Nanotechnology Spotlight – Latest Articles

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The first optical nanomanipulator on solid substrates

photon-nudgingResearchers show that by introducing a surfactant layer to modify the particle-substrate interactions, a variety of colloidal particles can be manipulated in a non-invasive and contactless way through coordinating optical heating and scattering forces. This novel technique provides a versatile and powerful platform to manipulate and reconfigurably assemble colloidal particles on solid substrates, without the need to involve fluidic environments. This technique represents a milestone in pushing the working conditions of optical tweezers from fluidic to solid phases, which is capable of versatile manipulation and dynamic assembly of colloidal nanostructures on solid substrates directly.

Dec 13th, 2019

Morphable metamaterials made with hierarchical kirigami

kirigamiResearchers have identified kirigami as an intriguing tool to create programmable mechanical metamaterials with unconventional mechanical and morphological responses. These reconfigurable metamaterials offer a new material platform to achieve dramatic changes of mechanical and optical properties, which are arising from dynamically tunable geometrical structures. A key feature of kirigami metamaterials is that they are conveniently cut when flat and then exploit local elastic instabilities to transform into complex 3D configurations upon stretching.

Dec 12th, 2019

Metal-organic frameworks as high-performance water desalination membranes

desalinationReverse osmosis (RO) is one of the most effective desalination technologies for producing freshwater from seawater. The reverse osmosis membrane water reclamation processes is very energy intensive - not exactly an advantage given the rising cost of energy and the negative climate impact of fossil fuels. In a new study, researchers found that metal-organic frameworks (MOF) allow higher water flux compared to other 2D materials while rejecting almost 100% of unwanted ions.

Dec 11th, 2019

Nanoengineering: The skills and tools making technology invisible

molecular-layersNanoengineering is a branch of engineering that exploits the unique properties of nanomaterials - their size and quantum effects - and the interaction between these materials, in order to design and manufacture novel structures and devices that possess entirely new functionality and capabilities, which are not obtainable by macroscale engineering. The book 'Nanoengineering: The Skills and Tools Making Technology Invisible' puts a spotlight on some of the scientists who are pushing the boundaries of technology and it gives examples of their work and how they are advancing knowledge one little step at a time.

Dec 4th, 2019

Transforming the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into graphene

grapheneResearchers have produced graphene by molten carbonate electrolytic splitting of CO2 to a nano-thin carbon product (carbon nanoplatelets) comprised of 25 to 125 graphene layers, and subsequent electrochemical exfoliation of the nanoplatelets to graphene in a carbonate soluble aqueous solution. The sole products of the carbon dioxide electrolysis are straightforward: high yield carbon nanoplatelets and oxygen. The carbon nanoplatelets provide a thinner starting point than a conventional graphite reactant to facilitate electrochemical exfoliation.

Dec 2nd, 2019

Observing flow distribution over curved surfaces

flow-sensorResearchers have demonstrated the first large-scale flexible thermal flow sensor array on a thin-film. This flow sensor - based on a calorimetric sensing mechanism - can not only monitor flow intensity but also flow direction. More importantly, these sensors can be attached onto curved surfaces for real-time flow monitoring. Flow separation is a common phenomenon affecting aircraft, wind turbine blades, micro aerials, and underwater vehicles. Owing to its unsteady flow profile, such separation is usually undesirable because either the airfoil efficiency decreases or large pressure fluctuations emerge. Consequently, precise monitoring is crucial to reduce or even prevent the flow separation effect.

Nov 26th, 2019

From origin of life to materials genomics

microbubbleThe origin of early life and the basic building blocks such as DNA and RNA have been hypothesized to have resulted due to accumulation of precursors within hydrothermal vents. The thermal gradients result in the concentration of prebiotic molecules with the vents acting as reactors. Researchers have translated this concept of accumulation-mediated concentration to the micro- and nanoscale for intensified materials synthesis and genomics. Utilizing a laser-induced micro bubble trap, their strategy, termed as unified spatiotemporal synthesis and structuring (US3), combines the conventionally discrete aspects of synthesis and patterning.

Nov 19th, 2019

Biliverdin nanoparticles pave the way for biodegradable imaging agents

nanoparticleNanoparticles have shown a lot of promise in biomedical applications. However, accumulation of nanoparticles in the liver is a major concern, and may be one of the greatest barriers to the widespread adoption of nanoparticles in the clinic. This is especially true for metallic nanoparticles, since the long-term effects of their accumulation in the liver has not been widely studied. A team of researchers has looked to nature for inspiration in solving this problem. They decided to use biliverdin, a bile pigment, as the building block for their nanoparticles.

Nov 18th, 2019