CRS Prepares “Policy Primer” on Nanotechnology

July 6th, 2016

  • The Congressional Research Service (CRS) prepared a June 28, 2016, report, Nanotechnology: A Policy Primer. See The report provides an overview of federal research and development (R&D) in nanotechnology, U.S. competitiveness in the field, environmental, health, and safety (EHS) concerns, nanomanufacturing, and public understanding of and attitudes toward nanotechnology. According to the report, while more than 60 nations established similar programs after the launch of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), “it appears that several have moved away from centralized, coordinated nanotechnology-focused programs (e.g., the United Kingdom, Japan, Russia), some in favor of market- or application-oriented topic areas (e.g., health care technologies).” Using the criteria of R&D expenditures and non-financial outputs such as scientific papers or patents, the U.S. “appears to be the overall global leader in nanotechnology, though some believe the U.S. lead may not be as large as it was for previous emerging technologies.” The report states that in recent years, China and the European Union (EU) Member States have surpassed the U.S. in the publication of nanotechnology papers. The report notes that there is general agreement that more research on EHS implications is needed to protect the public and the environment, assess and manage risks, and create a regulatory environment that “fosters prudent investment in nanotechnology-related innovation.” Nanomanufacturing may require the development of new technologies, tools, instruments, measurement science, and standards, while public understanding and attitudes may also affect the environment for R&D, regulation, and market acceptance of products incorporating nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology-based solution to boost oil recovery

Jun 27, 2016

  • Researchers from the University of Houston have reported the discovery of a nanotechnology-based solution that could address both issues – achieving 15 percent tertiary oil recovery at low cost, without the large volume of chemicals used in most commercial fluids. The solution – graphene-based Janus amphiphilic nanosheets – is effective at a concentration of just 0.01 percent, meeting or exceeding the performance of both conventional and other nanotechnology-based fluids, said Zhifeng Ren, MD Anderson Chair professor of physics. Janus nanoparticles have at least two physical properties, allowing different chemical reactions on the same particle. In addition to Ren, researchers involved with the project include Ching-Wu “Paul” Chu, chief scientist at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH; graduate students Dan Luo and Yuan Liu; researchers Feng Wang and Feng Cao; Richard C. Willson, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering; and Jingyi Zhu, Xiaogang Li and Zhaozhong Yang, all of Southwest Petroleum University in Chengdu, China.

Novel capping strategy improves stability of perovskite nanocrystals: Study addresses instability issues with organometal-halide perovskites, a promising class of materials for solar cells, LEDs, and other applications

June 13th, 2016

  • Perovskite materials have shown great promise for use in next-generation solar cells, light-emitting devices (LEDs), sensors, and other applications, but their instability remains a critical limitation. “This new strategy to stabilize organometal-halide perovskites is an important step in the right direction,” said corresponding author Jin Zhang, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UC Santa Cruz. “Our hope is that this could be used not only for perovskite nanocrystals but also for bulk materials and thin films used in applications such as photovoltaics.” The first author of the paper on perovskite nanocrystals is Binbin Luo, a visiting researcher in Zhang’s lab. Other coauthors include Ying-Chih Pu at the National University of Tainan, Taiwan; Sarah Lindley, Yi Yang, Liqiang Lu, and Yat Li at UC Santa Cruz; and Xueming Li at Chongqing University, China. This work was supported by NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Nanogenerator powers implantable heart monitor

Jun 07, 2016

  • Over the past decade, the increased in vivo stability, miniaturization, and lower energy requirement of electronics have hugely promoted the applications of physiological signal sensors, intelligent gastric and cardiac pacemakers, cochlear implants, and deep brain stimulators; millions of people rely on such implantable medical devices for improved quality of life. Researchers from the U.S. and China have now demonstrated an implantable triboelectric nanogenerator (iTENG) for in vivo biomechanical energy harvesting, which has a multilayered structure and exhibits outstanding in vivo performance and stability.

A nanotechnology approach to scavenging wind and solar energy in cities

May 23, 2016

  • More than 60 research groups worldwide are now developing variations of the triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG), which converts ambient mechanical energy into electricity for powering wearable electronics, sensor networks, implantable medical devices and other small systems. An interesting approach comes from a group of Chinese scientists who propose to scavenge the large amounts of wasted wind energy in cities. In a paper in the May 5, 2016 online edition of ACS Nano (“Efficient Scavenging of Solar and Wind Energies in a Smart City”), they propose hybridized nanogenerator that consists of a solar cell and a TENG, which can be utilized to individually or simultaneously scavenge solar and wind energies.

Speedy ion conduction in solid electrolytes clears road for advanced energy devices

May 5th, 2016

  • Now, a team led by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has used state-of-the-art microscopy to identify a previously undetected feature, about 5 billionths of a meter (nanometers) wide, in a solid electrolyte. The work experimentally verifies the importance of that feature to fast ion transport, and corroborates the observations with theory. The new mechanism the researchers report in Advanced Energy Materials points out a new strategy for the design of highly conductive solid electrolytes. “The solid electrolyte is one of the most important factors in enabling safe, high-power, high-energy, solid-state batteries,” said first author Cheng Ma of ORNL, who conducted most of the study’s experiments. “But currently the low conductivity has limited its applications.”

Ink with carbon nanodots luminesces via three different mechanisms

May 5, 2016

  • Banknotes, documents, branded products, and sensitive goods like pharmaceuticals or technical components are often marked to distinguish them from imitations. However, some counterfeiters have learned to copy conventional fluorescent tags. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, Chinese scientists have now introduced a new, exceptional anti-counterfeit ink made with carbon nanodots. Their ingenious composite material emits three different types of luminescence. A material that emits light in three different ways at room temperature would be a first. The team led by Hengwei Lin at the Ningbo Institute of Materials Technology & Engineering of Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of Chongqing, and Southeast University in Nanjing, has successfully produced such a substance based on carbon nanodots—luminescent nanomaterials, which have attracted much attention in recent years due to their unique optical properties and extremely low toxicity.

Nanotechnology in Germany and China


  • Germany and China are the leading nations in nanotechnology besides the US and Japan. While Germany’s nanotechnology sector has a longer history than China, China’s nanotechnology industry has developed rapidly in a short time. Patenting from research institutes stand nearly on the same level in both countries. However in China, the main part of these patents is possessed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (66% of overall 2,078 patents). In regard to the share of patents assigned by individuals, there’s a much higher amount for China than for Germany.

Scientists develop triple-stage ‘cluster bomb’ system to deliver cisplatin drug through nanoparticles

March 30, 2016

  • Scientists have devised a triple-stage “cluster bomb” system for delivering the chemotherapy drug cisplatin, via tiny nanoparticles designed to break up when they reach a tumor. The PNAS paper is the result of a collaboration between and a team led by professor Jun Wang, PhD at the University of Science and Technology of China, and researchers led by professor Shuming Nie, PhD in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory. Nie is a member of the Discovery and Developmental Therapeutics research program at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. The lead authors are graduate student Hong-Jun Li and postdoctoral fellows Jinzhi Du, PhD and Xiao-Jiao Du, PhD.

Simple graphene cascade allows unprecedented insights into nanoionics

February 15, 2016

  • Until now, the phenomenon of nanoscale ionic transport has remained a mystery to researchers. Latest research from the Monash Centre for Atomically Thin Materials (MCATM) at Monash University has now revealed a new, inexpensive and reliable method for studying the way ions move through tiny, nanosized channels. This research could hold the key to applications such as high-power energy storage, efficient desalination, and bioelectronics such as modulation of neural signalling. According to the first author of the research, Dr Chi Cheng, a postdoctoral researcher from MCATM, “The work demonstrates an unconventional way to use graphene to make nanofluidic devices, a novel research tool tuneable at length scale ranges that cannot be achieved with any other material. With this, we are able to unveil the fundamental, yet unusual ion transport behaviours as a function of channel size across the entire sub-10 nm length scales.” Research lead and Director of MCATM, Professor Dan Li, was enthusiastic about the potential impact of this development.

Physicists create artificial ‘graphene’

Feb 02, 2016

  • An international group of physicists led by the University of Arkansas has created an artificial material with a structure comparable to graphene. “We’ve basically created the first artificial graphene-like structure with transition metal atoms in place of carbon atoms,” said Jak Chakhalian, professor of physics and director of the Artificial Quantum Materials Laboratory at the U of A. Additional members of the group were David Doennig of the University of Munich, Rossitza Pentcheva of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, Zhenzhong Yang, Jinan Shi and Lin Gu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; and John W. Freeland and Phillip Ryan of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago.

Announcing The First Woven Nanomaterial

22 January 2016

  • Scientists led by the Berkeley Lab and the University of California Berkeley have woven together the first 3D COF made of synthetic materials. COFs, or covalent organic frameworks, are often used to store things like hydrogen and methane. The creators say these COFs are superior to their competitors in that they are more flexible and resilient, and presumably harder to break down. Yuzhong Liu1,, Yanhang Ma2,, Yingbo Zhao1,*, Xixi Sun1, Felipe Gándara3, Hiroyasu Furukawa1, Zheng Liu4, Hanyu Zhu5, Chenhui Zhu6, Kazutomo Suenaga4, Peter Oleynikov2, Ahmad S. Alshammari7, Xiang Zhang5,8, Osamu Terasaki2,9,†, Omar M. Yaghi1,7,†

Localized oxidative killing of tumor cells by glassy iron nanoparticles

Jan 20, 2016

  • morphous iron nanoparticles have a specific toxicity in tumor cells. In the journal Angewandte Chemie (“Synthesis of Iron Nanometallic Glasses and Their Application in Cancer Therapy by a Localized Fenton Reaction”), Chinese scientists describe their design and synthesis of a special amorphous state of nanoparticulate iron, which can locally release reactive iron species in the acidic and hydrogen peroxide rich environment of cancer cells, providing new possibilities for theranostics and chemodynamic therapies.

A nanoscale look at why a new alloy Is amazingly tough

Jan 08, 2016

  • Just in time for the icy grip of winter: A team of researchers led by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has identified several mechanisms that make a new, cold-loving material one of the toughest metallic alloys ever. The alloy is made of chromium, manganese, iron, cobalt and nickel, so scientists call it CrMnFeCoNi. It’s exceptionally tough and strong at room temperature, which translates into excellent ductility, tensile strength, and resistance to fracture. And unlike most materials, the alloy becomes tougher and stronger the colder it gets, making it an intriguing possibility for use in cryogenic applications such as storage tanks for liquefied natural gas. “We analyzed the alloy in earlier work and found spectacular properties: high toughness and strength, which are usually mutually exclusive in a material,” says Robert Ritchie, a scientist with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division who led the research with Qian Yu of China’s Zhejiang University and several other scientists.

Researchers demonstrate tracking of individual catalyst nanoparticles during heating

Dec 18, 2015

  • Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., have taken atomic-level images of individual nanoparticles during heating that could lead to improved fuel-cell technologies at lower cost, reduce dependence on imported oil and minimize greenhouse gas emissions. McMaster’s research team comprising of Sagar Prabhudev (Materials Science and Engineering PhD Student), Dr. Matthieu Bugnet (Post-doctoral researcher) and Botton carried out their work in collaboration with Dr. Christina Bock (NRC, Ottawa) and Dr. Guozhen Zhu (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China).

Researchers discover how to manipulate nanomaterials


  • Xi’an Jiaotong University, one of China’s top universities based in Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province, recently found a new method to significantly control the morphology and properties of micro/nano scale Zinc Oxide. The method was found with advanced in situ transmission electron microscopy technology by the researchers of the school’s micro/nano scale material behavior research center, and has significant implications for the application of ZnO nanowires in nano devices such as nano generators. This research result has recently been published online in the top journal of the material field (NanoLetters,DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b02852).

Nanographene charge trapping memory could further miniaturize flash

November 5, 2015

  • Flash memory—the data storage method often used in phones, computers, and other devices—is continually being miniaturized in order to improve device performance. In an attempt to reduce the short-circuiting that often occurs as memory cells become smaller and more closely packed, researchers have been investigating graphene-based charge trapping memory as an alternative to the traditional floating gate memory. Now in a new paper, researchers have developed a nanographene-based charge trapping memory that exhibits some of the best performance statistics for any such device reported to date. The researchers, led by Dongxia Shi and Guangyu Zhang at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing (Zhang is also with the Collaborative Innovation Center of Quantum Matter in Beijing), have published a paper on the new memory device in a recent issue of Nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology offers new approach to increasing storage ability of dielectric capacitors

Oct 24, 2015

  • While the flux capacitor still conjures sci-fi images, capacitors are now key components of portable electronics, computing systems, and electric vehicles. In contrast to batteries, which offer high storage capacity but slow delivery of energy, capacitors provide fast delivery but poor storage capacity. A great deal of effort has been devoted to improving this feature — known as energy density — of dielectric capacitors, which comprise an insulating material sandwiched between two conducting metal plates. Now, a group of researchers at the University of Delaware and the Chinese Academy of Sciences has successfully used nanotechnology to achieve this goal.

Can the world’s smallest nano-thermometer be used to diagnose cancer early? Chinese team sees ray of hope in new breakthrough

15 October, 2015

  • Chinese scientists claim to have developed the world’s smallest thermometer, which is capable of measuring the temperature of individual cells and gauging their health. Each instrument is made of tiny particles only a few nanometers in diameter. The minuscule particles contain light-emitting materials that makes it easy for them to enter a living cell.

Scientists found a natural nanostructure to control the flow of light

October 4th, 2015

  • Optical and photonic devices have become critical in current military and civil applications, such as laser weapons, remote sensing and infrared detection. Traditional optical devices are bulky and heavy because they rely on the phase accumulation on a long optical path. In an article published in Science Advances, a journal founded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Prof. Xiangang Luo from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the co-workers have now demonstrated that ultrathin and lightweight optical devices could be constructed using nanostructures catenaries, which were typically used in architectures to construct incredible buildings. Two of the famous catenaries are the arches under the roof of Gaudí’s Casa Milà, Barcelona, Spain and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, United States.

Scientist hailed for work in nanotech


  • Chinese-American physicist Wang Zhonglin has been recognized as one of the 2015 Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates, an annual list of researchers with the highest potential to win a Nobel Prize, Thomson Reuters said on its website on Thursday. Having a good track record of forecasting Nobel Prize winners since it was launched in 2002, the Citation Laureates identifies the most influential researchers in the fields of chemistry, physics, medicine and economics by analyzing a researcher’s academic publications and citations in the past 30 years, and evaluating their contributions to cutting-edge research.

Hierarchically arranged helical fibre actuators driven by solvents and vapours

31 July 2015

  • Mechanical responsiveness in many plants is produced by helical organizations of cellulose microfibrils. However, simple mimicry of these naturally occurring helical structures does not produce artificial materials with the desired tunable actuations. Here, we show that actuating fibres that respond to solvent and vapour stimuli can be created through the hierarchical and helical assembly of aligned carbon nanotubes. Primary fibres consisting of helical assemblies of multiwalled carbon nanotubes are twisted together to form the helical actuating fibres. The nanoscale gaps between the nanotubes and micrometre-scale gaps among the primary fibres contribute to the rapid response and large actuation stroke of the actuating fibres. The compact coils allow the actuating fibre to rotate reversibly. We show that these fibres, which are lightweight, flexible and strong, are suitable for a variety of applications such as energy-harvesting generators, deformable sensing springs and smart textiles. Peining Chen, Yifan Xu, Sisi He, Xuemei Sun, Shaowu Pan, Jue Deng, Daoyong Chen & Huisheng Peng

Chinese scientists develop ‘smart fibers’


  • Chinese scientists have developed new smart fibers that react after exposure to certain stimuli, giving possibility to smart clothes, automatic window shades and artificial limbs with the sensitivity of human muscles. Ranging between a nanometer and micrometer in size, the fibers can be moved and controlled, capable of motion such as shifting clockwise or contracting, said Professor Peng Huisheng, who led the research team from Shanghai-based Fudan University.

Nano-dunes with the ion beam: New method for self-organized nanostructures

September 8, 2015

  • Many semiconductor devices in modern technology – from integrated circuits to solar cells and LEDs – are based on nanostructures. Producing arrays of regular nanostructures usually requires substantial effort. If they were self-organized, the production of such devices would be considerably faster and the costs would therefore sink. Dr. Stefan Facsko from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and Dr. Xin Ou from the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology (SIMIT), Chinese Academy of Sciences, have now demonstrated a method for self-organization of nanostructured arrays via broad ion beam irradiation. The results have been published in the scientific journal Nanoscale.

Lighting up cancer cells with nanocrystals to identify low concentrations of diseased cells

Aug 20, 2015

  • Researchers in China have developed tiny nanocrystals that could be used in the next generation of medical imaging technologies to light up cancer cells. In a study published in the inaugural issue of the journal Applied Materials Today (“Synthesis of high-quality lanthanide oxybromides nanocrystals with single-source precursor for promising applications in cancer cells imaging”), the team of researchers describe how they make these films which are based on the heavy metals lanthanum and europium.

“Yolks” and “shells” improve rechargeable batteries: Aluminum could give a big boost to capacity and power of lithium-ion batteries

August 5th, 2015

  • One big problem faced by electrodes in rechargeable batteries, as they go through repeated cycles of charging and discharging, is that they must expand and shrink during each cycle — sometimes doubling in volume, and then shrinking back. This can lead to repeated shedding and reformation of its “skin” layer that consumes lithium irreversibly, degrading the battery’s performance over time. Now a team of researchers at MIT and Tsinghua University in China has found a novel way around that problem: creating an electrode made of nanoparticles with a solid shell, and a “yolk” inside that can change size again and again without affecting the shell. The innovation could drastically improve cycle life, the team says, and provide a dramatic boost in the battery’s capacity and power.

A new way to black gold

Jul 24, 2015

  • If colloidal gold self-assembles into the form of larger vesicles, a three-dimensional state can be achieved that is called “black gold” because it absorbs almost the entire spectrum of visible light. How this novel intense plasmonic state can be established and what its characteristics and potential medical applications are is explored by Chinese scientists and reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie (“Black Gold: Plasmonic Colloidosomes with Broadband Absorption Self-Assembled from Monodispersed Gold Nanospheres by Using a Reverse Emulsion System”).

Nanoscale optical emitter and absorber appears to be 10,000 times its actual size


  • University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers and their colleagues at Fudan University (Shanghai,China) have created a nanoscale device that has the optical cross-section of an object 10,000 times its size. They showed how a single nanoresonator can manipulate light to make itself appear very large as both an absorber and an emitter. The researchers created an optical nanoresonator in which the wavelength of light is much larger than in a vacuum; the device can gather light and scatter it over a very large area, harnessing its output for imaging applications that make microscopic particles appear large.

Nano-Sized Synthetic Coral Could Suck Up Ocean’s Pollutants

July 23, 2015

  • Industrial and manufacturing processes release heavy metals such as mercury and lead into the ocean. Not only can it kill wildlife, but it can lead to terrible physical and cognitive side effects in humans who consume fish that have absorbed the pollutants as well. In a study published in the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, researchers at Anhui Jianzhu University in China created nano-sized, coral-like structures that use aluminum oxide to absorb mercury out of the water.

Ultra-thin hollow nanocages could reduce platinum use in fuel cell electrodes

Jul 23, 2015

  • A new fabrication technique that produces platinum hollow nanocages with ultra-thin walls could dramatically reduce the amount of the costly metal needed to provide catalytic activity in such applications as fuel cells. The technique uses a solution-based method for producing atomic-scale layers of platinum to create hollow, porous structures that can generate catalytic activity both inside and outside the nanocages. The layers are grown on palladium nanocrystal templates, and then the palladium is etched away to leave behind nanocages approximately 20 nanometers in diameter, with between three and six atom-thin layers of platinum. The research – which also involved researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Arizona State University and Xiamen University in China – was scheduled to be reported in the July 24 issue of the journal Science (“Platinum-based nanocages with subnanometer-thick walls and well-defined, controllable facets”).

Plantations of nanorods on carpets of graphene capture sun’s energy

July 15, 2015

  • The Sun can be a better chemist, thanks to zinc oxide nanorod arrays grown on a graphene substrate and “decorated” with dots of cadmium sulphide. In the presence of solar radiation, this combination of zero and one-dimensional semiconductor structures with two-dimensional graphene is a great catalyst for many chemical reactions. The innovative photocatalytic material has been developed by a group of scientists from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw and Fuzhou University in China.

Density-near-zero acoustical metamaterial made in China

July 14, 2015

  • When a sound wave hits an obstacle and is scattered, the signal may be lost or degraded. But what if you could guide the signal around that obstacle, as if the interfering barrier didn’t even exist? Recently, researchers at Nanjing University in China created a material from polyethylene membranes that does exactly that. Their final product, described this week in the Journal of Applied Physics, was an acoustical “metamaterial” with an effective density near zero (DNZ). This work could help to endow a transmission network with coveted properties such as high transmission around sharp corners, high-efficient wave splitting, and acoustic cloaking.

Nanoparticle transport system for genes thwarts brain cancer in rats

Jul 11, 2015

  • Researchers have designed a nanoparticle transport system for gene delivery that destroys deadly brain gliomas in a rat model, significantly extending the lives of the treated animals. The nanoparticles are filled with genes for an enzyme that converts a prodrug called ganciclovir into a potent destroyer of the glioma cells. The collaborators include colleagues from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Departments of Neurosurgery, Oncology, Ophthalmology, and Pathology, as well as Tang Du Hospital in China, University of the Negevin, Israel, and the Instituto Neurologico C. Besta in Italy.

Graphene-based film can be used for efficient cooling of electronics

July 10th, 2015

  • Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have developed a method for efficiently cooling electronics using graphene-based film. The film has a thermal conductivity capacity that is four times that of copper. Moreover, the graphene film is attachable to electronic components made of silicon, which favours the film’s performance compared to typical graphene characteristics shown in previous, similar experiments. The research was conducted in collaboration with Shanghai University in China, Ecole Centrale Paris and EM2C – CNRS in France, and SHT Smart High Tech in Sweden.

Water transport inside carbon nanotubes mediated by phonon-induced oscillating friction

06 July 2015

  • The emergence of the field of nanofluidics in the last decade1 has led to the development of important applications including water desalination2, ultrafiltration2 and osmotic energy conversion3. Most applications make use of carbon nanotubes4, boron nitride nanotubes2, graphene5, 6 and graphene oxide5. In particular, understanding water transport in carbon nanotubes is key for designing ultrafiltration devices2 and energy-efficient water filters1, 4. However, although theoretical studies based on molecular dynamics simulations7, 8, 9 have revealed many mechanistic features of water transport at the molecular level, further advances in this direction are limited by the fact that the lowest flow velocities accessible by simulations7, 8, 9 are orders of magnitude higher than those measured experimentally4, 10, 11, 12, 13. Here, we extend molecular dynamics studies of water transport through carbon nanotubes to flow velocities comparable with experimental ones using massive crowd-sourced computing power. We observe previously undetected oscillations in the friction force between water and carbon nanotubes and show that these oscillations result from the coupling between confined water molecules and the longitudinal phonon modes of the nanotube. This coupling can enhance the diffusion of confined water by more than 300%. Our results may serve as a theoretical framework for the design of new devices for more efficient water filtration and osmotic energy conversion devices. ing Ma, François Grey, Luming Shen, Michael Urbakh, Shuai Wu, Jefferson Zhe Liu, Yilun Liu & Quanshui Zheng

The super materials that could trump graphene

17 June 2015

  • Work by his team and a handful of others soon showed that different combinations of the basic ingredients could produce TMDCs with a wide range of electronic and optical properties. Unlike graphene, for example, many TMDCs are semiconductors, meaning that they have the potential to be made into molecular-scale digital processors that are much more energy efficient than anything possible with silicon. A material that is just a few atoms thick can have very different fundamental properties from a material made of the same molecules in solid form. “Even if the bulk material is an old one, if you can get it into 2D form it opens up new opportunities,” says Yuanbo Zhang, an experimental condensed-matter physicist at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. Nonetheless, both Zhang and Ye succeeded in making phosphorene transistors. This year, the first transistor from silicene emerged14, although it survived for only a few minutes. Still, Le Lay is optimistic that these issues are not insurmountable. Just two years ago, he points out, Geim and other physicists were saying that a silicene transistor could not be made with current technology. “So it’s always dangerous to predict the future,” laughs Le Lay.

IBM’s Virtual Supercomputer Finds Clean Water Clue

Jul 06, 2015

  • According to a paper published today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, scientists discovered a phenomenon in which the use of carbon nanotubes, under specific conditions, could potentially lead to more efficient water filtering with less expense and less impact on the environment. Carbon nanotubes – tiny, hollow structures made of a material related to graphite in pencils – are so small that they may filter out impurities from water flowing through them. The scientific community initially expected that their narrow diameters would slow the water’s flow. Surprisingly, early experiments hinted that water is not impeded in the expected way as it passes through nanotubes. To understand why, a distinguished team of international researchers led by scientists at Tsinghua University undertook an unprecedented, massive computational simulation study powered by IBM’s World Community Grid to find out what was behind this surprise. Prior simulations performed by the scientific community were unable to study the process at realistic water flow rates because that would have required considerably more costly computing power than typically available.

Large-scale field-effect transistors based on solution-grown organic single crystals are fabricated

Jun 29, 2015

  • In an article published in Science Bulletin (“Large-scale fabrication of field-effect transistors based on solution-grown organic single crystals”), Prof. Hanying Li’s research group describe a simple solution processing method where well-aligned single-crystals of organic semiconductors throughout a 1cm × 2cm substrate can be grown from a droplet pinned by a metal needle. The well-controlled alignment of the crystals originates from the unidirectional receding of the pinned droplet regulated by the capillary force. Because of the crystal alignment in a large area, fabrication of device arrays become possible. More importantly, this simple method is applicable to a wide range of organic semiconductors and potentially to inorganic materials, with six examples including both p- and n-channel materials demonstrated in this work.

Nanogenerator harvests power from rolling tires

Jun 29, 2015

  • A group of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers and a collaborator from China have developed a nanogenerator that harvests energy from a car’s rolling tire friction. An innovative method of reusing energy, the nanogenerator ultimately could provide automobile manufacturers a new way to squeeze greater efficiency out of their vehicles. The researchers reported their development, which is the first of its kind, in a paper published May 6, 2015, in the journal Nano Energy (“Single-electrode triboelectric nanogenerator for scavenging friction energy from rolling tires”).

A magnetic-assisted, self-healing supercapacitor

Jun 19, 2015

  • Researchers in China have developed a potential solution to this problem by designing an electrically and mechanically self-healable yarn-based supercapacitor. The team of Dr. Yan Huang and Mr. Yang Huang et al, led by Chunyi Zhi, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics & Materials Science at the City University of Hong Kong, reported their findings in the June 1, 2015 online edition of ACS Nano (“Magnetic-Assisted, Self-Healable, Yarn-Based Supercapacitor”).
  • “Self-healing of a device is different from material self-healing because the devices contain electronic circuits,” Zhi explains to Nanowerk. “Therefore, self-healing of a device includes materials self-healing plus alignment of electrodes, which is very difficult but essential.”

New ‘smart’ nanoparticle platform for cancer thermotherapy

Jun 26, 2015

  • Scientists at the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, have now proposed a novel approach to apply micro- and nanomaterials as microwave susceptible agents in tumor hyperthermia in vivo for the first time.
  • “Our research shows that this approach inhibits tumor growth and markedly prolongs survival in animal models,” Dr. Xianwei Meng, who led the research team, tells Nanowerk.

Belarus’ Academy of Sciences to advance nanotech cooperation with China’s Heilongjiang Province


  • The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (NASB) plans to develop cooperation in the area of nanotechnologies with the Chinese province Heilongjiang. The statement was made by Chairman of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus Vladimir Gusakov before a meeting with the delegation of the Heilongjiang Province Academy of Sciences led by its President Guo Chunjing on 15 June, BelTA has learned.
  • “We expect a productive dialogue and good results. We have great prospects for cooperation with China. It is a powerful state, the world’s second largest economy, its science is developing very rapidly. We should be able to start a number of joint projects. Today we are going to talk about cooperation in the area of nanotechnologies and nanomaterials. Chinese colleagues are very interested in it. Besides, projects in the area of new materials chemistry, microbiology, laser and space research are possible,” stressed the Chairman of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.

Add Nanotubes For Super Strong Silk Adding carbon nanotubes to silk proteins can create silk fibers that are almost as strong as natural spider dragline silk

June 5, 2015

  • AsianScientist (Jun. 5, 2015) – Researchers have successfully prepared tough protein-carbon nanotube hybrid fibers which are comparable to natural spider silks.
  • Using the infrared beamline of the National Center for Protein Science Shanghai (NCPSS) located in the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility, the researchers were also able to obtain the β-sheet content of silk fibroin from a high-quality Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrum.

Toward ‘green’ paper-thin, flexible electronics

May 20, 2015

  • Technology experts have long predicted the coming age of flexible electronics, and researchers have been working on multiple fronts to reach that goal. But many of the advances rely on petroleum-based plastics and toxic materials. Yu-Zhong Wang, Fei Song and colleagues wanted to seek a “greener” way forward.
  • The researchers developed a thin, clear nanocellulose paper made out of wood flour and infused it with biocompatible quantum dots — tiny, semiconducting crystals — made out of zinc and selenium. The paper glowed at room temperature and could be rolled and unrolled without cracking.

United States, China team explore energy harvesting

Apr 18, 2015

  • Six authors have described their work in harvesting energy in a paper titled “Ultrathin, Rollable, Paper-Based Triboelectric Nanogenerator for Acoustic Energy Harvesting and Self-Powered Sound Recording.” Translation: A paper microphone may help charge your cellphone. Jacob Aron in New Scientist wrote about their work; he said one benefit of such a microphone is that it could harvest acoustic energy to top up a phone charge on the go. The team, from the Georgia Institute of Technology in the U.S. and Chongqing University and Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, published their paper in ACS Nano last month.
  • The scientists developed a rollable, paper-based triboelectric nanogenerator with 125 μm thickness. It can deliver maximum power density of 121 mW/m2 and 968 W/m3 under a sound pressure of 117 dBSPL. (The amount of power the microphone provides depends on its size, but it’s around 121 milliwatts per square meter.)

Researchers develop flame and water resistant cotton coating that is also self-cleaning

Apr 10, 2015

  • (—A small group of researchers with China’s Jilin University has developed a triple-layer coating that protects cotton from water and fire and is easily cleaned. In their paper published in ACS Nano, Shanshan Chen , Xiang Li , Yang Li and Junqi Sun describe how in searching for a way to make fire retardants last longer on materials, they hit upon an idea that also made such materials water resistant.

Nanoscale worms provide new route to nano-necklace structures

March 29th, 2015

  • Researchers have developed a novel technique for crafting nanometer-scale necklaces based on tiny star-like structures threaded onto a polymeric backbone. The technique could provide a new way to produce hybrid organic-inorganic shish kebab structures from semiconducting, magnetic, ferroelectric and other materials that may afford useful nanoscale properties.
  • “Our goal was to develop an unconventional, yet robust, strategy for making a large variety of organic-inorganic hybrid shish kebabs,” said Zhiqun Lin, a professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “This is a general technique for making these unusual structures. Now that we have demonstrated it, we believe there is a nearly endless list of materials we can use to craft these nano-necklaces.”

Single-layer graphene electrodes

Mar 13, 2015

  • Light accounts for up to 19% of the total global energy consumption. Solid-state light sources such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can help to reduce this energy consumption whilst providing high-quality lighting. By employing single-layer graphene as an electrode, researchers in China and the US have succeeded in making quantum-dot LEDs (QD-LEDs). Reporting in Nanotechnology, they fabricate QD-LEDs that show better current efficiency and power efficiency than similar ITO-based devices working at a low current density. The result indicates that graphene can be used for anodes to replace indium tin oxide (ITO) in QD-LEDs.

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena

January 30th, 2015

  • A new study by a team of physicists at Rice University, Zhejiang University, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Florida State University and the Max Planck Institute adds to the growing body of evidence supporting a theory that strange electronic behaviors — including high-temperature superconductivity and heavy fermion physics — arise from quantum fluctuations of strongly correlated electrons.

UCLA scientists use NanoVelcro and temperature control to extract tumor cells from blood

January 12th, 2015

  • Circulating tumor cells are cancer cells that break away from tumors and travel in the blood, looking for places in the body to start growing new tumors called metastases. Capturing these rare cells would allow doctors to detect and analyze the cancer so they could tailor treatment for individual patients. In his laboratory at the UCLA California NanoSystems Institute, Hsian-Rong Tseng, a professor of molecular and medical pharmacology, used a device he invented to capture circulating tumor cells from blood samples.

Iran Stands 7th in World’s Nano-Tech Papers

January 5th, 2015

  • China, the US and India have produced most of the nanotechnology papers in 2014. China produced one thirds of the papers. It is followed by the US with 17.3 percent of articles and India with 7.3 percent.

Graphene/nanotube hybrid benefits flexible solar cells: Rice University labs create novel electrode for dye-sensitized cells

November 17th, 2014

  • The Rice lab of materials scientist Jun Lou created the new cathode, one of the two electrodes in batteries, from nanotubes that are seamlessly bonded to graphene and replaces the expensive and brittle platinum-based materials often used in earlier versions.

Genetics-based nanotech to keep mosquitoes at bay

Nov 13, 2014

  • Kansas State University researchers have developed a patented method of keeping mosquitoes and other insect pests at bay.
  • Kun Yan Zhu, professor of entomology; Xin Zhang, research associate in the Division of Biology; and Jianzhen Zhang, visiting scientist from Shanxi University in China, developed the technology: nanoparticles comprised of a nontoxic, biodegradable polymer matrix and insect-derived double-stranded ribonucleic acid (dsRNA), which is a synthesized molecule that can trigger a biological process known as RNA interference (RNAi), to destroy the genetic code of an insect in a specific DNA sequence.

Solid nanoparticles can deform like a liquid

October 12, 2014

  • A surprising phenomenon has been found in metal nanoparticles: They appear, from the outside, to be liquid droplets, wobbling and readily changing shape, while their interiors retain a perfectly stable crystal configuration. The research team behind the finding, led by MIT professor Ju Li, says the work could have important implications for the design of components in nanotechnology, such as metal contacts for molecular electronic circuits.

Nanotechnology start-up develops a first-of-its-kind multifunction water filtration membrane

Sep 11, 2014

  • (Nanowerk News) A young startup at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has developed a first-of-its-kind multifunction water filtration membrane. With its expected cost savings and superior performance, the new invention has the potential to render current membranes in the water industry obsolete.
  • Invented by Associate Professor Darren Sun, from NTU’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the startup is cofounded by Adjunct Professor Wong Ann Chai from NTU’s Nanyang Business School, formerly an investment banker from DBS Bank and Normura Singapore.

Breakthrough in ALD-graphene by Picosun Technology

Sep 30, 2014

  • (Nanowerk News) Picosun Oy, a leading manufacturer of high quality Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) equipment for global industries, reports the successful low temperature deposition of graphene, enabled by its PICOPLASMA™ remote plasma source system. Only 400 oC deposition temperature, now demonstrated by an elite research group led by Prof. Wei Ren and Prof. Zuo-Guang Ye at Xi’an Jiaotong University, China, does not only widen the variety of graphene’s applications but the employment of ALD, already a well-known and widely used method in the semiconductor industry markedly facilitates the material’s penetration into modern micro- and nanoelectronics manufacturing.

Whispering-gallery Raman laser sensors detect individual nanoparticles


  • A team of researchers at Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO), led by Lan Yang, the Das Family Career Development Associate Professor in Electrical & Systems Engineering, and collaborators at Tsinghua University (Beijing, China) have developed a new sensor that can detect and count nanoparticles, at sizes as small as 10 nm, one at a time.1 The researchers say the sensor could potentially detect much smaller particles, viruses, and small molecules.
  • The device is an array of self-referenced and self-heterodyned whispering-gallery Raman microlasers created in an undoped silicon dioxide chip. A pump laser generates a single Raman lasing mode inside the silica resonators. Upon landing of a nanoparticle on the resonator, Raman laser light circulating inside the resonator undergoes mode splitting, leading to two new lasing modes in different colors. Monitoring the changes in the color difference (frequency difference) enables detecting and measuring of nanoparticles with single-particle resolution.

China’s breakthrough in nano bleed-stop technology

Sep 3, 2014

  • China’s Qiingdao University has made a major breakthrough in electrospun medical glue hemostasis technology. Professor Long Yunze from the Qiingdao University School of physical science has carried out the work, joined by the General Hospital of the People’s Liberation Army (PLAGH), and China National Center for Nanoscience and Technology.
  • Professor Long Yunze has also made progress in the electrospun zinc oxide nano fibre and optoelectronic devices. The research group has applied electrospinning technique in the preparation of cerium doped zinc oxide nano fibres, and for the first time observed the P type semiconductor in the samples. The relevant research results have been published in the USA Applied Physics Letters.

Crumpled graphene boosts performance of high-energy lithium storage materials

Aug 06, 2014

  • (Nanowerk Spotlight) Over the past 20 years, lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries have been widely used as portable power sources in many consumer gadgets, medical devices and space and military technologies. However, limited by their intrinsic intercalation/de-intercalation mechanism, the energy density of today’s Li-ion batteries cannot fully satisfy the increased power demand required for electric vehicle batteries.
  • As a result of their studies, Mai and his group have now published new findings in the August 1, 2014 online edition of Nature Communications (“Self-adaptive strain-relaxation optimization for high-energy lithium storage material through crumpling of graphene”), in which they reported a three-dimensional crumpled graphene-encapsulated nickel sulfide electrode as a superior high-energy lithium storage material.

China invents breathing-powered pacemaker generator


  • BEIJING, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) — Chinese scientists have developed a nanogenerator that can power a cardiac pacemaker with electricity generated by a patient’s breathing. The nanogenerator system developed by the Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems includes an implantable nanogenerator and an energy conversion and storage device, according to an announcement Monday on the Chinese Academy of Sciences website. The nanogenerator is 12 millimeters long, 12 millimeters wide and 0.7 millimeter thick.

Foxconn Wins Top China Universities With New Remote Research Hub

Jul 11, 2014

  • Foxconn Technology Group (2038)’s bid to build a research-and-manufacturing hub in the remote hills of China’s southern Guizhou province has won backing from two of the nation’s top universities. Under agreements with Tsinghua University and Peking University, the new facility will develop nanotechnology for use at Foxconn plants and the commercial application of vast quantities of data held by powerful computers, Chairman Terry Gou said yesterday. The site will work closely with a new factory in Guiyang that boosts energy efficiency and will use less chemicals.

Nanotwinned diamond with unprecedented hardness and stability

12 June 2014

  • Quan Huang, Dongli Yu, Bo Xu, Wentao Hu, Yanming Ma, Yanbin Wang, Zhisheng Zhao, Bin Wen, Julong He, Zhongyuan Liu & Yongjun Tian
  • Although diamond is the hardest material for cutting tools, poor thermal stability has limited its applications, especially at high temperatures. Simultaneous improvement of the hardness and thermal stability of diamond has long been desirable. According to the Hall−Petch effect1, 2, the hardness of diamond can be enhanced by nanostructuring (by means of nanograined and nanotwinned microstructures), as shown in previous studies3, 4, 5, 6, 7. However, for well-sintered nanograined diamonds, the grain sizes are technically limited to 10−30 nm (ref. 3), with degraded thermal stability4 compared with that of natural diamond. Recent success in synthesizing nanotwinned cubic boron nitride (nt-cBN) with a twin thickness down to ~3.8 nm makes it feasible to simultaneously achieve smaller nanosize, ultrahardness and superior thermal stability5. At present, nanotwinned diamond (nt-diamond) has not been fabricated successfully through direct conversions of various carbon precursors3, 6, 7 (such as graphite, amorphous carbon, glassy carbon and C60). Here we report the direct synthesis of nt-diamond with an average twin thickness of ~5 nm, using a precursor of onion carbon nanoparticles at high pressure and high temperature, and the observation of a new monoclinic crystalline form of diamond coexisting with nt-diamond. The pure synthetic bulk nt-diamond material shows unprecedented hardness and thermal stability, with Vickers hardness up to ~200 GPa and an in-air oxidization temperature more than 200 °C higher than that of natural diamond. The creation of nanotwinned microstructures offers a general pathway for manufacturing new advanced carbon-based materials with exceptional thermal stability and mechanical properties.

Tiny new synthetic diamonds increase strength of girl’s best friend

Jun 11, 2014

  • Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but they’re also prized by oil drillers, road crews and experimental physicists for their unparalleled ability to bore, grind and cut. Now scientists have synthesized microscopic diamonds that are harder, tougher and more stable than any made in nature or in a lab. These new nanodiamonds boast a special pattern in their crystal structure called nanotwinning, in which adjacent crystals share an interlacing boundary and grow into mirror images of one another. That twinning gives the diamonds their extraordinary hardness, the researchers say in a study published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Nature.
  • Until now. Scientists at Yanshan University in China say that diamonds made with their new method surpass existing diamonds in every category.

An integrated solar-powered energy conversion-storage-utilization system

Jun 06, 2014

  • (Nanowerk Spotlight) Almost all strategies for solar energy harvest and solar energy storage that exist today are developed as independent technologies. For instance, a solar cell generates electricity from the absorption and conversion of sunlight, while the storage of the produced electricity has to be implemented with another set of energy utilization solutions such as batteries/supercapacitors and fuel cells.
  • In this work, though, due to the relatively low conduction band minimum of TiO2, an external electrical field is necessary to drive the electron flow for the water reduction, which does not yet meet the goal of direct energy conversion and storage. “Second” continues Zheng, “the recent substantial development of artificial photosynthesis approaches suggests that using two semiconductor light absorbers, with band diagrams configured as the ‘Z-scheme’, provides an effective approach to cover a larger part of solar spectrum for enhanced photoabsorption, as well as allows for efficient reduction and oxidation at each photoelectrode (see for instance: Light-Induced Charge Transport within a Single Asymmetric Nanowire and “A Fully Integrated Nanosystem of Semiconductor Nanowires for Direct Solar Water Splitting”).

Nanoshell-emitters hybrid nanoobject proposed as promising 2-photon fluorescence probe

May 22, 2014

  • (Nanowerk News) Two-photon excitation fluorescence is growing in popularity in the bioimaging field but is limited by fluorophores’ extremely low two-photon absorption cross-section. The researcher Dr. Guowei Lu and co-workers from State Key Laboratory for Mesoscopic Physics, Department of Physics, Peking University, are endeavoring to develop efficient fluorescent probes with improved two-photon fluorescence (TPF) performance. They theoretically present a promising bright probe using gold nanoshell to improve the TPF performances of fluorescent emitters. Their work was published in SCIENCE CHINA Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy (“Plasmonic-enhanced two-photon fluorescence with single gold nanoshell”).
  • The Peking University researchers employed the finite-difference time-domain method to systematically evaluate the two-photo fluorescence behavior of single emitter single nanoshell configuration. Simultaneous excitation and emission enhancements could be achieved by the suitable dimensions of the nanoshell. They found that the emitter located inside or outside the nanoshell at various positions led to significantly different enhancement effect. (as shown in the Figure).

New High-Efficiency Thermoelectric Material Discovered

May 8, 2014

  • University of Houston physicists have discovered a new thermoelectric material offering high performance at temperatures ranging from room temperature up to 300 °C, or about 573 °F. “This new material is better than the traditional material, Bismuth telluride, and can be used for waste heat conversion into electricity much more efficiently,” said Zhifeng Ren, M.D. Anderson Chair professor of physics at UH and the lead author of a paper describing the discovery, published online by Nano Energy (see footnote).
  • The work was done in collaboration with researchers from the UH Department of Chemistry and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Huaizhou Zhao and Jiehe Sui, a member of Ren’s lab whose home institute is the Harbin Institute of Technology in China, were primary contributors; Zhao is now a research scientist at the Institute of Physics with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Flexible supercapacitor raises bar for volumetric energy density

May 11, 2014

  • (Nanowerk News) Scientists have taken a large step toward making a fiber-like energy storage device that can be woven into clothing and power wearable medical monitors, communications equipment or other small electronics. The device is a supercapacitor—a cousin to the battery. This one packs an interconnected network of graphene and carbon nanotubes so tightly that it stores energy comparable to some thin-film lithium batteries—an area where batteries have traditionally held a large advantage.
  • Dai, a professor of macromolecular science and engineering at Case Western Reserve and a co-author of the paper, explained that most supercapacitors have high power density but low energy density, which means they can charge quickly and give a boost of power, but don’t last long. Conversely, batteries have high energy density and low power density, which means they can last a long time, but don’t deliver a large amount of energy quickly.

Sino-Germany ‘Science Tunnel’ exhibition opens in Beijing

May 13, 2014

  • An exhibition of China’s latest nano-tech achievements opened today in Beijing’s Science and Technology Museum. The exhibition, a sub-programme of “Science Tunnel 3.0”, is co-sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the Max Planck Society (MPS) of Germany and the China Association for Science and Technology, and will remain open until June 28.
  • Cooperation between the CAS and the MPS began with the MPS offering a few guest researcher posts for Chinese scientists in 1974. Four decades have witnessed the cooperation developed from Chinese researchers’ sporadic advanced studies in Germany to a comprehensive academic interchange involving 800 people a year. The MPS has 33 partner groups in China. For example, Chinese and German scientists joined in the research of severe acute respiratory syndrome virus (SARS) in 2003.

China Now Leads in Graphene and Carbon Nano-Tube Research

24 April 2014

  • Driven by favourable government policies, funding and academic research, China has become a global leader in graphene and carbon nano-tube (CNT) publication and patenting activity. Commercially, it has attained parity with international counterparts in CNT production, although its graphene suppliers lag global competition, according to Lux Research.
  • “The country’s 11th Five-Year Plan (FYP) from 2006 to 2010 tripled nanotech funding to ¥5 billion (RMB), setting the stage for ferocious activity in recent years,” said Zhun Ma, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, “Fishing for Carbon Gems in a Vast Sea of Oversupply: Assessing China’s Carbon Nanotube and Graphene Landscape,” which is part of the Lux Research China Innovation Intelligence service.

Wearable graphene strain sensors monitor human vital signs

Apr 30, 2014

  • (Nanowerk Spotlight) Monolayer graphene exhibits exceptional electronic and mechanical properties, making it, among other applications, a very promising material for nanoelectromechanical devices. Last year, for instance, researchers demonstrated that the piezoresistive effect in graphene in a nanoelectromechanical membrane configuration can provide direct electrical readout of pressure to strain transduction.
  • To demonstrate this application, researchers at Tsinghua University and Nanchang University in China have now reported on a method to monitor human motions. Their paper appeared in the April 14, 2014 online edition of Advanced Function Materials (“Wearable and Highly Sensitive Graphene Strain Sensors for Human Motion Monitoring”).

Team finds electricity can be generated by dragging saltwater over graphene

Apr 16, 2014

  • ( —A team of researchers at China’s Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, studying graphene properties, has discovered that the act of dragging saltwater over a piece of graphene can generate electricity. In their paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the team describes how in seeking to turn the idea of submerging carbon nanotubes in a flowing liquid to generate a voltage on its head, they came upon the idea of simply dragging water droplets across graphene instead.

China’s future in nanotechnology

February 17, 2014

  • China is positioning itself to become a world leader in nanotechnology and 2014 is shaping up to be a momentous year. The development of China’s nanotechnology industry combined with robotics which I discussed in an earlier article, are both key initiatives if China is to be successful in moving up the value chain in terms of global manufacturing. Nanotechnology involves the study and development related to the manipulation and control of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. This involves structures 100 nm or smaller in at least one dimension. “Nano” scale production equates to a billionth of a meter, just a fraction of the circumference of a single strand of human hair. A nanometer (nm) is one thousand millionth of a meter.

Nanosystem “forest” from Berkeley Lab achieves artificial photosynthesis


  • Berkeley, CA–Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have reported the first fully integrated nanosystem for artificial photosynthesis (…eneration.html). While “artificial leaf” is the popular term for such a system, the key to this success was an “artificial forest.” The breakthrough comes at a sobering time with news that atmospheric carbon dioxide is now at its highest level in at least three million years (400 ppm). This achievement is an important advance in the race to develop carbon-neutral renewable energy sources.
  • “Similar to the chloroplasts in green plants that carry out photosynthesis, our artificial photosynthetic system is composed of two semiconductor light absorbers, an interfacial layer for charge transport, and spatially separated co-catalysts,” says Peidong Yang, a chemist with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division, who led this research. “To facilitate solar water-splitting in our system, we synthesized tree-like nanowire heterostructures, consisting of silicon trunks and titanium oxide branches. Visually, arrays of these nanostructures very much resemble an artificial forest.”
  • The breakthrough comes at a sobering time with news that atmospheric carbon dioxide is now at its highest level in at least three million years (400 ppm). This achievement is an important advance in the race to develop carbon renewable energy sources.

Assessing the early impacts of nanotechnology in China

Dec 5th, 2012

  • (Nanowerk Spotlight) A recent review (“Engineering Small Worlds in a Big Society: Assessing the Early Impacts of Nanotechnology in China”) analyzes the early impacts of nanotechnology on China’s economic and innovation development in six key areas. It concludes that the country’s effort to join the world leaders in nanoscale R&D has made significant progress. Although several effects are difficult to capture, cross-country and cross-regional collaborations, institutional development, regional spread, industrial and enterprise development, as well as research and education capabilities, have been influenced positively by the new programs in China’s nanotechnology initiative.
  • Nanotechnology Publications by Five Top Producing Countries, 1990–2010 (Source: Arora et al. Capturing new developments in nanotechnology scientific output: A search strategy for publication records. STIP White Paper. Atlanta, GA: Georgia Institute of Technology).
  • Cross-Disciplinary Collaborations in Nanotechnology Publications in China, 1996–2011

China ‘soaring ahead’ in nanotechnology research

5 March 2012

  • China has emerged as a major nanotechnology player, but India is still working to catch up — and both countries have some ground to cover before they can hope to dominate the world of journals and citations, according to a paper in the February issue of Scientometrics.
  • The study, led by Sujit Bhattacharya at the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies in New Delhi (NISTADS), measured progress made by China and India in nanotechnology research using four indicators — publications, patents, standards, and the processes and products that have emerged as a result of research.
  • China’s share of published nanotechnology papers soared from less than 10 per cent of the global total in 2000, to nearly a quarter by 2009 — overtaking the United States. By contrast, India was occupying seventh place.