Open menu

Nanotechnology Spotlight

Behind the buzz and beyond the hype:
Our Nanowerk-exclusive feature articles

Showing Spotlights 57 - 64 of 114 in category General Nanotechnology (newest first):

 

Atomistic model contributes to safety of geosequestration processes

greenhouse_gasGlobal warming, caused by a build-up of greenhouse gases, in particular carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere, has led to numerous proposals on how to capture and store CO2 in order to mitigate the damaging emissions from fossil fuels. Today we take a look at carbon sequestration and subsequent storage in geological formations (geosequestration) - a proposal that is already being tested on a large scale. The idea behind coal-bed geosequestration is that you inject a huge amount of carbon dioxide into deep unmined coal seams. Due to strong adsorption forces, the carbon dioxide will be adsorbed in coal. It will not be desorbed and gradually transform to solid rocks. Moreover the technology is already developed and in use for oil and gas mining. However, the fundamental problem is so-called adsorption-induced deformation of coal or any other porous material.

Posted: Nov 30th, 2010

Are female scientists better online social networkers than their male colleagues?

social_networkSince 2009, NT-MDT Co. has been holding a contest of scientific art images obtained by atomic force microscopes (AFM). Each month, researchers from around the world submit their AFM scans to the dedicated ProIMAGE contest site where they are then subject to online voting by site visitors. According to NT-MDT, a simple gender analysis of monthly winners shows that a) the percentage of women has been rising for two years, and b) women attract more votes originating from social networks. Of course, these observations are more trivia than hard scientific facts. Nevertheless, they appear to reveal a phenomenon of higher online communication skills among female scientists. It remains to be seen to what degree social networks a la Facebook and LinkedIn will change the way the scientific community interacts and communicates.

Posted: Nov 23rd, 2010

Nanotechnology in the automotive industry

concept_carThe automotive sector is a major consumer of material technologies - and nanotechnologies promise to improve the performance of existing technologies significantly. Applications range from already existing - paint quality, fuel cells, batteries, wear-resistant tires, lighter but stronger materials, ultra-thin anti-glare layers for windows and mirrors - to the futuristic - energy-harvesting bodywork, fully self-repairing paint, switchable colors, shape-shifting skin. The basic trends that nanotechnology enables for the automobile are: lighter but stronger materials; improved engine efficiency and fuel consumption for gasoline-powered cars; reduced environmental impact from hydrogen and fuel cell-powered cars; improved and miniaturized electronic systems; and better economies. This article provides an overview of a large number of efforts and applications involving nanotechnologies in the automotive industry.

Posted: Nov 12th, 2010

Nanocatalysis: Applications in the chemical industry

catalysisNanocatalysis - the use of nanoparticles to catalyze reactions - is a rapidly growing field which involves the use of nanomaterials as catalysts for a variety of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis applications. Heterogeneous catalysis represents one of the oldest commercial practices of nanoscience; nanoparticles of metals, semiconductors, oxides, and other compounds have been widely used for important chemical reactions. Since nanoparticles have a large surface-to-volume ratio compared to bulk materials, they are attractive candidates for use as catalysts. Although surface science studies have contributed significantly to our fundamental understanding of catalysis, most commercial catalysts, are still produced by 'mixing, shaking and baking' mixtures of multi-components; their nanoscale structures are not well controlled and the synthesis-structure-performance relationships are poorly understood.

Posted: Nov 5th, 2010

European FP6 nanotechnology research evaluation - little impact, no kidding?

FP6A new 290-page tome titled 'Strategic impact, no revolution' is the result of a year-long effort to study the strategic value and impact of NMP in its wider European and international context, with special focus on the ERA dimension, against the general policy objectives of FP6 and against the specific objectives of NMP. The title of this report refers to the general finding that the third thematic priority in FP6 strategically affected Europe's competitive position and was an important programme which also influenced Member States' policies and research agendas. However, it cannot be directly linked to a revolution with regard to creating substantial scientific or industrial breakthroughs although these were among the explicitly targeted objectives. The program strengthened Europe's position as one of the world leaders in the respective scientific and industrial fields, but did not enable Europe to outperform other key actors such as the United States or Japan.

Posted: Aug 12th, 2010

Using nanotechnology to unlock a fountain of bull

cosmeticsHere is a perfect example of how someone, who apparently doesn't understand or care much about the science, writes a sensational press release hyping nanotechnology by cherry-picking information and distorting issues. And all that to sell a product that doesn't even have to do with nanotechnology. Two days ago we ran a press release from Thomson Reuters about a brief report they compiled on patent data relating to nanotechnology in the cosmetics industry. Now, Thomson Reuters is in the business of selling information and information services products and applications. Their press release basically is advertising for their IP Market Reports. There is nothing wrong with that. What is very wrong, though, is the nonsense and unbalanced take on certain aspects on nanotechnologies. Let's take a closer look.

Posted: Jul 15th, 2010

Nanomaterials in the construction industry and resulting health and safety issues

constructionTailing after emerging nanotechnology applications in biomedical and electronic industries, the construction industry recently started seeking out a way to advance conventional construction materials using a variety of manufactured nanomaterials. The use of nanotechnology materials and applications in the construction industry should be considered not only for enhancing material properties and functions but also in the context of energy conservation. This is a particularly important prospect since a high percentage of all energy used (e.g., 41% in the United States) is consumed by commercial buildings and residential houses by applications such as heating, lighting, and air conditioning. A recent review by scientists at Rice University has looked at the benefits of using nanomaterials in construction materials but also highlights the potentially harmful aspects of releasing nanomaterials into the environment.

Posted: Jul 13th, 2010

Key puzzle in brittle-to-ductile transition in silicon resolved

molecular_crackWhy does silicon, which usually shatters catastrophically like glass when fractured, suddenly change and show ductile fracture like metals when the temperature is increased? Large atomistic models that incorporate quantum mechanical effects of how atoms interact in the material have now unravelled the fundamental events that cause the sudden change from brittle cleavage to ductile dislocation emission at a crack tip in silicon. This research has revealed that at low temperatures, silicon fails under spreading of cracks, where atomic bonds are broken continuously such that fractures spread easily in the material. For temperatures beyond a critical point, however, this changes dramatically and rather than breaking atomic bonds, stacked planes of atoms in the silicon lattice are sheared altogether, shutting down the spreading of cracks and giving rise to a much more graceful mode of failure that resembles that of metals.

Posted: Jun 22nd, 2010