Nanotechnology Spotlight – Latest Articles

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Showing Spotlights 1 - 8 of 550 in category All (newest first):


Upcycling strategy turns discarded solar cells into thermoelectrics

solar-cell-wasteResearchers estimate that global PV module waste, 90% of which are made from crystalline silicon, will reach 1.7-1.8 million tonnes by 2030 and 60-78 million tonnes by 2050, which will likely reach the same order of magnitude as global electronic waste. A novel upcycling strategy adds value to this otherwise economically low-value waste silicon. With proper chemical doping, it allows silicon waste to be turned into high-performance thermoelectrics for heat energy harvesting.

May 16th, 2022

Kirigami-style, self-folding circuit boards

cubic-PCBResearchers demonstrate rapid cutting and folding of a printed circuit board (PCB) into complex 3D electronics using only a simple laser cutter. This origami manufacturing technology has the potential to allow faster and cheaper production of 3D electronic devices based on thin shells such as antennas that are poorly suited for current 3D printing methods. The technique relies on a method known as laser forming, where heat from a focused laser generates bending within a target.

Mar 22nd, 2022

High-comfort smart face mask checks for proper fit and monitors coughs

face-maskResearchers have developed a multifunctional wireless smart mask, capable of identifying mask-wearing conditions and monitoring the frequency and pattern of coughing - which is a common symptom of many respiratory diseases. This novel smart mask is capable of simultaneously monitoring coughs and mask-wearing conditions in a remote and battery-free manner, and most importantly, it provides excellent wearing comfort and breathability. The mask fabric is embedded with a soft and battery-free radio-frequency harmonic transponder that enables continuous, real-time wireless monitoring of coughs and mask wearing.

Mar 21st, 2022

Nanotechnology for face masks

face-masksSince the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, researchers have intensified their efforts to improve the performance of antiviral and antibacterial face masks by adding various functionalities such as metal nanoparticles and herbal extracts to inactivate pathogens, using graphene to make masks photothermal and superhydrophobic, and even using triboelectric nanogenerators to prolong mask lifetime. Based on these works, manufacturers have developed different mask styles and air filtration materials using various nanomaterials.

Mar 14th, 2022

Materials design for atmospheric water harvesting

water-harvestingScientists estimate that at any one instant, the Earth's atmosphere contains about 12 900 cubic kilometers of water vapor. Extracting water from the air, that is, atmospheric water harvesting(AWH), becomes a promising alternative technology to produce freshwater. Atmospheric water harvesting can be achieved through three different approaches: fog collection, dew harvesting, and sorbent-based AWH. Here is a review of the recent materials engineering-enabled water management strategies for improving AWH performance at different working conditions (i.e., saturated humidity, dew point, and unsaturated humidity).

Feb 24th, 2022

Fabrication of perovskite solar cells with just a piece of paper? A new method tells you how! (w/video)

flexible-photovoltaicsPerovskite semiconductor solar cells are a very exciting photovoltaic technology possessing similar efficiencies to silicon but cast or printed in thin films via liquid inks. Researchers have developed a new method that uses a simple sheet of paper to deposit the perovskite films that does without any expensive equipment. The trick to achieve high performance with this remarkably cheap method is to soak the paper applicator in anti-solvent which almost doubles efficiencies compared to when using it dry, reaching 11% on flexible plastic substrates.

Feb 15th, 2022

Optimizing methods for stable storage of nucleic acid nanoparticles and their transportation at ambient temperatures

nucleic-acid-nanoparticleNucleic acid nanoparticles (NANPs) have found success in a variety of biochemical applications ranging from nanoscaffolds for coordinated delivery of multiple therapeutic nucleic acids (TNAs) to potent immunoregulators and biosensors. Despite their potential, the true viability of NANPs and TNAs is limited by their relative chemical instability and sensitivity to higher temperatures. Shipping and transportation of NANPs and TNAs currently relies on a cold-chain storage. Newly developed methods could reduce the need for cold chain storage and dramatically improve vaccine shelf life.

Feb 10th, 2022

On route to 3D printing with atomic resolution (w/video)

stacked-grapheneWhen two or more 2D materials are placed on top of each other their properties change and a material with novel hybrid properties emerges. These materials are called van der Waals heterostructures. By stacking free-standing membranes under observation in an electron microscope, researchers have demonstrated almost arbitrary 3D structures by stacking atomically thin materials, similar to a 3D printing process, where each atomic layer can be chosen from the vast library of available 2D materials.

Feb 7th, 2022