Nanowire cooling

Flexible electrocaloric fabric of nanowire array can cool.
Image: Qing Wang/Penn State

The utilization of nanowires has opened a new branch of science for many researchers. While some have focused on applying this technology to energy systems, researchers from Penn State are using the nanowires to develop solid state personal cooling systems.

A new study from the university shows that nanowires could help develop a material for lightweight cooling systems, which could be incorporated into firefighting gear, athletic uniforms, and other wearables.

“Most electrocaloric ceramic materials contain lead,” says Qing Wang, professor of materials science and engineering at Penn State. “We try not to use lead. Conventional cooling systems use coolants that can be environmentally problematic as well. Our nanowire array can cool without these problems.”

This from Penn State:

Electrocaloric materials are nanostructured materials that show a reversible temperature change under an applied electric field. Previously available electrocaloric materials were single crystals, bulk ceramics, or ceramic thin films that could cool, but are limited because they are rigid, fragile, and have poor processability. Ferroelectric polymers also can cool, but the electric field needed to induce cooling is above the safety limit for humans.

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Hybrid Biomaterial to Change Clinical Practice

Fig1-Mayo-Mao-NEWS-WEBResearchers have developed completely new nanowires by combining synthetic DNA and protein.

Through combining these two promising synthetic biological materials to form nanowires, the door to promising applications requiring biomaterials has been opened.

While both synthetic DNA and synthetic protein structures show great potential in the areas of direct delivery of cancer drugs and virus treatment customization, the hybridization of materials provides even more advantages.

“If your material is made up of several different kinds of components, it can have more functionality. For example, protein is very versatile; it can be used for many things, such as protein–protein interactions or as an enzyme to speed up a reaction. And DNA is easily programmed into nanostructures of a variety of sizes and shapes,” said first author of the study, Yun (Kurt) Mou.

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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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Nanolab in a Box

Mike Zach demonstrating his novel

Mike Zach demonstrating his novel NanoFab Lab… in a Box! during the ECS Meeting!

“What I do is simply help develop confidence in students.”

That’s Mike Zach’s mission with his exceptionally novel NanoFab Lab… in a Box!

Looking to inspire young people and help propel them in scientific careers, Zach took it upon himself to develop an affordable, self-automated, easy to use nanolab.

What Zach is doing is allowing students to understand complex science and have a hands-on experience in making patterned nanowires. Typically nanowires need a multimillion dollar lab to be produced, but Zach has streamlined this process in order to give high school-aged students all over the country a chance to immerse themselves in this seemingly limitless science.

“I’m just looking to get more students involved in electrochemistry… in the science,” said Zach.

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