Nano-sized cables made with titanium dioxide (TiO2)-coated carbon nanotubes could hold the key to developing new high-capacity batteries, report chemists in Germany and China.  

Lithium-ion batteries are in great demand for applications from laptops to hybrid cars - but the list of requirements is long. They need to be lightweight, cheap and environmentally friendly, but also store enormous charge.

Imagine a gift wrapped in paper you really do treasure and want to carefully fold and save. That's because the wrapping paper lights up with words like "Happy Birthday" or "Happy Holidays," thanks to a built in battery — an amazing battery made out of paper. That's one potential application of a new battery made of cellulose, the stuff of paper, being described in the October 14 issue of ACS' Nano Letters, a monthly journal.

Albert Mihranyan and colleagues note in the report that scientists are trying to develop light, ecofriendly, inexpensive batteries consisting entirely of nonmetal parts. The most promising materials include so-called conductive polymers or "plastic electronics." One conductive polymer, polypyrrole (PPy), shows promise, but was often regarded as too inefficient for commercial batteries. The scientists realized, however, that by coating PPy on a large surface area substrate and carefully tailoring the thickness of the PPy coating, both the charging capacity and the charging (discharging) rates can be drastically improved.

New sensor could reveal nitric oxide's role in living cells

Source: "The rational design of nitric oxide selectivity in single-walled carbon nanotube near infrared fluorescence sensors for biological detection"
Jong-Ho Kim et al
Nature Chemistry 

Results: A new carbon nanotube sensor developed at MIT is the first sensor that can reversibly detect nitric oxide, a gas that cells commonly use to communicate with each other. Because the nitric oxide-carbon nanotube binding is reversible, the sensor can be used multiple times.

DO YOU remember as a child producing paper cubes by folding up a flat cross shape? Now two researchers have applied the same technique to the nanoscale, in the process creating the first nanoparticles with precisely patterned surfaces. These patterns could form the basis of electronic nano-circuits or provide docking stations on targeted drug-delivery particles. 

"At the macroscale, everything can easily be patterned in three dimensions," lead researcher David Gracias at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Baltimore, Maryland, told New Scientist. "However, nanoparticles with precisely patterned 3D surfaces simply do not exist."

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