Credit: Ma et al./Current Biology

Hollywood has long toyed with the idea of superhuman powers, as seen in the 2013 science fiction thriller movie Riddick, where the lead character uses his extraordinary night vision to survive a hostile world. It is one supernatural ability that may be closer to becoming a reality.

According to ScienceDaily, scientists have now made it possible for mice to pick up infrared light with the help of nanotechnology, creating the ability for night vision.

The procedure

It works with a single injection of photoreceptor-binding particles that is inserted into the mice’s eyes, converting photons to high-energy forms that allow the mice to develop infrared vision for up to 10 weeks. The procedure results in minimal side effects and causes no changes to normal vision. (more…)

Vitamin C Helps Gold Nanowires Grow

Gold nanowires grown in the Rice University lab. Credit: Zubarev Research Group/Rice University

Vitamin C offers countless benefits. It helps protect against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, can strengthen hair, and helps prevent wrinkles. Not to mention, it can also turn stubby gold nanorods into gold nanowires of impressive length.

According to ScienceDaily, scientists at Rice University recently discovered that all it takes is a dose of vitamin C to promote gold nanowires growth, making the wires valuable for sensing, diagnostic, imaging, and therapeutic applications.

According to Eugene Zubarev, a Rice lab chemist who worked on the study, and Bishnu Khanal, a Rice chemistry alumnus and lead author of the study, nanorods measured 25 nanometers thick at the start of the process, maintaining their widths as they grew in height. An important point, as the wires’ aspect ratio—length over width—dictates how well they absorb and emit light and how they conduct electrons. (more…)

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.

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Schematic representation of the movement of the flower-like particle as it makes its way through a cellular trap to deliver therapeutic genes. Credit: WSU

According to ScienceDaily, researchers have developed a new method to deliver drugs and therapies into cells at the nanoscale level.

What makes this new approach particularly promising is that it does not lead to toxic side effects, unlike other similar efforts attempted by researchers. The problem frequently faced was in the delivery of the therapeutic genes into cells, the nanomaterials only showing low delivery efficiency of medicine and possible toxicity. (more…)

Nomination Deadline: September 1, 2018

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 235th ECS biannual meeting in May 2019 in Dallas, TX for formal recognition. Explore the full award details on the ECS website prior to completing the electronic application.

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NanotechnologyEngineers are developing a new method of processing nanomaterials that could lead to faster and cheaper manufacturing of flexible, thin film devices, such as touch screens and window coatings.

The “intense pulsed light sintering” method uses high-energy light over an area nearly 7,000 times larger than a laser to fuse nanomaterials in seconds.

The existing method of pulsed light fusion uses temperatures of around 250 degrees Celsius (482 degrees Fahrenheit) to fuse silver nanospheres into structures that conduct electricity. But the new study, published in RSC Advances and led by Rutgers School of Engineering doctoral student Michael Dexter, shows that fusion at 150 degrees Celsius (302 degrees Fahrenheit) works well while retaining the conductivity of the fused silver nanomaterials.

The engineers’ achievement started with silver nanomaterials of different shapes: long, thin rods called nanowires in addition to nanospheres. The sharp reduction in temperature needed for fusion makes it possible to use low-cost, temperature-sensitive plastic substrates like polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polycarbonate in flexible devices without damaging them.

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A new method to quickly produce fibers from carbon nanotubes is both handmade and high tech.

The method allows researchers to make short lengths of strong, conductive fibers from small samples of bulk nanotubes in about an hour.

In 2013, Rice University chemist Matteo Pasquali found a way to spin full spools of thread-like nanotube fibers for aerospace, automotive, medical, and smart-clothing applications. The fibers look like cotton thread but perform like metal wires and carbon fibers.

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Carbon NanotubesThe 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.

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Researchers have captured organic nanoparticles colliding and fusing on video for the first time.

This unprecedented view of “chemistry in motion” will aid nanoscientists developing new drug delivery methods, as well as demonstrate how an emerging imaging technique opens a new window on a very tiny world.

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MicroscopeA team of engineers has found a simple, economical way to make a nano-sized device that can lift many times its own weight.

Their creation weighs 1.6 milligrams (about as much as five poppy seeds) and can lift 265 milligrams (the weight of about 825 poppy seeds) hundreds of times in a row.

Its strength comes from a process of inserting and removing ions between very thin sheets of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), an inorganic crystalline mineral compound. It’s a new type of actuator—devices that work like muscles and convert electrical energy to mechanical energy.

The discovery—an “inverted-series-connected (ISC) biomorph actuation device”—appears in Nature.

“We found that by applying a small amount of voltage, the device can lift something that’s far heavier than itself,” says Manish Chhowalla, professor and associate chair of the materials science and engineering department of in the School of Engineering at Rutgers University.

“This is an important finding in the field of electrochemical actuators. The simple restacking of atomically thin sheets of metallic MoS2 leads to actuators that can withstand stresses and strains comparable to or greater than other actuator materials.”

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