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Nanotechnology Spotlights

Turning nanoporous metal into a nanopump by electrically controlling surface tension

nanopumpThe capillarity-driven uptake of liquids by porous solids can be experienced in daily life, e.g., when a sponge or fabric absorbs water. This spontaneous imbibition or capillary rise phenomenon is also one of the most vivid manifestations of the capillarity of liquids: surface tension. Researchers have now demonstrated a strategy for achieving control over the imbibition kinetics. They show that this process can be switched...

Posted: Aug 20, 2014

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Self-powered micropumps respond to glucose levels

insulin_pumpResearchers have demonstrated an active glucose-responsive self-powered fluidic pump based on transesterification reaction of acyclic diol boronate with glucose. The scientific principle of the project is to use well-known glucose/boronate chemistry to design a self-powered micropump device. Instead of synthesizing some new molecules with glucose/boronate reaction, a miniature pump utilizes the energy of this chemical reaction...

Posted: Aug 19, 2014

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Direct and label-free discrimination of cytosine and its modifications utilizing silver ions in nanopores

DNACytosine (C) modifications such as 5-methylcytosine (mC) and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (hmC) are important epigenetic markers associated with gene expression and tumorigenesis. However, bisulfite conversion, the gold standard methodology for mC mapping, can not distinguish mC and hmC bases. Recent studies have demonstrated hmC detection via peptide recognizing, enzymes, fluorescence and hmC-specific antibodies - nevertheless,...

Posted: Aug 15, 2014

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Upconverting synthetic leaf takes it cues from nature

synthetic_leafA large part of low-energy photons, such as in the deep-red and infrared, are lost during conventional photovoltaic or photochemical processes. However, about half of all the solar energy reaching the Earth's surface can be found in these wavelengths. Harvesting this light more efficiently is possible thanks to a process called photon energy upconversion. Researchers now have successfully synthesized a bioinspired upconverting...

Posted: Aug 14, 2014

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A convenient method to chemically modify boron nitride nanotubes

boron_nitride_nanotubeSo far, it has been generally accepted knowledge that boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) are highly inert to oxidative treatments and can only be covalently modified by highly reactive species. By contrast, oxidation of carbon nanotubes has been proven very convenient and fundamentally important to modify the nanotube structure and morphology via controlled corrosive effects. Now, researchers have discovered a convenient method...

Posted: Aug 13, 2014

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Detecting damaged DNA with solid-state nanopores

nanoporeDNA is constantly being damaged in our cells by radiation and other random sources. One of the major forms of this damage is called depurination, or the selective loss of A and G bases from the double helix structure. In our cells, there is a system in place to fix depurination. It usually is quite successful at repairing the damage, but can sometimes make mistakes that result in mutations. As a result, depurination is directly...

Posted: Aug 07, 2014

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Crumpled graphene boosts performance of high-energy lithium storage materials

crumpled_grapheneA three-dimensional crumpled graphene-encapsulated nickel sulfide electrode is reported as a superior high-energy lithium storage material. Compared with an electrode without crumpled graphene encapsulation, the optimized electrode yields significant improvements, especially in the cycling stability and rate capability. This enhanced performance is attributed to the 3D framework providing high continuous electron pathway and...

Posted: Aug 06, 2014

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Nitrogen tunes carbon-sulfur interfaces for stable lithium-sulfur batteries

anode_structureSulfur is a very intriguing solution for the design of high energy density storage devices. The lithium-sulfur battery theoretically delivers an energy density which is 3-5 times higher than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Unfortunately, several obstacles so far have prevented the practical demonstration of sulfur-based cathodes for Li-S batteries. Among them, the most important one is the rapid capacity fading. Researchers...

Posted: Aug 05, 2014

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