Category Archives: nanomaterials

Nanotechnology helps scientists make bendy sensors for hydrogen vehicles

In recent years, Americans have been intrigued by the promise of hydrogen-powered vehicles. But experts have judged that several technology problems must be resolved before they are more than a novelty.

Recently, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have used their insights into nanomaterials to create bendy hydrogen sensors, which are at the heart of hydrogen fuel cells used in hydrogen vehicles.

 

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Self-assembled nanostructures function better than bone as porosity increases

Naturally occurring structures like birds’ bones or tree trunks are thought to have evolved over eons to reach the best possible balance between stiffness and density. But in a June paper in Nature Materials, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico (UNM), in conjunction with researchers at Case Western Reserve and Princeton Universities, show that nanoscale materials self-assembled in artificially determined patterns can improve upon nature’s designs. 

 On the left is a TEM micrograph of a porous cube-like nanostructure. On the right is a blow-up of the silica framework (the dark 2-nm thick regions on the left side figure) based on modeling. The highlighted structures represent the small rings refer ...

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Tomorrow’s green nanofactories

Viruses are notorious villains. They cause serious human diseases like AIDS, polio, and influenza, and can lead to system crashes and data loss in computers.

A new podcast explores how nanotechnology researcher Angela Belcher, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is working with viruses to make them do good things. By exploiting a virus’s ability to replicate rapidly and combine with semiconductor and electronic materials, she is coaxing them to grow and self-assemble nanomaterials into a functional electronic device. Through this marriage of nanotechnology with green chemistry, Belcher and her team are working toward building faster, better, cheaper and environmentally-friendly transistors, batteries, solar cells, diagnostic materials for detecting cancer, and semiconductors for use in modern electrical devices—everything from computers to cell phones.

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Carbon nanotubes endure heavy wear and tear

The ability of carbon nanotubes to withstand repeated stress yet retain their structural and mechanical integrity is similar to the behavior of soft tissue, according to a new study from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

When paired with the strong electrical conductivity of carbon nanotubes, this ability to endure wear and tear, or fatigue, suggests the materials could be used to create structures that mimic artificial muscles or interesting electro-mechanical systems, researchers said.

 

 

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Scientists track remarkable ‘breathing’ in nanoporous materials

Scientists all over the world are participating in the quest of new materials with properties suitable for the environmentally friendly and economically feasible separation, recovery, and reuse of vapours and greenhouse gases. A team of scientists from France, UK and the ESRF have recently discovered an unprecedented giant and reversible swelling of nanoporous materials with exceptional properties: huge flexibility and profound selectivity. Their results were recently published in Science.

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Inexpensive ‘nanoglue’ can bond nearly anything together

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new method to bond materials that don’t normally stick together. The team’s adhesive, which is based on self-assembling nanoscale chains, could impact everything from next-generation computer chip manufacturing to energy production.

Less than a nanometer – or one billionth of a meter – thick, the nanoglue is inexpensive to make and can withstand temperatures far higher than what was previously envisioned. In fact, the adhesive’s molecular bonds strengthen when exposed to heat.

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New nanocomposite processing technique creates more powerful capacitors

A new technique for creating films of barium titanate (BaTiO3) nanoparticles in a polymer matrix could allow fabrication of improved capacitors able to store twice as much energy as existing devices. The improved capacitors could be used in consumer devices such as cellular telephones – and in defense applications requiring both high energy storage and rapid current discharge.
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