found that ionic thrusters may be a far more efficient source of propulsion than conventional jet engines. They found that ionic wind produces 110 newtons of thrust per kilowatt, compared with a jet engine’s 2 newtons per kilowatt. Ionic wind may be used as a propulsion system for small, lightweight aircraft. In addition, ionic thrusters are silent, and invisible in infrared, as they give off no heat — ideal traits for a surveillance vehicle.
Removing Contaminants From Water
5 May 2013, 14:42
Categories: filtration nanoparticles
Researchers from Rice University, DuPont Central Research and Development, and Stanford University have announced a full-scale field test of a new process that quickly rids groundwater of contaminants. When chloroform-contaminated water is passed through a column containing pellets, the palladium and gold in the pellets spur a chemical reaction. The pellets are capable of breaking down hazardous compounds like vinyl chloride, trichloroethene (TCE), and chloroform into non-toxic byproducts.
Philips Doubles Efficiency Of LED Tube Lights
5 May 2013, 14:32
Categories: smt-luminescent-light-emit energy
Philips has cut the amount of power of its overhead LED tube light in half, a sign of continuing improvements in LED lighting geared at displacing incumbent technologies. The company says it has built a prototype of a tubular overhead LED light that produces 200 lumens of light with a watt of power. Its current products produce light at 100 lumens per watt, about the same as florescent tube lights. Even though the price of LEDs will be higher, Philips thinks that they can start to displace more of the florescent tube lights that are everywhere from office buildings to parking garages based on energy savings.
The company plans to commercialize the technology in 2015 and transfer it to other products, including consumer light bulbs. In a consumer LED light bulb, that would mean that a 60-watt replacement would consume about 5 watts. “You could easily see how it will work through the entire retrofit line,” says Coen Liedenbaum, the innovation area manager in lighting at Philips Lighting.
Engineers were able to get the jump in efficiency by tuning the light the lamp gives off. The LED semiconductor and the phosphor – the coating material that converts blue LED light to white light – have been optimized for how people perceive brightness. “We are trying to exactly match the eye sensitivity of people, therefore needing less energy to perceive the same level of brightness,” Liedenbaum says. The optics and other components were also improved for efficiency.
Synthetic Biology Produces Glowing Plants
5 May 2013, 14:23
Categories: synthetic-biology smt-luminescent-light-emit
Glowing Plants is a Kickstarter project which sells night lights – the only catch is that they’re delivered in seed form and you have to grow them yourself. By pledging $40 dollars to the projects you will receive 50-100 seeds that you can grow into your very own organic night lights. There is also the option of pledging $150 to receive a fully formed plant, making the task of gardening an irrelevant one.
World's Smallest Stop-Motion Movie
5 May 2013, 14:14
IBM has produced the world’s smallest stop-motion film, but moving atoms and capturing each move. The ability to move single atoms is crucial to IBM’s research in the field of atomic memory; but even nanophysicists need to have a little fun. In that spirit, IBM researchers used a scanning tunneling microscope to move thousands of carbon monoxide molecules (two atoms stacked on top of each other), all in pursuit of making a movie so small it can be seen only when you magnify it 100 million times. You can see how it was made here.
Metamaterial Traps, Then Releases, Light Waves
29 April 2013, 19:05
Categories: metamaterials optics--photonics
The ability to slow down and trap light has become a hot topic in physics since it was first observed in the 1990s. The ability to trap electromagnetic waves has important applications in areas such as information storage, sensing, and quantum optics. But the field has not progressed quite as quickly as many had hoped. That’s largely because of the complexity of the experimental setup and the difficulty of releasing the waves with their original properties after they have been trapped.
Now, researchers at Kyoto University in Japan reveal a new approach to this problem that has the potential to bring the routine storage and release of electromagnetic waves closer to reality. Their approach involves using metamaterials, which are structured materials consisting of periodic arrays of subwavelength–sized components that influence the passage of electromagnetic waves through the material. Their beauty is that they can be engineered with properties that no natural material possesses. In this case, each component in the array contains two variable capacitors; one absorbs and radiates waves at a particular frequency while the other is designed to trap them.
The result is a means to trap and release electromagnetic waves of light, and the team has built a proof-of-principle device that does exactly this with microwaves.
Nanotechnology In Furniture
28 April 2013, 11:01
Categories: designers smart-materials-smt
Just like other industry sectors, the furniture industry is trying to become more efficient by minimizing material use, minimizing waste, and optimizing energy consumption, while improving the performance of their products. Nanotechnology and nanomaterials can play an important role in achieving these goals, and Nanowerk’s Michael Berger recently provided a thorough overview of what’s in store for the furniture sector.
In the near future, using nanomaterials in furniture may lead to a reduced need for adhesives and functional textiles. Expect to see “smart” furniture – furniture that heats itself when it’s cold; becomes opaque when the sun is shining intensely; changes color upon demand; measures core body functions; has antibacterial coatings that get activated on contact or self-healing coatings to repair scratches and minor damage; has embedded electronics that for instance signals you when you run out of food supplies; or includes shape memory alloys that change their shape.
A recent joint project by the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW), the European Furniture Manufacturers Federation (UEA) and the European Furniture Industries Federation (EFIC) mapped current uses and near future perspective on nanomaterials in the European furniture sector. It looked at innovative materials and potentials of nanotechnology that may positively affect the furniture sector; it also considered possible health risks and steps towards workplace prevention strategies following the precautionary principle. The findings have been published in a report that is available as a free PDF download.
The report doesn’t go into the more future-oriented “smart” furniture products mentioned above. It looks at material or product enhancement based on nanomaterials such as, for instance, the production of more durable wood, stronger and more durable concrete, glass, special textiles etc. It also reviews improved and functionalized nanocoatings that find applications in the furniture industry.
Transient Electronics Disappear Over Time
28 April 2013, 10:32
Categories: smt-polymorphic-shape-shifters coatings
Scientists described key advances toward practical uses of a new genre of tiny, biocompatible electronic devices that could be implanted into the body to relieve pain or battle infection for a specific period of time, and then dissolve harmlessly. These “transient electronics could have other uses, including consumer electronics products with a pre-engineered service life.
“The goal of the electronics industry has always been to build durable devices that last forever with stable performance,” John Rogers explained. “But many new opportunities open up once you start thinking about electronics that could disappear in a controlled and programmable way.”
Those opportunities, he added, include cell phones and other mobile devices that stop working on a timetable corresponding to the time for upgrading to a new model. Instead of adding to the $50 million of so-called e-waste generated every year, the devices would simply break down.
Medical implants that are only needed for a few weeks could just disappear, without requiring an extra surgery to remove them from the body. And no one would have to retrieve dozens of transient water-quality sensors from a river undergoing water quality monitoring. They would dissolve without a trace and without harm to the environment.
The transient electronics are enclosed in material that dissolves completely after a certain period of time when exposed to water or body fluids, somewhat like dissolvable sutures. By altering the number of layers of the wrapping, scientists can define everything about how the device will dissolve in the body or in the environment, including its overall lifetime, said Rogers.
The devices perform just as well as conventional electronics and function normally until the encapsulating layer disappears. Once that happens, it takes about 30 minutes for the electronic connections to dissolve away, and the device stops working. Current versions of the devices remain operable for a few weeks. Rogers’ team is researching ways to make devices that last a few years.
One Thousand Tweets!
28 April 2013, 10:17
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Shape Memory Polymers Enable Haptic Keyboard With Tactile Feedback
28 April 2013, 10:04
A very thin keyboard that uses shape-changing polymers to replicate the feel and sound of chunky, clicking buttons could be in laptops and ultrabooks next year. Strategic Polymers Sciences developed the keyboard and is working on transparent coatings that would enable this feature in touch screens.
“It’s amazing how fast software has grown to compensate for problems with touch screens—and sometimes you still text a word that’s the opposite of what you mean,” says Christophe Ramstein, CEO of Strategic Polymers. The letters on the company’s haptic keyboard vibrate to confirm that they’ve been pressed; that vibration can also be used to create sound waves, so the keys can click, or even play music. The advantage of the haptic keyboard over one with physical buttons, says Ramstein, is that it’s just 1.5 millimeters thick, and it’s flexible.
There are other materials that provide this kind of response to electric fields, but they don’t have the ideal balance of properties, says Qiming Zhang, cofounder of the company and a professor of electrical engineering at Penn State University. On the one side, there are very hard ceramic piezoelectrics that can respond rapidly to voltage, but don’t provide much shape change. On the other are other electrically responsive polymers that can dramatically change shape but work slowly. The new polymers respond in milliseconds, change their shape by as much as 10 percent, and respond to small voltages, says Zhang.
Clean Air Technologies
27 April 2013, 19:05
Chemists at the University of South Florida and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology have discovered a more efficient, less expensive and reusable material for carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and separation. The breakthrough could have implications for a new generation of clean-air technologies and offers new tools for confronting the world’s challenges in controlling carbon.
The group of scientists has identified a previously underused material – known as SIFSIX-1-Cu – that offers a highly efficient mechanism for capturing CO2. The material is a crystal whose atoms form a three-dimensional lattice with holes that snare molecules of CO2 but allow other molecules in air to pass.
SIFSIX-1-Cu is an adaptation of a material created more than 15 years ago and is named after the chemical component that leads to the special properties; its chemical name is hexafluorosilicate. Porous SIFSIX materials are built from combinations of inorganic and organic chemical building blocks and are part of a general class of materials known as Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) or Metal-Organic Materials (MOMs).
The material also is highly-effective at carbon capture even in the presence of water vapor, a standard that other materials have not been able to meet. This makes it a promising candidate for real-world applications.
Redesigned Germanium Could Lead To Lighter, Faster Electronics
27 April 2013, 18:41
Chemists at the Ohio State University have made a one-atom-thick sheet of germanium, and found that it conducts electrons more than ten times faster than silicon and five times faster than conventional germanium. The material’s structure is closely related to that of graphene, the much-touted two-dimensional material comprised of single layers of carbon atoms.
“Most people think of graphene as the electronic material of the future,” Joshua Goldberger said. “But silicon and germanium are still the materials of the present. Sixty years’ worth of brainpower has gone into developing techniques to make chips out of them. So we’ve been searching for unique forms of silicon and germanium with advantageous properties, to get the benefits of a new material but with less cost and using existing technology.”
27 April 2013, 17:08
Categories: sensors smt-energy-photovoltaic
Researchers at the University of Exeter have developed a new photodetector device that is both flexible and transparent. The device converts light into electrical signals by exploiting the unique properties of graphene. At just a few atoms thick, the newly developed photoelectric device is ultra-lightweight. This, along with the flexibility of its constituent graphene materials, makes it perfect for incorporating into clothing. Such devices could be used to develop photovoltaic textiles that enable clothes to act as solar panels and charge mobile phones while they are being worn.
“We are only just starting to explore the interfaces between different materials at very small scales and, as this research shows, we are revealing unique properties that we never knew existed. Who knows what surprises are just around the corner,” says Saverio Russo.
Metallic nanostructures in smart materials typically cause a haze that prevents them from being truly transparent. The photosensitive device developed at Exeter contains no metals and is therefore completely transparent but, as it can detect light from across the whole visible light spectrum, it is as efficient at sensing light as other recently developed opaque photoelectric devices.
The Nanofabrication Paintings Of Shane Hope
27 April 2013, 16:48
Categories: artists molecular-manufacturing
Winkleman Gallery, in New York City, has opened a new exhibition, titled Nano-Nonobjective-Oriented Ontographs and Qubit-Built Quilts. It is their third solo exhibition by New York artist Shane Hope, and runs March 29 through May 4, 2013. The gallery explains:
Accelerating progress in nanometer-scale science and technology continues to expand the toolkit with which we can eventually assemble things from the atom up. This will potentially give rise to nearly costless systems for controlling the structure of matter itself. In the interim, the 3D printing revolution is said to have already arrived, promising content-to-print solutions and on-demand means of increasingly customizable production. But molecular manufacturing and 3D printing won’t merely make for an end to material scarcity as we know it. These so-called “abundance” technologies will make for objecthoods the likes of which we’ve not known and maybe can’t know this side of some sort of technological singularity (i.e, the theoretical emergence of superintelligence through technological means beyond which events cannot be predicted). It’s in anticipation of that reality race that Shane Hope’s work starts.
To foreshadow an age of hacking matter, Shane Hope uses molecular modeling research software and crafts custom code to grow generative molecular designs and algorithmically automate alternative representations of nano-scaled structures. With intent to literally convert digital bits back into atoms and properly relate the operative ideologies of 3D-printing to the research and development of theoretical nanofacture, Hope has hand-hobbled together from scratch a number of RepRaps (3D printers) which he uses to materialize (or literally to print) his amassing cache of newfangled nanomolecular models. Hope collages together thousands of these 2D rendered and 3D printed models into painterly compositions depicting things organic, inorganic, synthesizable, theoretically feasible, nonsensical, and nonobjective.
The resulting artworks, in series called “Nano-Nonobjective-Oriented Ontographs”, “Qubit-Built Quilts”, “Post-Scarcity Percept-Pus Portraits” and “Scriptable-Scalable Species-Tool-Beings,” offer visual art answers to technological singularity blindsightedness; that the future’s futures can’t really be foreseen. How can we hope to depict the runaway imaginings of accelerated artificial intelligences? What will it look like if and after our overclocked-offspring (quicker-thinking posthuman descendants) decide to disassemble everything we know for spare parts?
Forever optimistic, Hope puts forth these pieces as plans for playborground ball pits of pure operationality all about an atomic admin access-privs picturesque. He considers them compendia serving to lay bare the interobjectivity between nanomolecular unit operations; to abandon anthropocentric narrative adherence; to show how the sum of the parts is greater than the whole; to inscribe object-to-object fault lines of relata distortion on equal ontologically flattened footing with humans; and to display the density of how much can simultaneously exist more like manifold meanwhiles all the way across.
Graphene: Isolated In Manchester
27 April 2013, 16:37
Graphene was first isolated by Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov at The University of Manchester, UK. It is the thinnest material known and yet also one of the strongest. It conducts electricity as efficiently as copper and outperforms all other materials as a conductor of heat. Graphene is almost completely transparent, yet so dense that even the smallest atom helium cannot pass through it.
Tagging Via DNA Embedded In Plastics
27 April 2013, 16:32
Categories: bionanotech--nanobiotech nanocomposites
DNA is a molecule that encodes all the information needed to generate living systems and make them function. But, like any code, it can be used to store any sort of content such as the product information or owner identification for security tagging, and so scientists are looking at how DNA might offer a new tamper-resistant route to label products with detailed information buried within the object itself or its packaging.
To this end, researchers from ETH Zurich bonded DNA to SiO2 nanoparticles, and then coated them with a protective layer of silica, which allowed the molecule to be embedded within plastics during high temperature processing with no degradation. They recreated the effect of ancient DNA protection in permafrost samples or in desiccated form from amber and from avian eggshell fossils where DNA has been separated from harsh environmental factors over thousands of years and remained intact. So information encoded into DNA can now be stored in any sort of plastic from coatings to packaging to the product itself.
Titania Photocatalytic Tiles Break Down Pollutants
27 April 2013, 16:11
Categories: designers self-cleaning
Prosolve370e is a decorative architectural tile that can effectively reduce air pollution in cities when installed near traffic ways or on building facades. The tiles are coated with titanium dioxide (TiO2) particles, a photocatalytic material that uses sunlight to break down VOCs and other pollutants. Employing a unique configuration of this technology, the tiles neutralize air pollutants when sited near traffic or densely polluted conditions.
Printing Self-Folding Synthetic Tissues
24 April 2013, 21:55
Categories: bionanotech--nanobiotech smt-polymorphic-shape-shifters
Oxford University scientists have built a custom, programmable 3D printer that can create materials similar to living tissues. The new material consists of thousands of connected water droplets, encapsulated within lipid films, which can perform some of the functions of the cells inside our bodies. These printed droplet networks could be the building blocks of a new kind of technology for delivering drugs and could potentially replace or interface with damaged human tissues.
Because the droplet networks are entirely synthetic, have no genome, and do not replicate, they avoid some of the problems associated with other approaches to creating artificial tissues – such as those that use stem cells. The droplet networks can fold themselves into different shapes, powered by osmolarity differences that generate water transfer between droplets.
Nanoparticles Show Promise As Scintillators That Detect Nuclear Radiation
24 April 2013, 21:47
Categories: smt-luminescent-light-emit sensors
A team of industrial researchers, along with scientists from UNLV and Georgia Tech, has shown that nanoparticles with sizes smaller than 10 nanometers can be successfully incorporated into scintillation devices capable of detecting and measuring a wide energy range of X-rays and gamma rays emitted by nuclear materials.
The proof-of-concept study suggests that “nanocrystals” – nanoparticles clustered together to mimic the densely-packed crystals traditionally used in scintillation devices – may one day yield radiation detectors that are easy and inexpensive to manufacture, can be produced quickly in large quantities, are less fragile, and capture most of the X-ray and gamma ray energies needed to identify radioactive isotopes.
Earlier studies have shown that when X-rays or gamma rays strike these miniature, non-crystalline scintillators, some atoms within them are raised to a higher energy level. These atoms de-excite and give off their energy as optical photons in the visible and near-visible regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. The photons can be converted to electrical pulses, which, in turn, can be measured to quantify the X-ray and gamma radiation detected and help locate its source.
In the latest experiment, the researchers suspended nanoparticles of lanthanum halide and cerium tribromide (loaded in both 5 percent and 25 percent concentrations) in oleic acid to create nanocomposite scintillators with sizes between 2-5 nanometers. When compared to computer models and data from prior studies, the nanocomposite detectors matched up well in their ability to discern X-rays and gamma radiation. When compared to an existing radiation detection system of similar size that uses plastic, the 25 percent loaded nanocomposite fared better than the 5 percent loaded, but still was only about half as efficient. Therefore, the researchers conclude that more work is needed to refine and optimize their “nanocrystal” system.