Nanocarbons DivisionNomination Deadline: September 1, 2016

You are invited to nominate qualified candidate(s) for the Nanocarbons Division Richard E. Smalley Award.

The Nanocarbons Division Richard E. Smalley Research Award was established in 2006 to encourage research excellence in the areas of fullerenes, nanotubes and carbon nanostructures. The award consists of a scroll, a $1,000 prize and travel assistance to attend the 231st ECS biannual meeting in May/June, 2017 in New Orleans, LA for formal recognition. Explore the full award details on the ECS web site prior to completing the electronic application.

P.S. The Nanocarbons Division Richard E. Smalley Research Award is part of ECS Honors & Awards Program, one that has recognized professional and volunteer achievement within our multi-disciplinary sciences for decades. Learn more about various forms of ECS recognition and those who share the spotlight as past award winners.

Carbon nanotubes have a potentially wide variety of applications due to their strength, flexibility, and other promising properties. While many researchers have been focused on applying carbon nanotubes in nanotechnology and electronics, ECS members Kris Dahl and Mohammad Islam are looking to give the nanotubes a new use in medical applications.

Dahl, a chemical and biomedical engineer; and Islam, a materials scientists; are taking their respective skills and putting them to use in the novel interdisciplinary development, making possible carbon nanotubed-based structures for drug delivery.

This from Carnegie Mellon University:

Picture feeding a dog a pill. In order to do so, one would wrap it in cheese to mask the medicine and make it more appealing. In a similar vein, to enhance drug delivery, Dahl and Islam have engineered proteins that wrap around the drug-coated carbon nanotubes. The cells, which love these proteins, more readily take up the drug—much as a dog would more readily eat the cheese-coated pill.

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Remembering Harry Kroto

Harry KrotoA giant among giants

Harry Kroto, distinguished chemist and pioneering nanocarbons researcher, passed away on April 30, 2016 at the age of 76. Kroto, a giant among giants, made an immense impact not only on ECS and its scientific discipline – but the world at large.

“Harry Kroto’s passing is a great loss to science and society as a whole,” says Bruce Weisman, professor at Rice University and division chair of the ECS Nanocarbons Division. “He was an exceptional researcher whose 1985 work with Rick Smalley and Bob Curl launched the field of nanocarbons research and nanotechnology.”

Revolutionizing chemistry

That work conducted by Kroto, Smalley, and Curl yielded the discovery of the C60 structure that became known as the buckminsterfullerene (or the “buckyball” for short). Prior to this breakthrough, there were only two known forms of pure carbon: graphite and diamond. The work opened a new branch in chemistry with unbound possibilities, earning the scientists the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

The field of nanocarbons and fullerenes, since the discovery by Kroto and company, has evolved into an area with almost limitless potential. The applications for this scientific discipline are wide-ranging – from energy harvesting to sensing and biosensing to biomedical applications and far beyond. Research in this field continues to fill the pages of scholarly journals, making possible innovations that were not even conceived before the seminal 1985 work.

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A research team, including ECS members Stephen Doorn and Erik H Hároz, has created flexible, wafer-scale films of highly aligned and closely packed carbon nanotubes thanks to a simple filtration process. In a discovery that was previously though impossible, the researchers found that in the right solution and under the right conditions, the tubes can assemble themselves by the millions into long rows.

(ICYMI: Get the freshman 101 on carbon nanotubes from nanocarbons expert Bruce Weisman.)

This development could help bring flexible electronics to actuality, especially with the special electronic properties of the nanotubes.

“Once we have centimeter-sized crystals consisting of single-chirality nanotubes, that’s it,” said Junichiro Kono, Rice University physicist leading the study. “That’s the holy grail for this field. For the last 20 years, people have been looking for this.”

Bruce Weisman, chemistry and materials science professor at Rice University, is internationally recognized for his contributions to the spectroscopy and photophysics of carbon nanostructures. He is a pioneer in the field of spectroscopy, leading the discovery and interpretation of near-infrared fluorescence for semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Aside from his work at Rice University, Weisman is also the founder and president of Applied NanoFluorescence.

Weisman is currently the Division Chair of the ECS Nanocarbons Division, which will be celebrating 25 years of nanocarbons symposia at the upcoming 229th ECS Meeting in San Diego, CA, May 2016. Since starting in 1991, the symposia has totaled 5,853 abstracts at ECS biannual meetings, with Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley delivering the inaugural talk.

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World’s Most Expensive Material

The world’s most expensive material is being created in a lab and it’s going for $33,000 per 200 micrograms. To put that in perspective, that’s an astonishing $4.2 billion an ounce.

The novel material consists of molecular units called endohedral fullerenes, which are essentially a cage of carbon atoms containing nitrogen atoms.

Developers and scientists behind the material are focused on implementing the endohedral fullerenes into the development of a small, portable atomic clock. The atomic clock is the most accurate time-keeping system in the world and could assist in the accuracy of everything from a GPS to an automatic car.

“Imagine a minaturised atomic clock that you could carry around in your smartphone,” says Kriakos Porfyrakis, scientist working on the development of the material. “This is the next revolution for mobile.”

Aside from impacting cellphone technology, Porfyrakis expects the material to change transportation in a big way.

ICYMI: Learn about the early history of the Buckyball.

“There will be lots of applications for this technology,” says Lucius Cary, director of Oxford Technology SEIS fund. “The most obvious is in controlling autonomous vehicles. If two cars are coming towards each other on a country lane, knowing where they are to within 2m is not enough but to 1mm it is enough.”

Rusnanoprize Awarded to ECS Members

id41860Two ECS members were recently awarded the 2015 RUSNANOPRIZE Nanotechnology International Prize for their work in developing nanostructured carbon materials, which have facilitated the commercialization and wide-use of supercapacitors in energy storage, automotive, and many other industries. The organization honored Yury Gogotsi and Patrice Simon for their exemplary research in this field.

The RUSNANOPRIZE Nanotechnology International Prize, established in 2009, is presented annually to those working on nanotechnology projects that have substantial economic or social potential. The prize is aimed to promote successful commercialization of novel technology and strengthening collaboration in the field of nanotechnology.

Yury Gogotsi is a professor at Drexel University and director of the Anthony J. Drexel Nanotechnology Institute. Among his most notable accomplishments, Gogotsi was a member of a team that discovered a novel family of two-dimensional carbides and nitrides, which have helped open the door for exceptional energy storage devices. Additionally, Gogotsi’s hand in discovering and describing new forms of carbon and the development of a “green” supercapacitor built of environmentally friendly materials has advanced the field of energy technology.

Gogotsi is a Fellow of ECS and is currently the advisor of the Drexel ECS Student Chapter.

Patrice Simon is a professor at Paul Sabatier University. As a materials scientist and electrochemist, Simon has special interest in designing the next generation of batteries and supercapacitors. As the leader of the French Network on Electrochemical Energy Storage, Simon is making strides in developing next-gen technology through combining 17 labs and 15 companies in an effort to apply novel principals to issues in energy storage and technology. As an internationally recognized leader in the field of nanotechnology for energy storage, Simon’s work focuses on benefiting the entire energy storage industry.

Simon has been a member of ECS for 15 years.

ICYMI: Find other ECS researchers are doing in the world of nanocarbons.

Fullerenes Inhibit Infection by Ebola Virus

A new breakthrough in biotechnology could have the potential to eradicate the Ebola virus infection. Through the construction of a supermolecule made up of 13 fullerenes, a new door has been opened in the world of antiviral agents.

A team from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid/IMDEA-Nanociencia (UCM) has designed a giant fullerene molecule, covered in carbohydrates. When the team tested the new supermolecule on an artificial Ebola virus model, the researchers saw a result that stops cell infection of Ebola.

The study was led by ECS member and UCM professor Nazario Martín.

“Fullerenes are hollow cages exclusively formed by carbon atoms,” says Martín.

This from UCM:

These molecules decorated with specific carbohydrates (sugars) present affinity by the receptor used as an entry point to infect the cell and act blocking it, thus inhibiting the infection. Researchers employed an artificial Ebola virus by expressing one of its proteins, envelope protein GP1, responsible of its entry in the cells. In a model in vitro, this protein is covering a false virus, which is able of cell infection but not of replication.

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The new study also opens the door to identifying other molecules floating in space.Image: NASA/JPL

The new study also opens the door to identifying other molecules floating in space.
Image: NASA/JPL

Buckyballs—or buckminsterfullerenes, named for their structural similarities to the designs of Buckminster Fuller—have just answered the 100-year-old question of odd variations in light coming through interstellar space.

Astronomers once assumed that this cosmic-light was the result of dust or other tiny space detritus, but a team of chemists have now determined that it is actually the result of buckyballs floating around in space.

Though this isn’t the first time that buckyballs were found in far-off locations. In 2010, researchers spotted the first ever buckyballs in space using the Spitzer telescope.

ECS Podcast – “A Word About Nanocarbons”
Listen as some of the world-leading scientists in nanocarbon and fullerene research discuss the monumental role buckyballs have played in science.

However, the spotting in 2010 proved that buckyballs can indeed exist in space, whereas the current buckyball spotting solve a nearly century-long question that has troubled astronomers globally.

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Big Energy Boost for Small Electronics

Yarn made of niobium nanowires can be used to make very efficient supercapacitors.Image: MIT

Yarn made of niobium nanowires can be used to make very efficient supercapacitors.
Image: MIT

With the recent surge in wearable electronics, researchers and looking for a way to get larger amounts of power to these tiny devices. Due to the limited size of these devices, it is difficult to transmit data via the small battery.

Now, MIT researchers have found a way to solve this issue by developing an approach that can deliver short but big bursts of power to small devices. The development has the potential to affect more than wearable electronics through its ability to deliver high power in small volumes to larger-scale applications. The key to this new development is the team’s novel supercapacitor.

This from MIT:

The new approach uses yarns, made from nanowires of the element niobium, as the electrodes in tiny supercapacitors (which are essentially pairs of electrically conducting fibers with an insulator between). In this new work, [Seyed M. Mirvakili] and his colleagues have shown that desirable characteristics for such devices, such as high power density, are not unique to carbon-based nanoparticles, and that niobium nanowire yarn is a promising an alternative.

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