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Nanotechnology Spotlight

Behind the buzz and beyond the hype:
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Showing Spotlights 129 - 136 of 1649 in category (newest first):


Fuel cells from gelatin

gelatin_bubblesResearchers are working hard to find inexpensive alternatives to platinum catalysts for use in hydrogen fuel cells. Doped carbons were discovered to be a possible alternative to platinum-based materials about five years ago. Researchers have now developed a really simple route to carbon materials that perform almost as well as a commercial platinum/carbon in a key fuel cell reaction. To make these materials, they use gelatin - the same gelatin you'd use to make jelly/jello.

Posted: Oct 7th, 2013

A smart nanothermometer

thermometerIt is a challenge to measure the temperature variation at the surface of nanoparticles under optical illumination since nano-localized temperature variation is the most important parameter for applications ranging from nanomedicine to photonics. In particular, the conversion of light to heat trough the exploitation of the Localized Plasmonic Resonance (LPR) has enabled a remarkable breakthrough in fighting cancer. Now, researchers have advanced the monitoring of nanoscale temperature variations under optical illumination by combining the properties of gold nanorods and the capabilities of thermotropic cholesteric liquid crystals.

Posted: Oct 4th, 2013

On demand nanofin heat sinks for computer chips (w/video)

heat_dissipationHeat has become one of the most critical issues in computer and semiconductor design: The ever increasing number of transistors in computer chips requires more efficient cooling approaches for the hot spots which are generated as a result of the operation of the transistors. Researchers have now demonstrated a microfluidic technique of using thermally conductive and magnetic nanoparticles that can form low-dimensional fins in the vicinity of hot spots. This work is the first ever report on using nanoparticles for making nanofins on demand in microfluidics.

Posted: Oct 3rd, 2013

Direct printing of liquid metal 3D microstructures

3d_printed_metalstructureThe ability to pattern materials into arbitrary 3D microstructures is important for electronics, microfluidic networks, tissue engineering scaffolds, photonic band gap structures, and chemical synthesis. However, existing commercial processes to 3D print metals usually require expensive equipment and large temperatures. In contrast, a novel, relatively simple method can print metal structures at room temperature. This makes the technique it compatible with many other materials including plastics. Also, the resulting structures are liquid and are therefore soft and stretchable.

Posted: Oct 2nd, 2013

Nanotechnology researchers fabricate foldable Li-ion batteries

foldable_batteryOver the past few years, we have seen an explosion of interest in electronic devices based on paper or textile components. These substrates are attractive because they can impart flexibility and low- cost manufacturing to devices such as transistors, circuits, light-emitting diodes, and batteries. They also can be folded. Researchers now have have shown that paper-folding concepts can be applied to Li-ion batteries in order to realize a device with higher areal energy densities.

Posted: Oct 1st, 2013

Nanotechnology approach to corrosion sensing coatings

corrosion_detectionDifferent strategies for creation of self-healing coatings to prevent corrosion degradation have been suggested. The goal is to significantly reduce the maintenance costs in many industrial applications by applying active sensing coatings. Today we look at a novel sensing coating on the basis of nanocapsules containing pH-indicating agent. The main idea of this work is to create a novel active protective coating which is able to indicate when corrosion processes start under the coatings or in different defects.

Posted: Sep 30th, 2013

Making inorganic solar cells with an airbrush spray

sprayThere is currently a tremendous amount of interest in the solution processing of inorganic materials. Low cost, large area deposition of inorganic materials could revolutionize the fabrication of solar cells, LEDs, and photodetectors. The most common methods currently used for film formation are spin coating and dip coating, which provide uniform thin films but limit the geometry of the substrate used in the process. The same nanocrystal solutions used in these procedures can also be sprayed using an airbrush, enabling larger areas and multiple substrates to be covered much more rapidly. The trade-off is the roughness and uniformity of the film, both of which can be substantially higher. Researchers have now attempted to quantify these differences for a single-layer solar cell structure, and found the main difference to be a reduction in the open circuit voltage of the device.

Posted: Sep 25th, 2013

Synaptic electronics

synaptic_computingThe idea of building bio-inspired cognitive adaptive solid-state devices has been around for decades. It forms the basis for synaptic electronics, a field of research that aims to build artificial synaptic devices to emulate the computation performed by biological synapses. Synapses dominate the architecture of the brain and are responsible for massive parallelism, structural plasticity, and robustness of the brain. They are also crucial to biological computations that underlie perception and learning. Therefore, a compact nanoelectronic device emulating the functions and plasticity of biological synapses will be the most important building block of brain-inspired computational systems. Now, a new review looks at the recent progress of synaptic electronics.

Posted: Sep 24th, 2013