ANN ARBOR, Mich.—University of Michigan physicists have created the first atomic-scale maps of quantum dots, a major step toward the goal of producing "designer dots" that can be tailored for specific applications.

Quantum dots—often called artificial atoms or nanoparticles—are tiny semiconductor crystals with wide-ranging potential applications in computing, photovoltaic cells, light-emitting devices and other technologies. Each dot is a well-ordered cluster of atoms, 10 to 50 atoms in diameter.

Highly Engineered Materials May Solve One of Science’s Toughest Problems

Researchers from UT Dallas, Clemson University and Yale University are using science on the nanoscale to address one of the most elusive challenges in physics—the discovery of room temperature superconductivity.  With that as the ultimate goal, the team is working to develop superconducting wires made from nanotubes that carry high currents at the temperature of liquid nitrogen, or higher.

 With a $3 million research grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), the team has embarked on a five-year project to invent new superconducting wires based on highly engineered nanomaterials, each component thousands of times smaller than a human hair.  Such wires would be used for applications ranging from magnets for Magnetic Resonance Imaging to replacing energy-wasting copper in power transmission lines.

John CresslerSilicon-Germanium Circuits Could Also Cut Costs

Space environments can deliver a beating to spacecraft electronics. For decades, satellites and other spacecraft have used bulky and expensive shielding to protect vital microelectronics—microprocessors and other integrated circuits—from space radiation.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are developing ways to harden the microchips themselves against damage from various types of cosmic radiation. With funding from NASA and other sponsors, a Georgia Tech team is investigating the use of silicon-germanium (SiGe) to create microelectronic devices that are intrinsically resistant to space-particle bombardment.

Using an RNA-powered nanomotor, University of Cincinnati (UC) biomedical engineering researchers have successfully developed an artificial pore able to transmit nanoscale material through a membrane.

In a study led by UC biomedical engineering professor Peixuan Guo, PhD, members of the UC team inserted the modified core of a nanomotor, a microscopic biological machine, into a lipid membrane. The resulting channel enabled them to move both single- and double-stranded DNA through the membrane.

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.

by John Troon

Variations Could Help in Assembling and Sorting Structures

Nanotubes and nanowires are promising building blocks for future integrated nanoelectronic and photonic circuits, nanosensors, interconnects and electro-mechanical nanodevices. But some fundamental issues remain to be resolved—among them, how to position and manipulate the tiny tubes. 

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