If you ever had problems with the (non-removable) battery in your iPhone or iPad then you well know that the energy storage or power source is a key component in a tightly integrated electronic device. Any damage to the power source will usually result in the breakdown of the entire device, generating at best inconvenience and cost and in the worst case a safety hazard and your latest contribution to the mountains of electronic waste. A solution to this problem might now be at hand thanks to researchers in Singapore who have successfully fabricated the first mechanically and electrically self-healing supercapacitor.
Their unique combinations of liquid and solid-like properties allow liquid crystals to be used pervasively in the electro-optical display technology - known as liquid crystal display (LCD). In new work, researchers have observed that a dilute suspension of a small amount of multi-walled carbon nanotubes in a nematic liquid crystal (in the nematic LC phase the molecules are oriented in parallel but not arranged in well-defined planes) results in a significantly faster nematic switching effect on application of an electric field.
Friction is present in numerous physical phenomena occurring at all length scale. About 1/3 of the world's primary energy is dissipated in mechanical friction and 80% of machinery components' failure is caused by wear. Friction and wear will also become bottlenecks for micro-/nano-mechanical systems (MEMS and NEMS) featured with sliding components. Superlubricity, a phenomenon where the friction almost vanishes between two solid surfaces, will be the key to solve these problems and researchers now report a breakthrough in macroscale superlubricity.
Catalysis is one of the most important routines for the production of nanomaterials. The catalysts that are used in these processes play a vital role for the controllable fabrication of nanomaterials with anticipated structures. However, carbon nanotubes grown through routine catalytic chemical vapor deposition have always shown non-carbon impurities. Effective purification of SWCNTs has therefore attracted significant attention from researchers around the world in order to improve the performance of carbon nanotubes, especially in energy storage systems.
Thanks to nanotechnology, medical research is moving quickly towards a future where intelligent medical implants can continuously monitor their condition inside the body and autonomously respond to changes such as infection by releasing anti-inflammatory agents. A recent review discusses present and prospective implantable sensors incorporating nanostructured carbon allotropes. The authors describe various applications with an in-depth look at the implantable sensors from the viewpoints of nanomedicine, materials science, nanobiotechnology, and sensor design, both present and future.
Conventional carbon-fiber electrodes have been the material of choice for identifying the chemical nature of neurotransmitters in the brain. Unfortunately, they have some limitations that leave some of the molecules that researchers are interested in just out of our reach. Further miniaturization of biologically compatible, carbon based electrode materials to the nanoscale promises to enhance the very characteristics that made microelectrodes so transformative in the first place, enabling high speed measurements in discrete spatial locations.
In new work, researchers have demonstrated that flexible cotton threads can be used as a platform to fabricate a cable-type supercapacitor. Wearable electronics will go far beyond just very small electronic devices or wearable, flexible computers. Not only will these devices be embedded in textile substrates but an electronics device or system could ultimately become the fabric itself. Supercapacitors with a cable-type architecture could lead to flexible energy storage devices that can remove traditional restriction and achieve a subversive technology that could open up a path for design innovation.
With the semiconductor industry still on the path of Moore's law, researchers have already been toying with single-molecule electronics and molecular memory to push miniaturization of electronics to its limit. However, with electrical gadgets and devices getting increasingly smaller and functionally more powerful, the current density flowing through the copper and gold conductors in these devices has been exponentially increasing. Therefore, electrical conductors with higher current density tolerance are in huge demand and recent research has addressed this issue.