The realization of a three-dimensional atomic force microscopy portends exciting research directions across nanoscience and nanotechnology. Demonstrations to date have been limited by the indirect means that are required to extract a three-dimensional force vector from the traditional 1D observable in AFM (i.e., cantilever deflection). Existing 3D AFM techniques require recording thousands of frequency shift curves at different lateral locations followed by off-line integration (to yield energy) and lateral differentiation (to yield lateral force). This procedure is inherently slow. In new work, researchers now report 3D force measurements based on a 3D local observable, rather than on cantilever deflection alone.
Graphene-based nanomaterials have many promising applications in energy-related areas. In particular, there are four major energy-related areas where graphene will have an impact: solar cells, supercapacitors, lithium-ion batteries, and catalysis for fuel cells. Graphene could be a promising replacement material for indium tin oxide. A recent review provides an overview of research on graphene and its derivatives, with a particular focus on synthesis, properties, and applications in solar cells.
Covetics - this new class of materials marks a game-changer for engineers and designers that have long sought to combine high-strength carbon with metal in their pursuit to improve metal's performance. For the first time the hybrid fuses nanocarbons and metal in a bond that is stronger than graphene-like sp2 carbon bonds. To create covetics, its inventors developed a new method of carbon catalyzation which uses molten metal and metal alloys as an ionizing medium. Nanocarbon structures form in situ while bonding to the metal ionizing medium.
Researchers 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.
It 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.
Heat 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.
The 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.
Over 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.