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Nov 09

Reported by Mike Ross, in Stanford News Report, 27 September 2013.

The tiny new technology could spawn new generations of smaller, less expensive devices for science and medicine.

The nanostructured glass chip is smaller than a grain of rice (by Brad Plummer).

In an advance that could dramatically shrink particle accelerators for science and medicine, researchers used a laser to accelerate electrons at a rate 10 times higher than conventional technology in a nanostructured glass chip smaller than a grain of rice.

The achievement was reported today in the journal Nature by a team including scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University.

“We still have a number of challenges before this technology becomes practical for real-world use, but eventually it would substantially reduce the size and cost of future high-energy particle colliders for exploring the world of fundamental particles and forces,” said Joel England, the SLAC physicist who led the experiments. Continue reading »

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Sep 26

Reported by Tom Abate, in Stanford News, 26 September 2013.

Unprecedented feat points toward a new generation of energy-efficient electronics!

This wafer contains tiny computers using carbon nanotubes, a material that could lead to smaller, more energy-efficient processors (by Norbert von der Groeben).

A team of Stanford engineers has built a basic computer using carbon nanotubes, a semiconductor material that has the potential to launch a new generation of electronic devices that run faster, while using less energy, than those made from silicon chips.

This unprecedented feat culminates years of efforts by scientists around the world to harness this promising but quirky material.

The achievement is reported today in an article on the cover of the  journal Nature written by Max Shulaker and other doctoral students in electrical engineering. The research was led by Stanford professors Subhasish Mitra and H.-S. Philip Wong. Continue reading »

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Sep 25

Reported by Wiebe van der Veen, University of Twente, 20 September 2013.

Extreme engineering on the smallest scales.

A copper-phthalocyanine molecule bridges the 1.6 nanometre-wide gap between two gold nanowires. The copper atom of this molecule floats in the vacuum above this 'gap' between the wires

He isn’t just occupied crafting ultra-thin gold and iridium wires: Tijs Mocking, researcher at the University of Twente’s MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, manages to bridge the ‘gap’ between two gold nanowires, each just a few atoms high, with a single molecule. This bridge can serve to detect new physical effects or may act as a switch. Tijs Mocking obtained his PhD degree on 19 September.

Place a layer of gold only a few atoms high on a surface bed of germanium, apply heat to it, and wires will form of themselves. Gold-induced wires is what Mocking prefers to call them. Not ‘gold wires’, as the wires are not made solely out of gold atoms but also contain germanium. They are no more than a few atoms in height and are separated by no more than 1.6 nanometres (a nanometre is one millionth of a millimetre). Nanotechnologists bridge this small ‘gap’ with a copper-phthalocyanine molecule. A perfect fit. Continue reading »

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Apr 30

By J. Schlappa, K. Wohlfeld, K. J. Zhou, M. Mourigal, M. W. Haverkort, V. N. Strocov, L. Hozoi, C. Monney, S. Nishimoto, S. Singh, A. Revcolevschi, J.-S. Caux, L. Patthey, H. M. Rønnow, J. van den Brink & T. Schmitt in Nature, 18 April 2012, doi:10.1038/nature10974

When viewed as an elementary particle, the electron has spin and charge. When binding to the atomic nucleus, it also acquires an angular momentum quantum number corresponding to the quantized atomic orbital it occupies. Even if electrons in solids form bands and delocalize from the nuclei, in Mott insulators they retain their three fundamental quantum numbers: spin, charge and orbital1. The hallmark of one-dimensional physics is a breaking up of the elementary electron into its separate degrees of freedom2. The separation of the electron into independent quasi-particles that carry either spin (spinons) or charge (holons) was first observed fifteen years ago3. Here we report observation of the separation of the orbital degree of freedom (orbiton) using resonant inelastic X-ray scattering on the one-dimensional Mott insulator Sr2CuO3. We resolve an orbiton separating itself from spinons and propagating through the lattice as a distinct quasi-particle with a substantial dispersion in energy over momentum, of about 0.2 electronvolts, over nearly one Brillouin zone.

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Mar 16

Reported by Jennifer Marcus, in UCLA Newsroom, 15 March 2012.

Electrochemical capacitors (ECs), also known as supercapacitors or ultracapacitors, differ from regular capacitors that you would find in your TV or computer in that they store sustantially higher amounts of charges. They have garnered attention as energy storage devices as they charge and discharge faster than batteries, yet they are still limited by low energy densities, only a fraction of the energy density of batteries. An EC that combines the power performance of capacitors with the high energy density of batteries would represent a significant advance in energy storage technology. This requires new electrodes that not only maintain high conductivity but also provide higher and more accessible surface area than conventional ECs that use activated carbon electrodes. Continue reading »
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Jan 13

Reported by Ari Entin and Christina Howell, in IBM News, 12 Jan. 2012.

IBM scientists create the world’s smallest magnetic memory bit using only 12 atoms. First-ever demonstration of engineered atomic-scale structures storing information magnetically at low temperatures. New experimental atomic-scale magnet memory is at least 100 times denser than today’s hard disk drives and solid state memory chips.

Punctuating 30 years of nanotechnology research, scientists from IBM Research (NYSE: IBM) have successfully demonstrated the ability to store information in as few as 12 magnetic atoms. This is significantly less than today’s disk drives, which use about one million atoms to store a single bit of information. The ability to manipulate matter by its most basic components – atom by atom – could lead to the vital understanding necessary to build smaller, faster and more energy-efficient devices.

While silicon transistor technology has become cheaper, denser and more efficient, fundamental physical limitations suggest this path of conventional scaling is unsustainable. Alternative approaches are needed to continue the rapid pace of computing innovation.

Continue reading »

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Jan 09

Reported by Edwin Cartlidge, in Nature News, 5 Jan. 2012.

Atomic electrical components conduct just like conventional wires, giving a new lease of life to Moore’s law.

Microchips could keep on getting smaller and more powerful for years to come. Research shows that wires just a few nanometres wide conduct electricity in the same way as the much larger components of existing devices, rather than being adversely affected by quantum mechanics.

As manufacturing technology improves and costs fall, the number of transistors that can be squeezed onto an integrated circuit roughly doubles every two years. This trend, known as Moore’s law, was first observed in the 1960s by Gordon Moore, the co-founder of chip manufacturer Intel, based in Santa Clara, California. But transistors have now become so small that scientists have predicted that it may not be long before their performance is compromised by unpredictable quantum effects. Continue reading »

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Dec 08

Reported by McGill University News, 07 December2011.

Scientists have engineered one of the world's smallest electronic circuits. It is formed by two wires separated by only about 150 atoms or 15 nanometers (nm). (Credit: Image courtesy of McGill University)

A team of scientists, led by Guillaume Gervais from McGill’s Physics Department and Mike Lilly from Sandia National Laboratories, has engineered one of the world’s smallest electronic circuits. It is formed by two wires separated by only about 150 atoms or 15 nanometers (nm). This discovery, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, could have a significant effect on the speed and power of the ever smaller integrated circuits of the future in everything from smartphones to desktop computers, televisions and GPS systems.

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Nov 10

Reported by John Timmer, Ars Technica, 10 Nov. 2011

Credit: Randy Wind/Martin Roelfs

Utopian visions of the nanotechnology revolution suggest that one day we’ll be able to put tiny machines inside our body to perform routine screening and maintenance. But we’re a long way off from that future, as most of the nanoscale “machinery” we’ve created requires extensive intervention or carefully prepared conditions in order to do anything. But a report in today’s Nature describes an impressive feat of molecule-scale engineering: a four-wheel-drive “car” that can run across any conductive surface, powered by electrons.

The whole thing is a single molecule. Its core is formed by two hubs that have a five-ringed structure at their core. The hubs are connected by a rigid rod formed from carbon atoms, held together by triple bonds. Each hub is flanked by two “wheels,” each consisting of a three-ringed structure. The bulk of the molecule is a carbon backbone, with a small number of nitrogen and sulfur molecules thrown in.

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Sep 09

Reported by ScienceDaily, 5 Sep. 2011.

The smallest electrical motor on the planet, at least according to Guinness World Records, is 200 nanometers. Granted, that’s a pretty small motor — after all, a single strand of human hair is 60,000 nanometers wide — but that tiny mark is about to be shattered in a big way.

hemists at Tufts University have developed the world's first single molecule electric motor, which may potentially create a new class of devices that could be used in applications ranging from medicine to engineering. The molecular motor was powered by electricity from a state of the art, low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope. This microscope sent an electrical current through the molecule, directing the molecule to rotate in one direction or another. The molecule had a sulfur base (yellow); when placed on a conductive slab of copper (orange), it became anchored to the surface. The sulfur-containing molecule had carbon and hydrogen atoms radiating off to form what looks like two arms (gray); these carbon chains were free to rotate around the central sulfur-copper bond. The researchers found that reducing the temperature of the molecule to five Kelvin (K), or about minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit (ºF), enabled them to precisely impact the direction and rotational speed of the molecular motor The Tufts team plans to submit this miniature electric motor to the Guinness World Records. The research was published online Sept. 4 in Nature Nanotechnology. (Credit: Heather L. Tierney, Colin J. Murphy, April D. Jewell, Ashleigh E. Baber, Erin V. Iski, Harout Y. Khodaverdian, Allister F. McGuire, Nikolai Klebanov and E. Charles H. Sykes.)

Chemists at Tufts University’s School of Arts and Sciences have developed the world’s first single molecule electric motor, a development that may potentially create a new class of devices that could be used in applications ranging from medicine to engineering.

In research published online Sept. 4 in Nature Nanotechnology, the Tufts team reports an electric motor that measures a mere 1 nanometer across, groundbreaking work considering that the current world record is a 200 nanometer motor. A single strand of human hair is about 60,000 nanometers wide.

According to E. Charles H. Sykes, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry at Tufts and senior author on the paper, the team plans to submit the Tufts-built electric motor to Guinness World Records.

“There has been significant progress in the construction of molecular motors powered by light and by chemical reactions, but this is the first time that electrically-driven molecular motors have been demonstrated, despite a few theoretical proposals,” says Sykes. “We have been able to show that you can provide electricity to a single molecule and get it to do something that is not just random.”

Sykes and his colleagues were able to control a molecular motor with electricity by using a state of the art, low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope (LT-STM), one of about only 100 in the United States. The LT-STM uses electrons instead of light to “see” molecules.

The team used the metal tip on the microscope to provide an electrical charge to a butyl methyl sulfide molecule that had been placed on a conductive copper surface. This sulfur-containing molecule had carbon and hydrogen atoms radiating off to form what looked like two arms, with four carbons on one side and one on the other. These carbon chains were free to rotate around the sulfur-copper bond.

The team determined that by controlling the temperature of the molecule they could directly impact the rotation of the molecule. Temperatures around 5 Kelvin (K), or about minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit (ºF), proved to be the ideal to track the motor’s motion. At this temperature, the Tufts researchers were able to track all of the rotations of the motor and analyze the data.

While there are foreseeable practical applications with this electric motor, breakthroughs would need to be made in the temperatures at which electric molecular motors operate. The motor spins much faster at higher temperatures, making it difficult to measure and control the rotation of the motor.

“Once we have a better grasp on the temperatures necessary to make these motors function, there could be real-world application in some sensing and medical devices which involve tiny pipes. Friction of the fluid against the pipe walls increases at these small scales, and covering the wall with motors could help drive fluids along,” said Sykes. “Coupling molecular motion with electrical signals could also create miniature gears in nanoscale electrical circuits; these gears could be used in miniature delay lines, which are used in devices like cell phones.”

The Changing Face of Chemistry

Students from the high school to the doctoral level played an integral role in the complex task of collecting and analyzing the movement of the tiny molecular motors.

“Involvement in this type of research can be an enlightening, and in some cases life changing, experience for students,” said Sykes. “If we can get people interested in the sciences earlier, through projects like this, there is a greater chance we can impact the career they choose later in life.”

As proof that gaining a scientific footing early can matter, one of the high school students involved in the research, Nikolai Klebanov, went on to enroll at Tufts; he is now a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering.

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Beckman Foundation and the Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement.

Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university is widely encouraged.

Reference: Heather L. Tierney, Colin J. Murphy, April D. Jewell, Ashleigh E. Baber, Erin V. Iski, Harout Y. Khodaverdian, Allister F. McGuire, Nikolai Klebanov, E. Charles H. Sykes. Experimental demonstration of a single-molecule electric motor. Nature Nanotechnology, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/NNANO.2011.142

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