- Education & Outreach
National Nanomanufacturing Network
Engineers working in the nanoscale will have a new tool at their disposal thanks to an international group of researchers led by Drexel University’s College of Engineering. This innovative procedure could alleviate the persistent challenge of measuring key features of electron behavior while designing the ever-shrinking components that allow cell phones, laptops and tablets to get increasingly thinner and more energy efficient.
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have manifested exceptional mechanical, chemical, and electrical properties since their discovery in 1991 [1 (#1),2 (#2)]. In practice, to fully achieve the exceptional properties of CNTs in the macro scale for composites, a major challenge is to achieve high loading, uniform dispersion and alignment of CNTs, and strong interface between CNTs and the matrix material in composites, while working with the small dimensioned CNTs.
With the exponential growth of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) extending from research and development to commercial products, the daunting challenge of conducting effective risk assessment and life-cycle analysis for these materials is presented. Of primary concern is the potential for human exposure that may lead to adverse outcomes, which traditionally utilizes animal studies and specific protocols to identify exposure risks. With increasing emphasis on understanding the basis for adverse outcomes, numerous approaches incorporating predictive modeling combined with expanded in vitro and short term in vivo studies have fostered a conceptual shift in toxicological studies of ENMs. Driven by advances in chemical testing methodologies, a new paradigm for understanding exposure risks for ENMs will combine high throughput screening (HTS), high content screening (HCS), and predictive modeling to significantly reduce the reliance on animal studies while increasing the rate of data driven knowledge and the understanding of nanomaterials. While this should draw a collective sigh of relief from government regulators and industry alike, specific data are limited to establish effective policies for risk assessment covering emerging ENMs without the need for further extensive studies and financial burdens.
Engineers at the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) (http://www.nist.gov/cnst/index-test.cfm) have developed a new technique for fabricating high aspect ratio three-dimensional (3D) nanostructures over large device areas using a combination of electron beam (e-beam) lithography, photolithography, and resist spray coating. While it has long been possible to make complicated 3D structures with many mask layers or expensive grayscale masks, the new technique enables researchers to etch trenches and other high aspect ratio structures with nanometer scale features without using masks and in only two process stages.
Leveraging the amazing natural properties of the Morpho butterfly's wings, scientists have developed a nanobiocomposite material that shows promise for wearable electronic devices, highly sensitive light sensors and sustainable batteries. A report on the new hybrid material appears in the journal ACS Nano (http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/nn403083v).
A new metamaterial has been developed exhibiting hundreds of times greater strength than pure metals. Professor Seung Min, Han and Yoo Sung, Jeong (Graduate School of Energy, Environment, Water, and Sustainability (EEWS)) and Professor Seok Woo, Jeon (Department of Material Science and Engineering) have developed a composite nanomaterial at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).