The field of single-molecule magnets is very promising, since an individual magnetic molecule represent the ultimate size limit to store and processing information. Magnetic molecules are considered very promising for spintronics since they can store a bit of information in an extremely small volume. However, in order to make magnetic molecules work, one has to find a way to measure their magnetization. Usual approaches are often very invasive and may lead to a strong perturbation of the properties of the molecules. A European research team has now designed and realized a novel hybrid spintronic nanodevice where the state of the molecule is measured 'indirectly', through a sensor coupled with the molecule.
The efforts undertaken in developing renewable energy sources to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels include major research and investment in advanced electricity storage technologies. Among the various existing technologies, lithium batteries are considered as the most competitive power source because of their high energy density, superior power capability, design flexibility and longer lifespan. This article provides an overview of the current patent landscape of rechargeable Li-ion battery, with a focus on the recent developments on nanomaterials and nanotechnologies used for anode, cathode, and electrolyte materials, and the impact of nanomaterials on the performance of rechargeable lithium batteries. Effort has also been taken to identify key players, emerging trends and applications in this area.
There has been tremendous interest in cloaking technology using metamaterials and there are two exciting possibilities to obtain drastic scattering reduction from moderately-sized objects. One is the concept of plasmonic cloaking, which is based on the use of a thin metamaterial cover to suppress the scattering from a passive object. The second one is the concept of mantle cloaking, which is based on a simple impedance surface to achieve similar effects. Now, new research shows that even a single layer of atoms, with the exciting conductivity properties of graphene, may achieve similar functionality in planar and cylindrical geometries. Once realized, this concept represents the 'thinnest' possible cloak, operating in the THz spectrum.
Nanoindentation is derived from the classical hardness test but is carried out on a much smaller scale. It can be used to determine the hardness of thin layers as well as material properties such as elasticity, stiffness, plasticity, and tensile strength, or fracture toughness of small objects and microsystems in fields such as biotechnology. These measurements involve applying a small force to a sample using a sharp probe and measuring the resultant penetration depth. The measured value is used to calculate the contact area and hence the particular property of the sample material. Both the method of force application and the geometry of the indentation tip can be adjusted to suit the particular application.
Notwithstanding all the buzz about renewable energy sources, the dirty facts are that coal accounts for 41% of electricity production worldwide. Since, realistically, coal will be a mainstay of electricity generation for many years to come, research into more environmentally friendly use of coal energy is picking up steam. One technology for more efficient power production centers around the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). Especially gasified carbon fuel cells offer great prospects for the most efficient utilization of a wide variety of carbonaceous solids fuels, including coal, biomass, and municipal solid waste. Researchers have now developed a self-cleaning technique that could allow solid oxide fuel cells to be powered directly by coal gas at operating temperatures as low as 750 degrees Celsius.
One enabling technology for printed and flexible electronics devices is the use of a special silver nanoparticle ink that allow the patterning of silver microelectrodes by omnidirectional printing. Taking an important step towards enabling desktop manufacturing - or personal fabrication - using very low cost, ubiquitous printing tools, researchers have now demonstrated a pen-on-paper approach as a low-cost, portable fabrication route for printed electronic and optoelectronic devices. The team demonstrates the fabrication of electronic art, flexible displays, conductive text, and radio frequency antennas with their technique. The printed features can withstand repeated bending and folding while maintaining high conductivity.
Among various technologies, reverse osmosis membranes have been widely used for water reclamation. However, external energy required and high operational pressure used make reverse osmosis membrane water reclamation processes energy intensive - not exactly an advantage given the rising cost of energy and the negative climate impact of fossil fuels. Today, forward osmosis is a well-recognized osmotic process for producing clean water with a bright future as it uses a natural phenomenon and does not require any operational pressure hence it saves large amount of energy compared with reverse osmosis process. Researchers now describe a novel forward osmosis membrane that presents remarkable properties superior over conventional membrane support layers.
It is not often that the prefix multipliers kilo and nano come together, and when they do, it usually is in the opening chapters of physical sciences textbooks where the point is made that the universe around us spans enormous space and time scales while operating in unimaginably small ones. We are truly awestruck and inspired by the tension. Kilometer-long nanowires do have a similar eponymous echo. Researchers have now reported the first successful fabrication of arrays of millions of ordered indefinitely long nanowires and nanotubes in a flexible polymer fiber. The results are kilometer-long nanowires - a novel approach to nanowire fabrication that might bring with it fresh solutions.