Protection against nerve agents - such as tabun, sarin, soman, VX, and others - is a major terrorism concern of security experts. Current methods to detect nerve agents include surface acoustic wave sensors; conducting polymer arrays; vector machines; and the most simple: color change paper sensors. Most of these systems have have certain limitations including low sensitivity and slow response times. Nanoporous material can remove highly toxic nerve agent vapors by physical adsorption. Unfortunately, the broad range of toxic agents, environmental conditions and types of carbonaceous material simply does not allow laboratory testing of every possible combination. New research is now shedding new light on the selection of an optimal nanomaterial for capturing highly volatile nerve agents.
Recent developments in nanotechnology have enabled significant improvement in the field of anti-counterfeiting measures. One company for instance is working on fluorescent nanostructures to improve banknote security; another one has developed DNA tags for deposition on nanoelectronics wafers and computer chips to ensure the integrity and security of processed wafers. DNA-based protection technologies are especially suitable for anti-counterfeiting measures.The DNA molecules are added a products raw material during the production process. Only 1 ppm (one part per million) is required to uniquely mark the material The DNA molecular structure can then be read as a mathematical code based on the four DNA molecules. So a DNA code, in contrast to the binary code used in IT security, is a combination of the letters A, C, G and T. A 10-digit code could look like this: C-G-A-C-T-T-G-A-C-A.
The refractive index is the property of a material that changes the speed of light and describes how light propagates through the material. The refractive index is an important property of solar cells - the higher it is, the more incident light gets reflected and is not converted to a photocurrent. Solar cell manufacturers have developed various kinds of antireflection coatings to reduce the unwanted reflective losses. The purpose of these optical thin-films is to minimize the differences in the refractive indices between the ambient medium and the solar cells. For both solar cells and LEDs, coating with nanoparticles can enhance the performance without harming the electrical properties of the devices, as can occur with etching or lithographic processing. In new work, researchers have now have not only demonstrated this advantageous feature but also provided a strategy for optimizing the types and sizes of nanoparticles for use in both solar cells and LEDs.
When a nanomaterial enters a biological environment, it comes into contact with a complex mixture of proteins. Some of these proteins can adhere to the surface of the nanomaterial, forming a protein 'corona' that influences its subsequent biological interactions. While a number of studies have characterized the protein corona formed around nanomaterials with diameters greater than 10nm, until now, lack of a suitable separation technique has prevented researchers from studying the protein corona formed around 'ultrasmall' nanomaterials. A team of European researchers used electrophoresis to separate ultrasmall nanomaterials from free protein. Applying this technique, they discovered that ultrasmall nanomaterials interact with proteins in a way that is fundamentally different from larger nanomaterials with analogous composition.
The ideal drug carrier may be something out of science fiction. In principle, it is injected into the body and transports itself to the correct target, such as a tumor, and delivers the required dose at this target. This idealized concept was first proposed by Paul Ehrlich at the beginning of the 20th century and was nicknamed the 'magic bullet' concept. With the advent of nanotechnology and nanomedicine this dream is rapidly becoming a reality. Researchers have already demonstrated that unctionalized carbon nanotubes (CNTs) might be able to target specific cells, become ingested, and then release their contents in response to a chemical trigger. A group of researchers has now essentially achieved this goal. They have encapsulated drugs inside carbon nanotubes for drug delivery and shown that these drugs can be released 'on command' by inductive heating with an external alternating current or pulsed magnetic field.
In order to fabricate stimuli-responsive materials, researchers have shown a lot of interest in asymmetric materials such as modulated gels which consist of a controlled layer that is responsive to an environmental stimuli and a nonresponsive substrate layer. And while much effort has gone into creating free-standing films through layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly, relatively little attention has been paid to the asymmetric properties or functionalization of the two surfaces of such free-standing layer-by-layer films. In new work, researchers have now reported the fabrication of asymmetric free-standing layer-by-layer film with asymmetric wettability - one surface is superhydrophobic and the other one is hydrophilic. The superhydrophobic side is water-repellent while the hydrophilic side can absorb/desorb water easily.
Sensitive electronic devices like cell phones and computers require shielding from electromagnetic interference (EMI). Such shielding - which must be electrically conductive - has traditionally been made of metal, which poses a weight problem in the push to miniaturize and lighten electronics. Previous research has already demonstrated that ultra-lightweight carbon nanostructure-based nanocomposite materials outperform conventional metal shielding due to their light weight, resistance to corrosion, flexibility, and processing advantages. In new work, scientists in Korea have now demonstrated that single-layer graphene is an excellent choice of material for high-performance EMI shielding. They found that CVD-synthesized graphene shows more than seven times greater EMI shielding effectiveness (in terms of dB) than gold film of the same thickness.
Nanostructured surfaces with special wetting properties can not only efficiently repel or attract liquids like water and oils but can also prevent formation of biofilms, ice, and other detrimental crystals. Such super- and ultrahydrophobic surfaces also hold the promise of significantly improving performance of condensers, which could boost the efficiency of most power plants in the world. A critical part of designing such surfaces is 'seeing' how water and other liquids interact when in contact with them. Since these surfaces are made of nanostructures, scientists need to use an electron microscope to image these interactions. In new work, researchers have developed a method for directly imaging such interfacial regions with previously unattainable nanoscale resolution.