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Nanotechnology Spotlight

Behind the buzz and beyond the hype:
Our Nanowerk-exclusive feature articles

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Showing Spotlights 137 - 144 of 1684 in category (newest first):

 

Increasing solar cell efficiency limit by 'heating up' 'cold' photons

sunshineThe quest for efficient low-cost solutions for solar energy conversion faces many obstacles, both, fundamental and technical. As a result, even 'ideal' solar cells have maximum intrinsic efficiency - known as the Shockley-Queisser (S-Q) limit - of 33% for the illumination by the non-concentrated sunlight. A number of architectures have been proposed for reducing losses in solar cells in order to overcome the S-Q single-junction limit. Now, researchers have proposed a new way to break the fundamental S-Q limit by using a mechanism of thermal up-conversion.

Posted: Dec 5th, 2013

Vanadium disulfide - a promising new monolayer material for Li-ion batteries

2d_vanadium_disulfideAs researchers continue to develop the use of graphene in energy storage devices, other two-dimensional (2D) inorganic materials like 2D transition metal disulfides have attracted extensive scientific attention. Vanadium disulfide few-layered nanosheets have been recently achieved experimentally, and in new work, scientists systematically investigated the adsorption and diffusion of lithium on the recently synthesized vanadium disulfide monolayer in comparison with MoS2 monolayer and graphite.

Posted: Dec 3rd, 2013

Microscale garbage truck cleans polluted water

micromotorThe construction of artificial micro- and nanomotors is a high priority in the nanotechnology field owing to their great potential for diverse potential applications, ranging from targeted drug delivery, on-chip diagnostics and biosensing, or pumping of fluids at the microscale to environmental remediation. In new work, researchers have now reported the first example of micromotors for the active degradation of organic pollutants in solution. The novelty of this work lies in the synergy between internal and external functionality of the micromotors.

Posted: Dec 2nd, 2013

Ultrafast graphene sensor monitors your breath while you speak

breath_sensorFunctionalized graphene holds exceptional promise for biological and chemical sensors. In new work, researchers have shown that the distinctive 2D structure of graphene oxide, combined with its superpermeability to water molecules, leads to sensing devices with an unprecedented speed. The team reports the experimental observation of the unparalleled response speed of humidity sensors based on graphene oxide, which are - to the best of the scientists' knowledge - the fastest humidity sensors ever reported.

Posted: Nov 27th, 2013

A new type of optical sensing device based on artificial metamaterials

metamaterialOver the past decade, electromagnetic metamaterials have become an extremely active field of research in both the physics and the engineering communities. Metamaterials gain their properties from their structure rather than directly from their composition and show the peculiarity of having an index of refraction at optical frequencies from negative to very high positive values. Researchers have now suggested a new type of optical sensing device based on artificial metamaterials with topological darkness.

Posted: Nov 26th, 2013

Nanotechnology for self-powered systems

nanogeneratorThere is an almost infinite number of mechanical energy sources all around us - basically, anything that moves can be harvested for energy. These environmental energy sources can the very large, like wave power in the oceans, or very small, like rain drops or biomechanical energy from heart beat, breathing, and blood flow. With the increasing use of nanotechnology materials and applications in energy research, scientists are finding more and more ways to tap into these pretty much limitless sources of energy. Self-powered nanotechnology based on piezoelectric nanogenerators aims at powering nanodevices and nanosystems using the energy harvested from the environment in which these systems are suppose to operate.

Posted: Nov 19th, 2013

Electronic skin - a primer

electronic_skinAdvances in materials, fabrication strategies and device designs for flexible and stretchable electronics and sensors make it possible to envision a not-too-distant future where ultra-thin, flexible circuits based on inorganic semiconductors can be wrapped and attached to any imaginable surface, including body parts and even internal organs. Robotic technologies will also benefit as it becomes possible to fabricate electronic skin ('e-skin') that, for instance, could allow surgical robots to interact, in a soft contacting mode, with their surroundings through touch.

Posted: Nov 15th, 2013

Medical microrobots to deliver drugs on demand (w/video)

microrobotAdvances in micro- and nanoscale engineering in the medical field have led to the development of various robotic designs that one day will allow a new level of minimally invasive medicine. These micro- and nanorobots will be able to reach a targeted area, provide treatments and therapies for a desired duration, measure the effects and, at the conclusion of the treatment, be removed or degrade without causing adverse effects. Ideally, all these tasks would be automated but they could also be performed under the direct supervision and control of an external user.

Posted: Nov 13th, 2013