Surprisingly strong and deformable silicon

EurekAlert  June 10, 2020 Silicon is very brittle which can become a problem when trying to make MEMS from silicon, such as the acceleration sensors in smartphones. Researchers in Switzerland have demonstrated that Si processed by modern lithography procedures exhibits an ultrahigh elastic strain limit, near ideal strength (shear strength ~4 GPa) and plastic deformation at the micron-scale, one order of magnitude larger than samples made using focused ion beams, due to superior surface quality. This extended elastic regime enables enhanced functional properties by allowing higher elastic strains to modify the band structure. Further, the micron-scale plasticity of Si allows the investigation […]

Chemistry breakthrough with nanodroplets could speed up drug development

Nanowerk  May 8, 2020 Researchers in the UK have developed a new method called Encapsulated Nanodroplet Crystallisation (ENaCt), that can set up hundreds of crystallisation experiments within a few minutes. Each experiment involves a few micrograms of molecular analyte dissolved in a few nanolitres of organic solvent. The process is automated allowing for rapid set up of hundreds of unique experiments. Concentration of these nanodroplet experiments results in the growth of the desired high quality single crystals that are suitable for modern X-ray diffraction analysis. Tthe ability to do so with such small quantities of analyte is ground-breaking. The technique has […]

Quickly-grown graphite film blocks electromagnetic radiation

Physics World  April 11, 2020 Techniques for manufacturing graphite films take several hours and require processing temperatures of around 3000°C. Researchers in China produced high-quality graphite film tens of nanometres thick within a few seconds by heating nickel foil to 1200°C in an argon atmosphere and then rapidly immersing this foil in ethanol at 0°C. The carbon atoms produced from the decomposition of ethanol diffuse and dissolve into the nickel because of its high carbon solubility. As this carbon solubility greatly decreases at low temperature, the carbon atoms subsequently segregate and precipitate from the nickel surface during quenching, producing a […]

Scientists electrify aluminum to speed up important process

Science Daily  March 26, 2020 Researchers at Ohio State University describe how to shorten a process to turn one chemical — triphenylphosphine oxide — into another chemical — triphenylphosphine. They showed that the energy needed for the conversion can be generated by sending an electrical charge through an aluminum container. Doing so provides enough energy to allow aluminum to break one of the chemical bonds in triphenylphosphine oxide — essentially, to strip oxygen away from that molecule — and to leave behind just triphenylphosphine. The finding could make several industrial manufacturing processes cheaper and more efficient, make it easier to […]

Buildings grown by bacteria: New research to turn cells into mini-factories for materials  March 24, 2020 Researchers at the university of Colorado have demonstrated that the morphology and nanomechanical properties of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) can be tailored by modulating the precipitation kinetics of ureolytic microorganisms through genetic engineering. They hypothesized that microorganisms genetically engineered for low urease activity would achieve larger calcite crystals with higher moduli. They compared precipitation kinetics, morphology, and nanomechanical properties for biogenic CaCO3 produced by two Escherichia coli (E. coli). Both calcite crystal size and nanoindentation moduli were also significantly higher for the low-urease activity E. coli compared with the high-urease activity E. coli. The relative resistance to […]

Team develops an electrochemical method for extracting uranium, and potentially other metal ions, from solution  January 23, 2020 Carboranes, molecules composed of boron, carbon and hydrogen atoms clustered together in three-dimensional shapes did not work out as rocket engine fuel as expected. According to an international team of researchers (USA – UC Santa Barbara, Israel) carboranes could hold the key to more efficient uranium ion extraction. Key to this technology is the versatility of the cluster molecule which allows for the controlled capture and release of metal ions. They devised a way to reliably and efficiently flip back and forth between open and closed carboranes, using electricity. By applying an electrical potential using an […]

Scientists develop DNA microcapsules with built-in ion channels

Science Daily  September 18, 2019 By utilising DNA nanotechnology, a team of researchers in Japan designed DNA nanoplates as a nanopore device for ion transportation and stabilised the oil–water interface. Microscopic examination revealed the microcapsule formed by the accumulation of amphiphilic DNA nanoplates at the oil–water interface. Ion current measurements revealed the nanoplate pores functioned as channel to transport ions. These findings provide a general strategy for the programmable design of microcapsules to engineer artificial cells and molecular robots. Such systems could be used to develop artificial neural networks…read more. TECHINCAL ARTICLE

Engineers Build a Device That Effectively Transforms CO2 Into Liquid Fuel

Science Alert  September 8, 2019 Usually people reduce carbon dioxide in liquid electrolyte like salty water. The dissolved salts help convert the gas into a molecule that stores energy. Formic acid is sifted out of the thick briny soup. An international team of researchers (USA – Rice University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Saudi Arabia) reports that continuous electrocatalytic conversion of CO2 to pure liquid fuel solutions in cells which utilize solid electrolytes, where electrochemically generated cations (such as H+) and anions (such as HCOO−) are combined to form pure product solutions without mixing with other ions. They […]

Using nature to produce a revolutionary optical material

Nanowerk  September 5, 2019 An international team of researchers (China, Israel, Ireland) reports on the unique nano-photonic properties of elemental tellurium particles [Te(0)], as harvest from a culture of a tellurium-oxyanion respiring bacteria. These nano-crystals prove effective in the photonic applications in the mid-infrared range compared to the chemically-formed nano-materials, suggesting a unique and environmentally friendly route of synthesis. They used the nanocrystals and a polymer to build an electro-optic switch that is immune to damage from lasers. The new material could be used to safeguard drones, surveillance cameras and other equipment against laser attacks, which can disable or destroy […]

Better chemistry through tiny antennae  August 29, 2019 Selective bond cleavage via vibrational excitation is the key to active control over molecular reactions. However, the practical implementation in condensed phases have been hampered to date by poor excitation efficiency due to fast vibrational relaxation. Researchers in Japan fabricated tiny gold antennae, each 300 nanometers wide, and illuminated them with infrared lasers. When infrared light of the right frequency was present, the electrons in the antennae oscillated back creating plasmonic resonance. The plasmonic resonance focused the laser’s energy on nearby molecules, which started vibrating. The vibration was further boosted by shaping the waveform of the […]