Cover Charge: New Spray-On Battery Could Convert Any Object into an Electricity Storage Device Perhaps someday you'll need to go to the store because you ran out of cathode paint. A team of researchers has just announced a new paint-on battery design. The technique could change the way batteries are produced and eliminate restrictions on the surfaces used for energy storage. The paint-on battery, like all lithium ion batteries, consists of five layers: a positive current collector, a cathode that attracts positively charged ions, an ion-conducting separator, an anode to attract negative ions, and a negative current collector. Neelam Singh, a member of the team of materials scientists and chemists from Rice University in Houston and Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and lead author of the paper, says, "It was really exciting to find out. Singh says her team's work is filling a need in the socially critical field of energy storage for new battery designs. But for now paint-on batteries are not quite ready to hit the shelves at your local hardware store.
MIT creates glucose fuel cell to power implanted brain-computer interfaces Neuroengineers at MIT have created a implantable fuel cell that generates electricity from the glucose present in the cerebrospinal fluid that flows around your brain and spinal cord. In theory, this fuel cell could eventually drive low-power sensors and computers that decode your brain activity to interface with prosthetic limbs. The glucose-powered fuel cell is crafted out of silicon and platinum, using standard semiconductor fabrication processes. Size-wise, the MIT engineers have created glucose-powered fuel cells that are as large as 64x64mm (2.5in), or as small as just a few millimeters. This discovery is exciting for two main reasons: a) The fuel cell is completely synthetic, and b) they can be produced using low-tech, decades-old chip fabrication processes. Ultimately, this fuel cell will hopefully be used to power implanted, ultra-low-power devices that sit inside your skull or spinal cord. Read more at MIT or download the paper at PLoS ONE (non-paywalled!)
Why wood pulp is world's new wonder material - tech - 23 August 2012 THE hottest new material in town is light, strong and conducts electricity. What's more, it's been around a long, long time. Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), which is produced by processing wood pulp, is being hailed as the latest wonder material. To ramp up production, the US opened its first NCC factory in Madison, Wisconsin, on 26 July, marking the rise of what the US National Science Foundation predicts will become a $600 billion industry by 2020. So why all the fuss? "It is the natural, renewable version of a carbon nanotube at a fraction of the price," says Jeff Youngblood of Purdue University's NanoForestry Institute in West Lafayette, Indiana. The $1.7 million factory, which is owned by the US Forest Service, will produce two types of NCC: crystals and fibrils. Production of NCC starts with "purified" wood, which has had compounds such as lignin and hemicellulose removed. "The beauty of this material is that it is so abundant we don't have to make it," says Youngblood.
LG produces the first flexible cable-type lithium-ion battery LG Chem, a member of the LG conglomerate/chaebol and one of the largest chemical companies in the world, has devised a cable-type lithium-ion battery that’s just a few millimeters in diameter, and is flexible enough to be tied in knots, worn as a bracelet, or woven into textiles. The underlying chemistry of the cable-type battery is the same as the lithium-ion battery in your smartphone or laptop — there’s an anode, a lithium cobalt oxide (LCO) cathode, an electrolyte — but instead of being laminated together in layers, they’re twisted into a hollow, flexible, spring-like helix. LG Chem’s battery starts with thin strands of copper wire, which are coated with a nickel-tin (Ni-Sn) alloy to create the anode. These strands are twisted into a yarn, and then wrapped tightly around a 1.5mm-diameter rod. The rod is removed, leaving a strong spring. If you removed batteries from the equation, new form factors would explode onto the market.
Researchers Create First Working Qubit Based on Single Atom in Silicon By Will Soutter This is an artist’s impression of a phosphorus atom (red sphere surrounded by electron cloud, with arrow showing the spin direction) coupled to a silicon single-electron transistor. A burst of microwaves (blue) is used to ‘write’ information on the electron spin. (credit: Tony Melov) Qubit is the fundamental data unit of future quantum computers. The study results have appeared in the Nature journal. Lead author, Jarryd Pla stated that the researchers were able to separate, measure and manipulate an electron of the single atom with the help of a device that was fabricated in the same way as a typical silicon computer chip. The team's next step is to couple qubit pairs to form two-qubit logic gates, the fundamental processing units of future quantum computers. Source:
Scientists Invent Vanishing Electronics That Dissolve in the Body Scientists have created ultra-thin electronic devices that can "melt away" in the body once their job is done. A new study, published in the journal Science, details how scientists have created a tiny, fully functional electronic device capable of vanishing within their environment, like in the body or in water, once they are no longer needed or useful. There are already implants that dispense drugs or provide electrical stimulation but they do not dissolve. The latest creation is an early step in a technology that may benefit not only medicine, like enabling the development of medical implants that don't need to be surgically removed or the risk of long-term side effects, but also electronic waste disposal. While most electronic devices are built to last, the latest device is made up of silicon and a tiny magnesium oxide circuit encapsulated in a protective layer of silk that can easily and harmlessly be absorbed by body fluids.
No Pulse: How Doctors Reinvented The Human Heart Meeko the calf stood nuzzling a pile of hay. He didn't seem to have much appetite, and he looked a little bored. Every now and then, he glanced up, as though wondering why so many people with clipboards were standing around watching him. Fourteen hours earlier, I'd watched doctors lift Meeko's heart from his body and place it, still beating, in a plastic dish. As many as five million Americans suffer some form of heart failure, but only about 2,000 hearts a year become available for transplant. To understand why they still haven't succeeded, pick up a two-pound barbell and start curling it. The problem is the "beating" part. It turns out that imitating a beating heart with metal and plastic has several limitations. Clark probably would not have been able to hang on much longer in any case. A transplantable heart, alas, is an increasingly rare find. "His giant heartbeat," Rainer Maria Rilke wrote of God early in the past century, "is diverted in us into little pulses."
Envelope for an artificial cell (PhysOrg.com) -- Chemists have taken an important step in making artificial life forms from scratch. Using a novel chemical reaction, they have created self-assembling cell membranes, the structural envelopes that contain and support the reactions required for life. Neal Devaraj, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of California, San Diego, and Itay Budin, a graduate student at Harvard University, report their success in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. “One of our long term, very ambitious goals is to try to make an artificial cell, a synthetic living unit from the bottom up – to make a living organism from non-living molecules that have never been through or touched a living organism,” Devaraj said. By assembling an essential component of earthly life with no biological precursors, they hope to illuminate life’s origins. “We don’t understand this really fundamental step in our existence, which is how non-living matter went to living matter,” Devaraj said.
The first flexible, fiber-optic solar cell that can be woven into clothes An international team of engineers, physicists, and chemists have created the first fiber-optic solar cell. These fibers are thinner than human hair, flexible, and yet they produce electricity, just like a normal solar cell. The US military is already interested in weaving these threads into clothing, to provide a wearable power source for soldiers. In essence, the research team started with optical fibers made from glass — and then, using high-pressure chemical vapor deposition, injected n-, i-, and p-type silicon into the fiber, turning it into a solar cell. The lead researcher, John Badding of Penn State University, says the team has already produced “meters-long fiber,” and that their new technique could be used to create “bendable silicon solar-cell fibers of over 10 meters in length.” Moving forward, the potential for flexible, woven solar cells is enormous. These fibers also have two other intriguing properties that still need to be investigated.
Super-fine sound beam could one day be an invisible scalpel ANN ARBOR—A carbon-nanotube-coated lens that converts light to sound can focus high-pressure sound waves to finer points than ever before. The University of Michigan engineering researchers who developed the new therapeutic ultrasound approach say it could lead to an invisible knife for noninvasive surgery. Today's ultrasound technology enables far more than glimpses into the womb. Doctors routinely use focused sound waves to blast apart kidney stones and prostate tumors, for example. The beams that today's technology produces can be unwieldy, says Hyoung Won Baac, a research fellow at Harvard Medical School who worked on this project as a doctoral student in Guo's lab. "A major drawback of current strongly focused ultrasound technology is a bulky focal spot, which is on the order of several millimeters," Baac said. The team was able to concentrate high-amplitude sound waves to a speck just 75 by 400 micrometers (a micrometer is one-thousandth of a millimeter). Related Links:
New technique puts chemistry breakthroughs on the fast track Scientists can now take that "a-ha" moment to go with a method Princeton University researchers developed — and successfully tested — to speed up the chances of an unexpected yet groundbreaking chemical discovery. The researchers report this month in the journal Science a technique to accomplish "accelerated serendipity" by using robotics to perform more than 1,000 chemical reactions a day with molecules never before combined. In a single day of trials, the Princeton researchers discovered a shortcut for producing pharmaceutical-like compounds that shaves weeks off the traditional process, the researchers report. The basis of the research was to combine new technology with a unique, rapid-reaction approach that could allow chemists to explore unheard-of and potentially important chemical combinations without devoting years to the pursuit, explained senior researcher and co-author David MacMillan, the James S. "Our process is designed specifically for serendipity to occur.
Scientists Have Created Crystals That Are Almost Alive