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Archive for the ‘materials’ category: Page 114

Sep 12, 2015

How curly nanowires can absorb more light to power nanoscale electronic circuits

Posted by in categories: electronics, energy, materials, nanotechnology, solar power, sustainability

This illustration shows a prototype device comprising bare nanospring photodetectors placed on a glass substrate, with metal contacts to collect charges (credit: Tural Khudiyev and Mehmet Bayindir/Applied Optics)

Researchers from Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, have shown that twisting straight nanowires into springs can increase the amount of light the wires absorb by up to 23 percent. Absorbing more light is important because one application of nanowires is turning light into electricity, for example, to power tiny sensors instead of requiring batteries.

If nanowires are made from a semiconductor like silicon, light striking the wire will dislodge electrons from the crystal lattice, leaving positively charged “holes” behind. Both the electrons and the holes move through the material to generate electricity. The more light the wire absorbs; the more electricity it generates. (A device that converts light into electricity can function as either a solar cell or a photosensor.)

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Sep 8, 2015

Lipid DNA origami may lead to advanced future nanomachines

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, materials, nanotechnology

Using a double layer of lipids facilitates assembly of DNA origami nanostructures, bringing us one step closer to future DNA nanomachines, as in this artist’s impression (credit: Kyoto University’s Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences)

Kyoto University scientists in Japan have developed a method for creating larger 2-D self-assembling DNA origami nanostructures.

Current DNA origami methods can create extremely small two- and three-dimensional shapes that could be used as construction material to build nanodevices, such as nanomotors, in the future for targeted drug delivery inside the body, for example. KurzweilAI recently covered advanced methods developed by Brookhaven National Laboratory and Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute.

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Sep 8, 2015

Nanotubes open new path toward quantum information technologies

Posted by in categories: computing, materials, nanotechnology, quantum physics, security

“Beyond implementation of quantum communication technologies, nanotube-based single photon sources could enable transformative quantum technologies including ultra-sensitive absorption measurements, sub-diffraction imaging, and linear quantum computing. The material has potential for photonic, plasmonic, optoelectronic, and quantum information science applications…”


In optical communication, critical information ranging from a credit card number to national security data is transmitted in streams of laser pulses. However, the information transmitted in this manner can be stolen by splitting out a few photons (the quantum of light) of the laser pulse. This type of eavesdropping could be prevented by encoding bits of information on quantum mechanical states (e.g. polarization state) of single photons. The ability to generate single photons on demand holds the key to realization of such a communication scheme.

By demonstrating that incorporation of pristine into a silicon dioxide (SiO2) matrix could lead to creation of solitary oxygen dopant state capable of fluctuation-free, room-temperature single , Los Alamos researchers revealed a new path toward on-demand single photon generation. Nature Nanotechnology published their findings.

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Sep 2, 2015

NASA created a material that can heal itself in seconds—even from bullets

Posted by in categories: materials, space

It could save the lives of tomorrow’s astronauts.

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Aug 31, 2015

‘Decorated’ graphene is a superconductor

Posted by in category: materials

Lithium-doped graphene turns out to be a conventional superconductor with a transition temperature of 5.9 K.


Depositing lithium on 2D material generates Cooper pairs.

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Aug 29, 2015

David Hanson: We are close to building the first sentient robot

Posted by in categories: energy, materials, robotics/AI

Hanson would be unimpressed by my use of the word “it” to describe his robots, though. His latest creations, Han and Sophia, are “he” and “she” respectively. And Hanson believes that the latter model will become the “first sentient robot, the first one to achieve human-like consciousness.”

This is because Sophia is smaller in size – all of her mechanisms fit inside a smaller chassis. This is beneficial for two reasons: she costs less to make in terms of materials and it takes her less energy to make facial expressions and move around.

“Because of this, she can make more of a difference in the world,” Hanson explains. He adds:

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Aug 28, 2015

Terminator-style ‘skin’ quickly repairs itself after a gunshot | New Scientist

Posted by in categories: habitats, materials, space

Other self-healing plastics exist, but they take much longer to repair themselves. The ability to instantly plug holes could be especially useful to protect structures in space, where flying objects can puncture spacecraft or orbiting habitats. The plastic could be incorporated into their walls, creating a seal if the atmosphere inside a vessel starts to leak out, putting astronauts at risk.

Other fabrics take a different approach: stopping projectiles altogether. A futuristic tissue combining human skin cells with spider silk can cushion a gunshot when fired at half speed. Pure graphene, which is made up of layers of carbon one-atom thick, is being investigated for use in bulletproof armour because it can handle blows better than steel.

Continue reading “Terminator-style 'skin' quickly repairs itself after a gunshot | New Scientist” »

Aug 28, 2015

Physics-Astronomy: NASA’s Warp-Drive Solution for Faster-Than-Light Space Travel

Posted by in categories: materials, space travel, time travel

Agreeing to state-of-the art theory, a warp drive might cut the travel time between stars from tens of thousands of years to only weeks or months. Harold G. White, a physicist and innovative propulsion engineer at NASA and other NASA engineers are working to regulate whether faster-than-light travel — warp drive — might soon be possible. The group is trying to some extent warp the course of a photon, altering the distance it travels in a definite area, and then detecting the change with a device called an interferometer.

In 1994, a Mexican physicist, Miguel Alcubierre, speculated that faster-than-light speeds were conceivable in a technique that did not deny Einstein by binding the growth and reduction of space itself. Under Dr. Alcubierre’s theory, a ship still couldn’t surpass light speed in a native region of space. But a theoretical thrust system he sketched out operated space-time by producing a so-called “warp bubble” that would inflate space on one side of a spacecraft and contract it on another.

Image source: With thanks to Shutterstock.com.

Continue reading “Physics-Astronomy: NASA's Warp-Drive Solution for Faster-Than-Light Space Travel” »

Aug 27, 2015

Electrical circuit made of gel can repair itself

Posted by in categories: electronics, energy, materials, robotics/AI

(Phys.org)—Scientists have fabricated a flexible electrical circuit that, when cut into two pieces, can repair itself and fully restore its original conductivity. The circuit is made of a new gel that possesses a combination of properties that are not typically seen together: high conductivity, flexibility, and room-temperature self-healing. The gel could potentially offer self-healing for a variety of applications, including flexible electronics, soft robotics, artificial skins, biomimetic prostheses, and energy storage devices.

The researchers, led by Guihua Yu, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin, have published a paper on the new self-healing in a recent issue of Nano Letters.

The new gel’s properties arise from its hybrid composition of two gels: a supramolecular gel, or ‘supergel’, is injected into a conductive polymer hydrogel matrix. As the researchers explain, this “guest-to-host” strategy allows the chemical and physical features of each component to be combined.

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Aug 26, 2015

This startup can grow metal like a tree, and it’s about to hit the big time

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, materials

A little know startup in Seattle could do for metal what 3D printing is doing for other materials like plastic.

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