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RIT engineering faculty awarded NSF grant for high-tech nanofabrication equipment - EurekAlert (press release)
RIT engineering faculty awarded NSF grant for high-tech nanofabrication equipmentEurekAlert (press release)Jing Zhang, engineering faculty member at Rochester Institute of Technology, received a $305,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to acquire a new etching system for photonic, electronic and bio-device fabrication. The system strengthens RIT ...and more »
Scientists have created hybrid perovskite-graphene solar cells that show good stability upon exposure to sunlight, while still maintaining efficiency over 18% - the highest reported efficiency of...
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> Fractals and biomimetics just helped to surpass the performance of today’s transparent electrode materials Image: M. Giersig/HZB If you take a close look at a leaf from a tree and you’ll notice the veins that run through it. The structure these veins take are what’s called a quasi-fractal hierarchical networks. Fractals are geometric shapes in which each part has the same statistical character of the whole. Fractal science is used to model everything from snowflakes and the veins of leaves to crystal growth. Now an international team of researchers led by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin have mimicked leaves’ quasi-fractal structure and used it to create a network of nanowires for solar cells and touch screen displays. Indium tin oxide (ITO) has been the go-to material for transparent conductors in displays and solar cells. While the costs associated with ITO have been one of the main knocks against it, it’s been difficult for the various nanomaterials proposed as alternatives to replace it. Nanomaterials—including silver nanowires, carbon nanotubes and graphene—have not only been handicapped by their own relative high costs, but their performance has been somewhat lacking as well. With this new method of distribution, nanowires are able to surpass the performance of traditional ITO layers. The reason for this becomes a little clearer when you go back and look at the leaf. The distribution of veins in the leaf is determined in part by the amount of shade and sunlight the leaf receives. With ITO, the material is spread out in one continuous, uniform film. However, the way the sunlight strikes a solar cell or the way a finger presses on a touch-screen display are not uniform. This reduces the ITO layer’s efficiency. In research described in the journal Nature Communications , the international research team used a quasi-fractal hierarchical network to optimize the distribution of the nanowires on a solar cell according to three conditions: provide maximum surface coverage, achieve a uniform current density, and have a minimal overall resistance. “On the basis of our studies, we were able to develop an economical transparent metal electrode," Michael Giersig, a professor at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and who led the research, said in a press release. “We obtain this by integrating two silver networks. One silver network is applied with a broad mesh spacing between the micron-diameter main conductors that serve as the ‘highway’ for electrons transporting electrical current over macroscopic distances.” Next to this broad highway for the electrons, the researchers added randomly distributed nanowire networks that serve as local conductors to cover the surface between the large mesh elements. “These smaller networks act as regional roadways beside the highways to randomize the directions and strengths of the local currents, and also create refraction effects to improve transparency,” according to Giersig. Solar cells with the leaf-vein network had an efficiency of 5.91 percent in experiments. Those with a standard ITO had 5.37 percent.
A transparent flexible thin-film triboelectric nanogenerator for scalable electricity generationGuang Zhu; Xiao Yan Wei; Zhong Lin WangInternational Journal of Nanomanufacturing, Vol. 12, No. 3/4 (2016) pp. 396 - 403We report a flexible thin-film-based triboelectric nanogenerator (TF-TENG) that has a one-component laminated structure as thin as 100 µm. The electricity-generating process of the TF-TENG takes advantage of the interaction between the TF-TENG and an external object that carries triboelectric charge on the surface. The motion of the object creates electric potential difference between two electrodes on the TF-TENG, which then produces electron flow in the external circuit. When triggered by foot stomping, a TF-TENG (20 cm by 20 cm) spread on the floor could generate an open-circuit voltage of 700 V, a short-circuit current of 3 mA, and an instantaneous power of 168 mW that corresponds to a power density of 4.2 W/m<SUP align="right">2</SUP>. The generated electricity could simultaneously power 1,000 LEDs. The TF-TENG can be tailored to any desired size and shape that are suitable in a variety of circumstances as long as contacts with external objects take place. When the TF-TENG is scaled up in area and used in places that have large flows of people such as subway stations and shopping malls, the produced electric energy in total may become considerable.
Ambitious, complex research that leads to breakthrough discoveries requires large-scale, long-term investments. Today, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announces $94 million in funding to support four new Science and Technology Centers (STCs), partnerships that lay the foundations for advances in fields ranging from cell biology and mechanobiology to particle physics and materials science. Each awardee will receive up to $24 million over a five-year period, with the possibility ... More at http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=189782&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click This is an NSF News item.
NewsCell phones and Apple watches could last a little longer due to a new method to create copper nanowires. Contributed Author: Lawrence Livermore National LaboratoryTopics: Nanotechnology
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> A novel molecule changes the game in flexible nonvolatile memory, potentially ushering a new era in wearable electronics Illustration: Paolo Samori/University of Strasbourg & CNRS Irradiation with either blue or green light is used to respectively "write" or "erase" information on a flexible transistor device. The molecular switch contained in a semiconducting polymer matrix undergoes reversible interconversion between its two forms, interacting (trapping) or not with the current flowing through the semiconductor. A regular stream of breakthroughs with organic nanomaterials for use in flexible electronics has observers scratching their heads as to why we aren’t seeing more of these technologies in applications such as wearable electronics. The problem has been that although organic nanomaterials have made flexible logic circuits and displays possible, they have pretty much failed to yield flexible, nonvolatile memories with write/erase speeds that would make them practical. Now a team of researchers hailing from the University of Strasbourg and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France, along with collaborators from Humboldt University of Berlin and the University of Nova Gorica, in Slovenia, has developed a flexible nonvolatile optical memory thin-film transistor device made from organic nanomaterials that may change the game in wearable electronics. To date, the major challenge in developing flexible organic memories has been creating a stable system that doesn’t lose data over time (volatility), is flexible, and offers an acceptable number of write/erase cycles (endurance). The international research team overcame all of those hurdles, but they wanted more. “We wanted every single device to be able to store more than just a single bit (multilevel operation); we achieved 8 bits,” said Emanuele Orgiu, a researcher at CNRS and one of the authors of the paper, in an email interview with IEEE Spectrum. “In addition, our devices can be made from solutions directly on a plastic substrate, and they feature very fast response times (within nanoseconds)—an intensely sought-after property for organic semiconductors, which usually exhibit very long response times (greater than a millisecond),” added Orgiu. In a paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology , the team explains that it was able to achieve all of this by fabricating the device from molecules known as diarylethenes (DAEs), which can be switched between two states (called either open or closed form). Switching from writing to erasing was as simple as adjusting the wavelength of the light hitting the material (blue light for writing, green for erasing). “The DAEs used in our work are particularly suited for nonvolatile data storage, since their two forms are stable at ambient conditions,” explained Tim Leydecker, another researcher from CNRS who is a member of the research team. “Plus, they can be switched even when embedded within a semiconducting polymer matrix, making them an ideal candidate for flexible films.” explains that the molecules’ fast response to a 3-nanosecond laser pulse is relevant to modern electronics. Another benefit of the DAE molecules is that the amount of molecules that are switched in reaction to the light can be precisely controlled, which is a key requirement for multi-level storage that improves the data density. Paolo Samorì, another team member from CRNS, explained that the molecules’ fast response to a 3-nanosecond laser pulse brings them right in line with modern electronics. Samorì added that another benefit of the DAE molecules is that the number of molecules that are switched in reaction to the light can be precisely controlled—a key requirement for improved data density in multilevel storage. The devices they have fabricated so far are laboratory prototypes, and thus are relatively large at 1 square millimeter. Needless to say, miniaturization and encapsulation will need to be addressed in order for these memories to become a commercial product. However, the rearchers already have these issues in their sights, and plan to continue testing the performance and stability of the devices after encapsulation. The team will also be examining fabrication processes compatible with industrial output, such as roll-to-roll manufacturing and inkjet printing. Stefan Hecht, a team member from Humboldt University of Berlin, added: “Implementation into electronics featuring other organic components (organic light-emitting diodes and organic field-effect transistors) is an important step, as the entire system would benefit from the advantages of organic electronics.”
Researchers have developed a novel type of “buckypaper” – a thin film composed of carbon nanotubes – that has better thermal and electrical properties than most types of buckypaper previously developed. Researchers believe the innovative buckypaper could be used to create ultra-lightweight composite materials for numerous aerospace and energy applications, including advanced lightning strike protection on airplanes and more powerful lithium-ion batteries. Read More...