Nano News & Events

Single-Crystal Graphene Films Grown More Than 100 Times as Fast as Previously Possible

InterNano Industry News - March 2, 2017 - 4:45am
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> Ultrafast synthesis of high-quality graphene films combined with roll-to-roll processes ushers in a new era in graphene production Image: Peking University/Nature Nanotechnology The adaptation of chemical vapor deposition (CVD) production of graphene so that it’s compatible with roll-to-roll processing is transforming graphene manufacturing. That effort is being led by companies like Graphene Frontiers, based in Philadelphia. However, the production of single-crystal graphene on copper foils in a CVD process remains a fairly time consuming procedure. Fabrication of centimeter-size single crystals of graphene still takes as much as a day. Now researchers at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Peking University have developed a technique that accelerates the process so that the growth happens at 60 micrometers per second—far faster than the typical 0.4 µm per second. The key to this 150-fold speed increase was adding a little oxygen directly to the copper foils. In the research, which is described in the journal Nature Nanotechnology , the China-based researchers placed an oxide substrate 15 micrometers below the copper foil. The result: a continuous supply of oxygen that lowers the energy barrier to the decomposition of the carbon feedstock, thereby increasing the graphene growth rate. The expectations were that the oxide substrate would release the oxygen at the high temperatures inside the CVD surface (over 800 degrees Celsius). The researchers confirmed this through the use of electron spectroscopy. While the measurements indicated that oxygen was indeed being released, the amount was still fairly minimal. Nevertheless, this minuscule amount of oxygen proved sufficient for their purposes because the very small space between the oxide substrate and the copper foil created a trapping effect that multiplied the effect of the oxygen. In their experiments, the researchers were able to successfully produce single-crystal graphene materials as large as 0.3 millimeter in just five seconds. That, according to the researchers, is more than two orders of magnitude faster than other methods in which graphene is grown on copper foils. The researchers believe that this ultrafast synthesis of graphene makes possible a new era of scalable production of high-quality, single-crystal graphene films by combining this process with roll-to-roll methods. Counterintuitively, speeding up the process of producing single-crystal graphene films may not automatically lead to wider adoption of graphene in various devices. Just a few years ago, graphene production was stuck at around a 25-percent utilization rate, and there is no reason to believe that demand has increased enough to have dramatically changed those figures. (Graphene producers will tell you that if demand for CVD-produced graphene suddenly spiked, volume could be doubled nearly overnight.) Nonetheless, speed in manufacturing is always an attractive option for any product. It just might not offer a change to the graphene landscape as much as a few “killer apps” might.
Categories: Nanotechnology News

Graphene-Enabled Paper Makes for Flexible Display

InterNano Industry News - March 2, 2017 - 4:45am
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> By applying a voltage to graphene sandwiching a piece of paper, researchers have created a new display technology Images: Bilkent University Graphene has been building quite a reputation for itself in flexible displays. Among the ways graphene has been used in this field is as an alternative to the relatively scarce indium tin oxide (ITO), a transparent conductor that controls display pixels. Graphene has also been used in a display’s pixel electronics, or backplane, where a solution-processed graphene is used as an electrode. Now researchers at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, have demonstrated that an ordinary sheet of paper that is sandwiched between two films of multilayer graphene can act as a rudimentary flexible electronic display. In an interview with Nature Photonics , the corresponding author, Coskun Kocabas, says that this system could serve as a framework for turning ordinary printing paper into an optoelectronic display. Kocabas explained: We would like to fabricate a display device that can reconfigure the displayed information electronically on a sheet of printing paper. Several technologies based on electrophoretic motion of particles, thermochromic dyes and electrowetting of liquids have been developed to realize electronic paper, or e-paper, which has great potential for consumer electronics. Contrasting with the primary aim of e-paper, these technologies, however, are not compatible with conventional cellulose-based printing papers. The researchers described their device in the journal ACS Photonics. It operates by applying a bias voltage to the graphene to trigger an intercalation of ions so that the optical absorption of the graphene layers is altered. That turns them from transparent to dark and back again. (Intercalation is the reversible inclusion of a molecule or ions between two other molecules in multilayered structures or compounds.) In the experiments, the display’s transition to transparent takes a bit of time— about 4 seconds; reverting to its darker form takes under half a second. While this may be suitable for signs that don’t need to change their images that often, the lapse is still too long for display applications that require quick refresh times. The multilayer graphene was produced through chemical vapor deposition in which the graphene is grown on a metal surface inside a furnace. After it’s removed from the furnace, the metal is etched away, leaving a thin film of graphene on the surface of the water in which the etching occurs. Then the paper is simply submersed into the liquid, which transfers the thin film of graphene onto the paper. While the initial experiments showed that there were some issues with oxidation of the doped graphene layers, the researchers believe that this hiccup can be overcome with the addition of a simple polymer coating. In future research, Kocabas and his colleagues are planning to make a fully functional sheet of e-paper with pixels and an integrated driving circuit. They would like to see the process they have developed adapted into a roll-to-roll-compatible manufacturing process.
Categories: Nanotechnology News

At UChicago's Nanofabrication Facility, Innovation Happens on a Molecular Scale - Chicago Inno

InterNano Industry News - March 2, 2017 - 4:45am
At UChicago's Nanofabrication Facility, Innovation Happens on a Molecular ScaleChicago InnoThis February UChicago's Institute for Molecular Engineering (IME) opened the 10,000 square foot Pritzker Nanofabrication Facility, which features fabrication tools that allow researchers and industry to create and experiment with materials that make ...
Categories: Nanotechnology News

Duane Boning named LeBel Professor

InterNano Industry News - February 24, 2017 - 4:45am
Duane Boning has been named the Clarence J. LeBel Professor of Electrical Engineering. The chair is named for Clarence Joseph LeBel '26, SM '27, who co-founded Audio Devices in 1937, and was a pioneer in recording discs, magnetic media for tapes, and in hearing aids and stethoscopes. “Boning’s teaching is recognized as outstanding at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and he is a leader in the field of manufacturing and design,” said Anantha Chandrakasan, the Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). “This is fitting recognition of his outstanding contributions to research, teaching, mentoring, and service.” Boning’s research focuses on manufacturing and design, with emphasis on statistical modeling, control, and variation reduction in semiconductor, MEMS, photonic, and nanomanufacturing processes. His early work developed computer integrated manufacturing approaches for flexible design of IC fabrication processes. He also drove the development and adoption of run-by-run, sensor-based, and real-time model-based control methods in the semiconductor industry. He is a leader in the characterization and modeling of spatial variation in IC and nanofabrication processes, including plasma etch and chemical-mechanical polishing (CMP), where test mask design and modeling tools developed in his group have been commercialized and adopted in industry. Boning served as editor in chief for the IEEE Transactions on Semiconductor Manufacturing from 2001 to 2011, and was named a fellow of the IEEE for contributions to modeling and control in semiconductor manufacturing in 2005. In addition to creating the graduate-level course 6.780J/2.830J (Control of Manufacturing Process), he has lectured in several core EECS subjects, including 6.003 (Signals and Systems) and 6.001 (Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs), and is also an outstanding recitation and laboratory instructor. His teaching has been recognized with the MIT Ruth and Joel Spira Teaching Award. Boning won the Best Advisor Award from the MIT ACM/IEEE student organization in 2012 and the 2016 Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising in the School of Engineering.   Boning served as associate head from Electrical Engineering in EECS from 2004 to 2011. He has previously and presently serves as associate director in the Microsystems Technology Laboratories, where he oversees the information technology and computer-aided design services organization in the laboratories. He is a long-standing and active participant in the MIT Leaders for Global Operations program. Since 2011, he has served as the director for the MIT/Masdar Institute Cooperative Program, fostering many joint activities between MIT and Masdar Institute. From 2011 through 2013, he served as founding faculty lead in the MIT Skoltech Initiative, working to launch the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech). Within MIT, Boning has served on several Institute committees, including as chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid (CUAFA) in 2007, and he will serve as chair of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP) in 2016-2017.
Categories: Nanotechnology News

Wireless, wearable toxic-gas detector

InterNano Industry News - February 24, 2017 - 4:45am
MIT researchers have developed low-cost chemical sensors, made from chemically altered carbon nanotubes, that enable smartphones or other wireless devices to detect trace amounts of toxic gases. Using the sensors, the researchers hope to design lightweight, inexpensive radio-frequency identification (RFID) badges to be used for personal safety and security. Such badges could be worn by soldiers on the battlefield to rapidly detect the presence of chemical weapons — such as nerve gas or choking agents — and by people who work around hazardous chemicals prone to leakage.   “Soldiers have all this extra equipment that ends up weighing way too much and they can’t sustain it,” says Timothy Swager, the John D. MacArthur Professor of Chemistry and lead author on a paper describing the sensors that was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. “We have something that would weigh less than a credit card. And [soldiers] already have wireless technologies with them, so it’s something that can be readily integrated into a soldier’s uniform that can give them a protective capacity.” The sensor is a circuit loaded with carbon nanotubes, which are normally highly conductive but have been wrapped in an insulating material that keeps them in a highly resistive state. When exposed to certain toxic gases, the insulating material breaks apart, and the nanotubes become significantly more conductive. This sends a signal that’s readable by a smartphone with near-field communication (NFC) technology, which allows devices to transmit data over short distances. The sensors are sensitive enough to detect less than 10 parts per million of target toxic gases in about five seconds. “We are matching what you could do with benchtop laboratory equipment, such as gas chromatographs and spectrometers, that is far more expensive and requires skilled operators to use,” Swager says. Moreover, the sensors each cost about a nickel to make; roughly 4 million can be made from about 1 gram of the carbon nanotube materials. “You really can’t make anything cheaper,” Swager says. “That’s a way of getting distributed sensing into many people’s hands.” The paper’s other co-authors are from Swager’s lab: Shinsuke Ishihara, a postdoc who is also a member of the International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics at the National Institute for Materials Science, in Japan; and PhD students Joseph Azzarelli and Markrete Krikorian.  Wrapping nanotubes In recent years, Swager’s lab has developed other inexpensive, wireless sensors, called chemiresistors, that have detected spoiled meat and the ripeness of fruit, among other things. All are designed similarly, with carbon nanotubes that are chemically modified, so their ability to carry an electric current changes when exposed to a target chemical. This time, the researchers designed sensors highly sensitive to “electrophilic,” or electron-loving, chemical substances, which are often toxic and used for chemical weapons. To do so, they created a new type of metallo-supramolecular polymer, a material made of metals binding to polymer chains. The polymer acts as an insulation, wrapping around each of the sensor’s tens of thousands of single-walled carbon nanotubes, separating them and keeping them highly resistant to electricity. But electrophilic substances trigger the polymer to disassemble, allowing the carbon nanotubes to once again come together, which leads to an increase in conductivity. In their study, the researchers drop-cast the nanotube/polymer material onto gold electrodes, and exposed the electrodes to diethyl chlorophosphate, a skin irritant and reactive simulant of nerve gas. Using a device that measures electric current, they observed a 2,000 percent increase in electrical conductivity after five seconds of exposure. Similar conductivity increases were observed for trace amounts of numerous other electrophilic substances, such as thionyl chloride (SOCl2), a reactive simulant in choking agents. Conductivity was significantly lower in response to common volatile organic compounds, and exposure to most nontarget chemicals actually increased resistivity. Creating the polymer was a delicate balancing act but critical to the design, Swager says. As a polymer, the material needs to hold the carbon nanotubes apart. But as it disassembles, its individual monomers need to interact more weakly, letting the nanotubes regroup. “We hit this sweet spot where it only works when it’s all hooked together,” Swager says. Resistance is readable To build their wireless system, the researchers created an NFC tag that turns on when its electrical resistance dips below a certain threshold. Smartphones send out short pulses of electromagnetic fields that resonate with an NFC tag at radio frequency, inducing an electric current, which relays information to the phone. But smartphones can’t resonate with tags that have a resistance higher than 1 ohm. The researchers applied their nanotube/polymer material to the NFC tag’s antenna. When exposed to 10 parts per million of SOCl2 for five seconds, the material’s resistance dropped to the point that the smartphone could ping the tag. Basically, it’s an “on/off indicator” to determine if toxic gas is present, Swager says. According to the researchers, such a wireless system could be used to detect leaks in Li-SOCl2 (lithium thionyl chloride) batteries, which are used in medical instruments, fire alarms, and military systems. Alexander Star, a professor of chemistry and bioengineering and clinical and translational science at the University of Pittsburgh, says the researchers’ design for a wireless sensor (or dosimeter) for electrophilic substances could improve soldier safety. “The authors were able to synthesize a [carbon nanotube] composite sensitive to … a class of chemicals of high interest for sensing,” Star says. “This type of device architecture is important for real-life application, due to the fact that a chemical weapon dosimeter worn by military and security personnel requires rapid reading.” The next step, Swager says, is to test the sensors on live chemical agents, outside of the lab, which are more dispersed and harder to detect, especially at trace levels. In the future, there’s also hope for developing a mobile app that could make more sophisticated measurements of the signal strength of an NFC tag: Differences in the signal will mean higher or lower concentrations of a toxic gas. “But creating new cell phone apps is a little beyond us right now,” Swager says. “We’re chemists.” The work was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.
Categories: Nanotechnology News

Lithium-Sulfur Batteries Overcome Another Limitation: High Temperatures

InterNano Industry News - February 24, 2017 - 4:45am
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> Could safe, durable and high-temperature Li-S batteries lead to EV applications? Image: iStockphoto Lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries have been pursued as an alternative to lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries for powering electric vehicles due to their ability to hold up to four times as much energy per unit mass as Li-ion. However, Li-S batteries don’t come without some problems. For instance, the sulfur in the electrode can become depleted after just a few charge-discharge cycles, or polysulfides can pass through the cathode and foul the electrolyte. Another issue Li-S batteries face is the difficulty of ensuring that they operate safely at high temperatures due to their low boiling and flash temperatures. Now, researchers at the University of Western Ontario, in collaboration with a team from the Canadian Light Source, have leveraged a relatively new coating technique dubbed molecular layer deposition (MLD) that promises to lead to safe and durable high-temperature Li-S batteries. This MLD technique is essentially an adaptation of the conventional atomic layer deposition (ALD) techniques that have been used to deposit thin inorganic oxide films. Where MLD departs from its predecessor is that it can incorporate organic components into the films, making it possible to create hybrid organic-inorganic thin films. MLD is a technique that has proven itself applicable for use in energy storage systems; it provides a high level of control over film thickness and the chemical composition of the target material at a molecular scale. In research described in the journal Nano Letters , the Canadian researchers were able to fabricate safe, high-temperature Li–S batteries on universal carbon–sulfur electrodes using an MLD alucone coating “We demonstrated that MLD alucone coating offers a safe and versatile approach toward lithium-sulfur batteries at elevated temperature,” said Andy Xueliang Sun, who led the research at the University of Western Ontario, in a press release. In the experiments, the researchers demonstrated that the MLD alucone coated carbon-sulfur electrodes remained stable and even showed improved performance at temperatures as high as 55 degrees Celsius. The researchers expect that these performance figures should significantly prolong battery life for high-temperature Li-S batteries.
Categories: Nanotechnology News

Mass Innovation Labs Welcomes Three New Resident Companies Into Its “Bench on Demand” Laboratory Space - Business Wire (press release)

InterNano Industry News - February 24, 2017 - 4:45am
Mass Innovation Labs Welcomes Three New Resident Companies Into Its “Bench on Demand” Laboratory SpaceBusiness Wire (press release)BUSINESS WIRE)--Mass Innovation Labs, an accelerated commercialization space located in Kendall Square, announced today the arrival of three new resident companies into its “Bench on Demand” laboratory space for early-stage biopharmaceutical and life ...and more »
Categories: Nanotechnology News

Brazil joins race to commercialise graphene

InterNano Industry News - February 22, 2017 - 4:45am
A new graphene and nanomaterials research centre, known as MackGraphe, has officially opened in São Paulo
Categories: Nanotechnology News

Australia opens £80 million nanoscience hub

InterNano Industry News - February 22, 2017 - 4:45am
University of Sydney has unveiled the country’s first purpose-built nanoscience institute
Categories: Nanotechnology News

Nanoworld Snow Blowers Carve Straight Channels in Semiconductor Surfaces

InterNano Industry News - February 22, 2017 - 4:45am
In the nanoworld, tiny particles of gold can operate like snow blowers, churning through surface layers of an important class of semiconductors to dig unerringly straight paths. The surprising trenching capability, reported by scientists ...
Categories: Nanotechnology News

To Give Cancer a Deadly Fever, NIST Explores Better Nanoparticle Design

InterNano Industry News - February 18, 2017 - 4:45am
Heat may be the key to killing certain types of cancer, and new research from a team including National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) scientists has yielded unexpected results that should help optimize the design of ...
Categories: Nanotechnology News

Nanoelectronics Conference Focuses on Future of Semiconductor Manufacturing

InterNano Industry News - February 18, 2017 - 4:45am
The characterization technology needed for nanoelectronic materials and device research, development, and manufacturing was discussed by experts from industry, government, and academia at the 2015 International Conference on Frontiers of ...
Categories: Nanotechnology News

NIST Study Suggests Light May Be Skewing Lab Tests on Nanoparticlesapos Health Effects

InterNano Industry News - February 16, 2017 - 4:45am
Truth shines a light into dark places. But sometimes to find that truth in the first place, its better to stay in the dark. Thats what recent findings* at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) show about methods for ...
Categories: Nanotechnology News

Novel Sodium-Conducting Material Could Improve Rechargeable Batteries

InterNano Industry News - February 16, 2017 - 4:45am
Rechargeable battery manufacturers may get a jolt from research performed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and several other institutions, where a team of scientists has discovered* a safe, inexpensive, ...
Categories: Nanotechnology News

NIST Offers Electronics Industry Two Ways to Snoop on Self-Organizing Molecules

InterNano Industry News - February 16, 2017 - 4:45am
A few short years ago, the idea of a practical manufacturing process based on getting molecules to organize themselves in useful nanoscale shapes seemed … well, cool, sure, but also a little fantastic. Now the day isnt far off when your ...
Categories: Nanotechnology News

Optical Microscope Technique Confirmed as Valid Nano-Measurement Tool

InterNano Industry News - February 16, 2017 - 4:45am
Recent experiments have confirmed* that a technique developed several years ago at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) can enable optical microscopes to measure the three-dimensional (3-D) shape of objects at ...
Categories: Nanotechnology News

Nano: a cleaner option?

InterNano Industry News - February 16, 2017 - 4:45am
Could nanotechnology tidy up the planet without leaving a dangerous residue of its own?It's likely that you've recently swirled nanotechnology down your sink. Antimicrobial silver nanoparticles, for example, are added to food containers, socks, and cleaning products such as floor polish. But could nanoparticles – measuring less than 100 nanometres wide – clean more than just your house? Could nanotechnology tidy up the planet without leaving a dangerous residue of its own?The European Environment Agency estimates that "potentially polluting activities" have occurred at nearly three million EU sites. But nanoparticles could remediate water, soil and air polluted by compounds such as heavy metals and aromatic hydrocarbons. With high reactivity and a larger surface area than the same mass of material in a larger form, nanoparticles are prime candidates for capturing and destroying pollutants. Continue reading...
Categories: Nanotechnology News

Launching the New PSS Website: pssnicomp.com

InterNano Industry News - February 8, 2017 - 4:45am
Particle Sizing Systems launches our new website at www.pssnicomp.com. Please visit our new site that includes additional content and features including: Additional application explanations...
Categories: Nanotechnology News

Companies Now Can Bring Fast and Accurate Nanoparticle Analysis In-House

InterNano Industry News - February 8, 2017 - 4:45am
Nanotechnology manufacturers seeking ways to measure and analyze nanoparticles now have a simple, fast, accurate and cost-effective tool thanks to the recent release of NanoMet by developer...
Categories: Nanotechnology News