New fabric developed by UMD scientists. Credit: Faye Levine, University of Maryland
When the temperature drops, we layer up. It’s the natural thing to do—until now. According to ScienceDaily, researchers at the University of Maryland have engineered a new fabric that can automatically change its properties to trap or release heat depending on external conditions.
The textile, made from synthetic yarn with a carbon nanotube coating, is activated by temperature and humidity: making it the first of its kind. When conditions are warm and moist, such as those near a sweating body, the fabric allows heat to pass through. When conditions become cooler and drier, the fabric reduces the heat that escapes. Acting like blinds, the individual strands of yarn open and close to transmit or block heat.
Nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes or modified graphene nanoribbons could be effective, less costly replacements for expensive platinum in fuel cells, according to a new study.
In fuel cells, platinum is used for fast oxygen reduction, the key reaction that transforms chemical energy into electricity.
The findings come from computer simulations scientists created to see how carbon nanomaterials could be improved for fuel-cell cathodes. Their study reveals the atom-level mechanisms by which doped nanomaterials catalyze oxygen reduction reactions (ORR).
Doping with nitrogen
Boris Yakobson, a professor of materials science and nanoengineering and of chemistry at Rice University, and his colleagues are among many researchers looking for a way to speed up ORR for fuel cells, which were discovered in the 19th century but not widely used until the latter part of the 20th. Fuel cells have since powered transportation modes ranging from cars and buses to spacecraft.
The introduction of purified carbon nanotubes appears to have a beneficial effect on the early growth of wheatgrass, according to scientists. But in the presence of contaminants, those same nanotubes could do great harm.
The Rice University lab of chemist Andrew Barron grew wheatgrass in a hydroponic garden to test the potential toxicity of nanoparticles on the plant. To their surprise, they found one type of particle dispersed in water helped the plant grow bigger and faster.
They suspect the results spring from nanotubes’ natural hydrophobic (water-avoiding) nature that in one experiment apparently facilitated the plants’ enhanced uptake of water.
The lab mounted the small-scale study with the knowledge that the industrial production of nanotubes will inevitably lead to their wider dispersal in the environment. The study cites rapid growth in the market for nanoparticles in drugs, cosmetics, fabrics, water filters, and military weapons, with thousands of tons produced annually.
Despite their widespread use, Barron says few researchers have looked at the impact of environmental nanoparticles—whether natural or human-made—on plant growth.
One of the major challenges in modern medicine is how to accurately detect disease when people are still feeling healthy. Researchers and doctors alike have long since wondered how to diagnose diseases such as cancer before it progresses too far.
Now, the medical community may find that answer in a new development out of Technion – Israel Institute of Technology called the Na-Nose.
The Na-Nose is a newly developed device that can analyze the chemical signature of exhaled gases to diagnose diseases with 86 percent accuracy. The science behind the device uses carbon nanotubes and gold particles to isolate volatile biomarkers in a patient’s breath.
Researchers then used a computer algorithm to recognize the biomarkers, creating a tool that can quickly and accurately detect diseases such as ovarian cancer or multiple sclerosis in early stages without any invasive procedures.
“It works in the same way we’d use dogs in order to detect specific compounds,” Hossam Haick, co-author of the study, told Smithsonian. “We bring something to the nose of a dog, and the dog will transfer that chemical mixture to an electrical signature and provide it to the brain, and then memorize it in specific regions of the brain … This is exactly what we do. We let it smell a given disease but instead of a nose we use chemical sensors, and instead of the brain we use the algorithms. Then in the future, it can recognize the disease as a dog might recognize a scent.”
In my engineering lab at Tufts University, we asked ourselves whether we could make sensors that could be seamlessly embedded in body tissue or organs – and yet could communicate to monitors outside the body in real time. The first concern, of course, would be to make sure that the materials wouldn’t cause infection or an immune response from the body. The sensors would also need to match the mechanical properties of the body part they would be embedded in: soft for organs and stretchable for muscle. And, ideally, they would be relatively inexpensive to make in large quantities.
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.
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.”
The nanotubes can be tumor-targeted and have a central ‘hollow’ core that can be loaded with a therapeutic payload. Image: Jing Claussen (iThera Medical, Germany)
Gold nanotubes have multiple applications in fighting cancer, including internal nanoprobes for high-resolution imaging and drug delivery vehicles. With new research from the University of Leeds, we’re discovering that these gold nanotubes may also be able to give doctors the chance to treat cancer as soon as they spot it.
“Gold nanotubes – that is, gold nanoparticles with tubular structures that resemble tiny drinking straws – have the potential to enhance the efficacy of these conventional treatments by integrating diagnosis and therapy in one single system,” said Professor at the University of Leeds Institute for Biomedical and Clinical Science Sunjie Ye in a release.
The new study shows the first successful demonstration of biomedical use of gold nanotubes in a mouse model of human cancer. The researchers hope that these results will aid in the treatment of cancer and address the issue of high recurrence rates of tumors after surgical removal.
Scientists have developed a new type of energy-efficient flat light source with a power consumption about a hundred times lower than that of an LED. Credit: N. Shimoi/Tohoku University
Scientists all around the globe are constantly looking for a way to create the even-better-bulb of tomorrow. In order to do this, researchers are looking toward carbon electronics.
This from the American Institute of Physics:
Electronics based on carbon, especially carbon nanotubes (CNTs), are emerging as successors to silicon for making semiconductor materials, and they may enable a new generation of brighter, low-power, low-cost lighting devices that could challenge the dominance of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the future and help meet society’s ever-escalating demand for greener bulbs.
With this in mind, scientists from Tohoku University have developed a new type of energy-efficient flat light source with a very low power consumption that comes in around 0.1 Watt for every hour of operation. This is about one hundred times lower than that of an LED.
The core of the nanothreads is a long, thin strand of carbon atoms arranged just like the fundamental unit of a diamond’s structure. Credit: John Badding Lab, Penn State University
A team of scientists have recently discovered how to produce ultra-thin “diamond nanothreads.” These nanothreads, which construct a structure more than 20,000 times smaller than average human hair, are expected to yield extraordinary properties. The new nanothreads will be stronger and stiffer than current nanotubes, and they will also be light in weight.
This means creating the potential for more fuel efficient vehicles, and even fictional-sounding endeavors – such as a “space elevator.”
This from Carnegie Science:
The team—led by John Badding, a chemistry professor at Penn State University and his student Thomas Fitzgibbons—used a specialized large volume high pressure device to compress benzene up to 200,000 atmospheres, at these enormous pressures, benzene spontaneously polymerizes into a long, thin strands of carbon atoms arranged just like the fundamental unit of diamond’s structure—hexagonal rings of carbon atoms bonded together, but in chains rather than the full three-dimensional diamond lattice.