Industrial production processes, by and large, rely on robotic assembly lines that place, package, and connect a variety of disparate components. While the manufacturing world is dominated by robots, there are applications where the established processes of serial 'pick and place' and manipulation of single objects reach scaling limits in terms of throughput, alignment precision, and the minimal component dimension they can handle effectively. By contrast, the emerging methods of engineered self-assembly are massively parallel and have the potential to overcome these scaling limitations.
Many nanofabrication techniques depend on creating a structure on one substrate and then transferring it via various processes onto another, desired, substrate. Often, these methods are not generally applicable as they suffer from the process-specific drawbacks, such as for instance intolerance of transferred nanostructures to chemical etchant, and the harsh thermal environment needed. A novel universal and rapid method allows transferring nanostructures with various dimensions onto diverse substrates with high fidelity.
Thermoelectric materials hold great promise for turning waste heat back into useful power and are touted for use in hybrid cars, new and efficient refrigerators, and other cooling or heating applications. But they have one big drawback: they are very inefficient. Since thermoelectric devices work by maintaining a temperature difference between their different sides, it is important that the used materials have low conductivity, i.e. are good thermal insulators.
The microstructures of carbon nanotube assemblies determine their properties, for example, highly graphitized CNTs exhibit excellent mechanical and electrical properties; while CNTs with defects and poor crystallinity are beneficial for research on field emission property and hydrogen storage capacity. Therefore, it is of vital importance to control the CNT microstructures effectively for desired applications. A new technique can solve a problem of three-dimensional orientation control of CNTs in microscopic scale.
There are a wide range of passive devices such as beads, wells and tubes that can be used to capture and confine single cells. Previous active cell grippers with moving parts have relied on electrical modalities which can be challenging to implement off-chip and in a highly parallel manner. Researchers have now, for the first time, demonstrated an untethered active microgripper that can be used to capture and contain single cells.
A significant challenge in soft robotics involves fabricating soft sensors and actuators which, so far, have been very tedious to produce. Building soft sensors used by roboticists usually requires a multi-step, manual molding-lamination-sealing-infilling process. As a result, the design and fabrication process is cumbersome; the sensor form factors are unnecessarily limited; and there are issues with mechanical robustness. Now, though, researchers have demonstrated a new method for creating highly stretchable sensors based on embedded 3D printing of a carbon-based resistive ink within an elastomeric matrix.
EUV lithography was first included in the next-generation lithography road maps in the early 90s, but after about 20 years it is not yet ready for prime time. In this article we briefly analyze the history of EUV in the last 2 decades and the situation as of today. Extreme ultraviolet technology posed and still poses formidable challenges as it is based on principles vastly different from conventional DUV (deep ultraviolet) lithography.
Researchers have proposed an alternative way of making graphene from rice husk. This research, using an ordinary synthetic apparatus and abundant agricultural waste, suggest that low cost graphene materials could now be easily and cheaply synthesized on an industrial scale. Due to its abundance, risk husk has already received much attention as a starting material in generating high-value-added materials such as silica and porous carbon.