Microscale reactor technology has tremendous advantage over conventional macro-scale or batch chemical processes, and offers versatility for a wide range of applications including chemical analyses, drug discovery, radiotracer synthesis, and the fabrication of engineered nanomaterials. Attention is currently focused on developing scaleable process regimes, using an approach engineers call numbering up. Microreactor technology is defined by a series of interconnected, functionally distinct channels formed on a planar surface, utilizing either hydrodynamic or (EOF) for pumping, with channel dimensions typically between 10-300 microns.
Among many nanomaterials with distinct geometric shapes, spheres and cubes are the two simplest forms, yet they possess the highest symmetries. One of the obvious geometric merits of this class of materials is their low resistivity under fluidic conditions, as they can be essentially considered as zero-dimensional entities when their size is trimmed down to the nanoscale regime. So far, most hollow interiors of nanomaterials are created by template-methods. Researchers in Singapore for the first time demonstrated that nanostructured polyhedrons of functional materials with desired interiors can be synthesized template-free through a simple hydrothermal method.
Conventionally, the fabrication of thin film nanostructures is primarily done by using selective etching or templating growth on a prepatterned resist and then performing lift-off. The solvents used in developing resist are typically toxic and add to the cost of lithographic processing. Recently, many environmentally friendly lithographic processes have been designed using either a water-based solution or supercritical carbon dioxide to develop the resist. A novel pure water developable spin-coatable lanthanum strontium manganese oxide (LSMO) resist has been developed by scientists in Taiwan. The use of pure water instead of organic or alkaline solvents would undoubtedly be not only environmentally desirable but also could greatly simplify the imaging process.
Current production methods for carbon nanotubes result in units with different diameter, length, chirality and electronic properties, all packed together in bundles, and often blended with some amount of amorphous carbon. The separation of nanotubes according to desired properties remains a technical challenge. Especially single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT) sorting is a challenge because the composition and chemical properties of SWCNTs of different types are very similar, making conventional separation techniques inefficient.
Encapsulating metal nanoparticles inside carbon shells is of considerable significance but fraught with high manufacturing cost due to high energy consumption and intensive use of hardware. This cost issue limits their practical applications. Researchers in China have developed a novel, simple, efficient, and economical synthesis technique for the fabrication of carbon-encapsulated nanostructures where the carbonization is conducted at a relatively low temperature of 160C in water and no toxic reagents are added. This new technique is facile and versatile, and suitable for the coating of other transition metal with carbon.
A new study by Swedish researchers shows that gold nano spheres with a diameter of 7 nm, produced in a conventional laboratory surrounding, activate human antigen presenting dendritic cells (DCs) to induce proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), mixed with either allergenic or autologous DCs. This effect was found to be due to endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS) contamination of the nanoparticles. When particles were produced in a controlled way eliminating endotoxin contamination, the activation of the DCs did not take place.
With the recent development in nanoscience and nanotechnology, a large variety of single-component nanomaterials (such as carbon nanotubes, nanoparticles, and quantum dots) and devices have been reported. There is now a pressing need to integrate multicomponent nanoscale entities into multifunctional systems and to connect these nano-systems to the micro/macro-world. This connection from the nano world to the macro world has been one of the long-standing problems in nanotechnology and still remains a big challenge. A novel approach of growing aligned carbon nanotubes (CNTs) around microsized carbon fibers should provide a useful platform technology for the development of various multidimensional and multifunctional nanomaterials and devices.
Researchers in Japan have synthesized novel silica fibers. Unlike any previously reported one-dimensional silica nano- and microstructures, the novel fibers display a triangular cross-section, which is not typical for amorphous materials. These prism-like silica fibers open up a new morphological type of silicon-based materials which may have highly promising potentials. They may be of significant interest for optoelectronic applications and the improvement of SnO2 chemical sensors and catalysts.