The $80 Trillion World Economy in One Chart: The World Bank View


The latest estimate from the World Bank puts global GDP at roughly $80 trillion in nominal terms for 2017.

Today’s chart from HowMuch.net uses this data to show all major economies in a visualization called a Voronoi diagram – let’s dive into the stats to learn more.

THE WORLD’S TOP 10 ECONOMIES

Here are the world’s top 10 economies, which together combine for a whopping two-thirds of global GDP.

Rank Country GDP % of Global GDP
#1 United States $19.4 trillion 24.4%
#2 China $12.2 trillion 15.4%
#3 Japan $4.87 trillion 6.1%
#4 Germany $3.68 trillion 4.6%
#5 United Kingdom $2.62 trillion 3.3%
#6 India $2.60 trillion 3.3%
#7 France $2.58 trillion 3.3%
#8 Brazil $2.06 trillion 2.6%
#9 Italy $1.93 trillion 2.4%
#10 Canada $1.65 trillion 2.1%

In nominal terms, the U.S. still has the largest GDP at $19.4 trillion, making up 24.4% of the world economy.

While China’s economy is far behind in nominal terms at $12.2 trillion, you may recall that the Chinese economy has been the world’s largest when adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) since 2016. 

The next two largest economies are Japan ($4.9 trillion) and Germany ($4.6 trillion) – and when added to the U.S. and China, the top four economies combined account for over 50% of the world economy.

MOVERS AND SHAKERS

Over recent years, the list of top economies hasn’t changed much – and in a similar visualization we posted 18 months ago, the four aforementioned top economies all fell in the exact same order.

However, look outside of these incumbents, and you’ll see that the major forces shaping the future of the global economy are in full swing, especially when it comes to emerging markets.

Here are some of the most important movements:

India has now passed France in nominal terms with a $2.6 trillion economy, which is about 3.3% of the global total. In the most recent quarter, Indian GDP growth saw its highest growth rate in two years at about 8.2%.

Brazil, despite its very recent economic woes, surpassed Italy in GDP rankings to take the #8 spot overall. 

Turkey has surpassed The Netherlands to become the world’s 17th largest economy, and Saudi Arabia has jumped past Switzerland to claim the 19th spot.

And what about the Future?

Read About How China will lead the world by 2050 Photo: REUTERS/Stringer
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Main Players of Nanotechnology Based on Hot Research Topics – Who’s No. 1?


A group of researchers in the field of technology policy-making have recently introduced emergence indicators and hot research topics in the field of nanotechnology in various periods by using text mining method as well as bibliometric techniques, and they have also studied the main players in this area including researchers, universities, research centers, and countries.

According to this study, China, the United States, South Korea, India, and Iran have possessed the first to fifth rank in 2006-2015.

 

Understanding the situation and vision in the development of various technologies and how scientific advances turn into technological innovation are among the concerns for managers and policy-makers. It is also a need to determine scientific and technological priorities in countries. Technological emergence indicators can provide valuable information for the drawing of technology roadmap and future study of science and technology.

 

A group of researchers in the field of technology policy-making in Georgia Institute of Technology,USA, and Fudan University,China, have recently introduced emergence indicators and hot research topics in the field of nanotechnology in various periods by using text mining method as well as bibliometric techniques, and they have also studied the main players in this area including researchers, universities, research centers, and countries. This study has been defined as an Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA)  

Foresight and Understanding from Scientific Exposition (FUSE) in the field of emerging indicators development, and it has been fund by theUnited StatesNational Science Foundation.

Top 10 high emergence nanotechnology terms by time period

Top 10

Hot topics are expressions or concepts with very high citations in the recent years. These subjects change in time and new subjects emerge.

Accordingly, nanotechnology articles were firstly extracted from Web of Science Databank in the last three decades by using a search string provided by the same team.

The abstracts of the articles were put into text mining software, and emerging subjects were extracted in time intervals in order to calculate emergence score for each subject. In the end, the share of countries, research institutes, and researchers in the publication of articles in hot subjects are determined in each period.

The important point of this study is that players in the field of nanotechnology have been studied and ranked in each decade according to high emergence nanotechnology terms in that period.

Results of the study show that subjects related to characterization methods and some nanomaterials such as nanoparticles and nanowires were on the top of research subjects in 1991-2000, and they acquired the largest emergence score.

In 1998-2007, new nanomaterials were added to the list while in the third period (2006-2015), emerging materials such as graphene and various applications of nanomaterials were on the top of the subjects.

Ranking of countries according to emergent terms in the first decade shows that theUnited States,Japan,China,Germany, and France arethe top 5 countries both in the number of articles and in emergence score.

In the second decade,China possessed the first rank with its rapid growth in the development of nanotechnology.

In the third decade (2006-2015),China, the United States,South Korea,India, and Iran possessed the first to fifth rank in emergence score, respectively.

The interesting point is that China, the United States,Japan,Germany, and South Korea are the top5 countries in the number of nanotechnology publications whileIndiaandIranare in the 6th and 13th places, respectively.

This shows that countries such as India and specifically,Iran, have not only experienced significant growth in the number of nanotechnology articles, but also their publications have played an important role in emerging nanotechnology terms.

Top Countries

Top 5 countries according to focusing on emerging nanotechnology terms in various time intervals in 1991-2015

As is seen in the chart, the growth in this indicator has been less than three times in theUnited Statesin 15 years whileIranhas had a growth of more than 8000 % (80 times) at the same period. Results of the study show the full dominance of Chinese research institutes (73 among top 100 research institutes) in hot topics in the third decade.South Korea, theUnited States, andIranpossess the next ranks afterChinaby having 5, 3, and 3 research centers.

The important point in selecting the emergent terms through data mining method is the correct data cleaning. According to the article authors, minimal cleaning has been performed in this article.

The existence of some terms such as “g(-1)”, “great potential”, and similar terms like “atomic force microscopy” and “atomic force microscopy (AFM)” or “graphene oxide” and “graphene oxide (GO)” in the above table is the result of this point, which can be considered as a weak point in this research.

Results of the research have been published in a paper entitled “National Nanotechnology Research Prominence” inTechnology Analysis & Strategic Managementin June 2018.

 

Nanoplatform developed with three (3) molecular imaging modalities for tumor diagnosis – Making it possible to expand detection to more types of cancer


nanoplatform for tumor diagnosisThe composition and application of the JANUS nanoplatform for multimodal medical imaging. Credit: Marco Filice

Researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) have developed a hybrid nanoplatform that locates tumours using three different types of contrast simultaneously to facilitate multimodal molecular medical imaging: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and fluorescence optical imaging (OI).

The results of this study, led by the UCM Life Sciences Nanobiotechnology research team directed by Marco Filice and published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, represent a major advance in medical diagnosis since just one session using a single contrast medium yields more precise, specific results with higher resolution, sensitivity and capacity to penetrate tissues.

“No single molecular imaging modality provides a perfect diagnosis. Our nanoplatform is designed to enable multimodal molecular imaging, thus overcoming the intrinsic limitations of each single image modality while maximising their advantages,” noted Marco Filice, a researcher in the Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Complutense University of Madrid and the director of the study.

The platform, which has been tested on mice, targets solid cancers such as sarcomas. “However, due to its flexibility, the proposed nanoplatform can be modified, and with a suitable design of recognition element siting, it will be possible to expand detection to more types of cancer,” Filice said.

Named after the Roman god Janus, usually depicted as having two faces, these nanoparticles also “have two opposing faces, one of iron oxide embedded in a silica matrix that serves as a contrast medium for MRI and another of gold for CT,” explained Alfredo Sánchez, a researcher in the UCM Department of Analytical Chemistry and the first author of the study.

In addition, a molecular probe sited in a specific manner in the golden area permits fluorescence optical imaging while a peptide selective for hyperexpressed receptors in tumours (RGD sequence) and sited on the silica surface enveloping the  identifies the tumour and makes it possible to direct and transport the nanoplatform to its target.

Once the research team had synthesised the nanoparticles and determined their characteristics and toxicity, they then tested them in mouse models reared to present a fibrosarcoma in the right leg. The nanoparticle was injected in the tail. “Excellent imaging results were obtained for each modality tested,” reported Filice.

Although there is still much to do before these experiments can be applied to humans, this research shows that personalised treatment is closer than ever to becoming a reality, thanks to nanotechnology and biotechnology.

 Explore further: Nanoparticles on track to distinguish tumour tissue

More information: Alfredo Sánchez et al, Hybrid Decorated Core@Shell Janus Nanoparticles as a Flexible Platform for Targeted Multimodal Molecular Bioimaging of Cancer, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces (2018). DOI: 10.1021/acsami.8b10452

 

MIT: Research opens route to flexible electronics made from exotic materials – Provides a cost-effective alternative that could perform better than current silicon-based devices


MIT-Transpararent-Graphene_0

MIT researchers have devised a way to grow single crystal GaN thin film on a GaN substrate through two-dimensional materials. The GaN thin film is then exfoliated by a flexible substrate, showing the rainbow color that comes from thin film interference. This technology will pave the way to flexible electronics and the reuse of the wafers.

Photo credits: Wei Kong and Kuan Qiao

Cost-effective method produces semiconducting films from materials that outperform silicon.

“In smart cities, where we might want to put small computers everywhere, we would need low power, highly sensitive computing and sensing devices, made from better materials,” Kim says. “This [study] unlocks the pathway to those devices.”

 

The vast majority of computing devices today are made from silicon, the second most abundant element on Earth, after oxygen. Silicon can be found in various forms in rocks, clay, sand, and soil. And while it is not the best semiconducting material that exists on the planet, it is by far the most readily available. As such, silicon is the dominant material used in most electronic devices, including sensors, solar cells, and the integrated circuits within our computers and smartphones.

Now MIT engineers have developed a technique to fabricate ultrathin semiconducting films made from a host of exotic materials other than silicon. To demonstrate their technique, the researchers fabricated flexible films made from gallium arsenide, gallium nitride, and lithium fluoride — materials that exhibit better performance than silicon but until now have been prohibitively expensive to produce in functional devices.

The new technique, researchers say, provides a cost-effective method to fabricate flexible electronics made from any combination of semiconducting elements, that could perform better than current silicon-based devices.

“We’ve opened up a way to make flexible electronics with so many different material systems, other than silicon,” says Jeehwan Kim, the Class of 1947 Career Development Associate Professor in the departments of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering. Kim envisions the technique can be used to manufacture low-cost, high-performance devices such as flexible solar cells, and wearable computers and sensors.

Details of the new technique are reported today in Nature Materials. In addition to Kim, the paper’s MIT co-authors include Wei Kong, Huashan Li, Kuan Qiao, Yunjo Kim, Kyusang Lee, Doyoon Lee, Tom Osadchy, Richard Molnar, Yang Yu, Sang-hoon Bae, Yang Shao-Horn, and Jeffrey Grossman, along with researchers from Sun Yat-Sen University, the University of Virginia, the University of Texas at Dallas, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Ohio State University, and Georgia Tech.

mit_logoNow you see it, now you don’t

In 2017, Kim and his colleagues devised a method to produce “copies” of expensive semiconducting materials using graphene — an atomically thin sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal, chicken-wire pattern. They found that when they stacked graphene on top of a pure, expensive wafer of semiconducting material such as gallium arsenide, then flowed atoms of gallium and arsenide over the stack, the atoms appeared to interact in some way with the underlying atomic layer, as if the intermediate graphene were invisible or transparent. As a result, the atoms assembled into the precise, single-crystalline pattern of the underlying semiconducting wafer, forming an exact copy that could then easily be peeled away from the graphene layer.

The technique, which they call “remote epitaxy,” provided an affordable way to fabricate multiple films of gallium arsenide, using just one expensive underlying wafer.

Soon after they reported their first results, the team wondered whether their technique could be used to copy other semiconducting materials. They tried applying remote epitaxy to silicon, and also germanium — two inexpensive semiconductors — but found that when they flowed these atoms over graphene they failed to interact with their respective underlying layers. It was as if graphene, previously transparent, became suddenly opaque, preventing atoms of silicon and germanium from “seeing” the atoms on the other side.

As it happens, silicon and germanium are two elements that exist within the same group of the periodic table of elements. Specifically, the two elements belong in group four, a class of materials that are ionically neutral, meaning they have no polarity.

“This gave us a hint,” says Kim.

Perhaps, the team reasoned, atoms can only interact with each other through graphene if they have some ionic charge. For instance, in the case of gallium arsenide, gallium has a negative charge at the interface, compared with arsenic’s positive charge. This charge difference, or polarity, may have helped the atoms to interact through graphene as if it were transparent, and to copy the underlying atomic pattern.

“We found that the interaction through graphene is determined by the polarity of the atoms. For the strongest ionically bonded materials, they interact even through three layers of graphene,” Kim says. “It’s similar to the way two magnets can attract, even through a thin sheet of paper.”

Flexible Electronics MARKET_1_9

Opposites attract

The researchers tested their hypothesis by using remote epitaxy to copy semiconducting materials with various degrees of polarity, from neutral silicon and germanium, to slightly polarized gallium arsenide, and finally, highly polarized lithium fluoride — a better, more expensive semiconductor than silicon.

They found that the greater the degree of polarity, the stronger the atomic interaction, even, in some cases, through multiple sheets of graphene. Each film they were able to produce was flexible and merely tens to hundreds of nanometers thick.

The material through which the atoms interact also matters, the team found. In addition to graphene, they experimented with an intermediate layer of hexagonal boron nitride (hBN), a material that resembles graphene’s atomic pattern and has a similar Teflon-like quality, enabling overlying materials to easily peel off once they are copied.

However, hBN is made of oppositely charged boron and nitrogen atoms, which generate a polarity within the material itself. In their experiments, the researchers found that any atoms flowing over hBN, even if they were highly polarized themselves, were unable to interact with their underlying wafers completely, suggesting that the polarity of both the atoms of interest and the intermediate material determines whether the atoms will interact and form a copy of the original semiconducting wafer.

“Now we really understand there are rules of atomic interaction through graphene,” Kim says.

With this new understanding, he says, researchers can now simply look at the periodic table and pick two elements of opposite charge. Once they acquire or fabricate a main wafer made from the same elements, they can then apply the team’s remote epitaxy techniques to fabricate multiple, exact copies of the original wafer.

flexiblecircuitAlso Read About: Chinese Researchers Develop Non-Toxic, Flexible Material for Circuits

“People have mostly used silicon wafers because they’re cheap,” Kim says. “Now our method opens up a way to use higher-performing, nonsilicon materials. You can just purchase one expensive wafer and copy it over and over again, and keep reusing the wafer. And now the material library for this technique is totally expanded.”

Kim envisions that remote epitaxy can now be used to fabricate ultrathin, flexible films from a wide variety of previously exotic, semiconducting materials — as long as the materials are made from atoms with a degree of polarity. Such ultrathin films could potentially be stacked, one on top of the other, to produce tiny, flexible, multifunctional devices, such as wearable sensors, flexible solar cells, and even, in the distant future, “cellphones that attach to your skin.”

“In smart cities, where we might want to put small computers everywhere, we would need low power, highly sensitive computing and sensing devices, made from better materials,” Kim says. “This [study] unlocks the pathway to those devices.”

This research was supported in part by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Energy, the Air Force Research Laboratory, LG Electronics, Amore Pacific, LAM Research, and Analog Devices.

 

Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office

BIG Discoveries from Tiny Particles – from Photonics to Pharmaceuticals, materials made with Polymer Nanoparticles hold promise for products of the future – U of Delaware


Big discovery nanoparticles 181008101017_1_540x360
In this illustration, arrows indicate the vibrational activity of particles studied by UD researchers, while the graph shows the frequencies of this vibration.
Credit: Illustration courtesy of Hojin Kim
Summary:
Understanding the mechanical properties of nanoparticles are essential to realizing their promise in being used to create exciting new products. This new research has taken a significant step toward gaining the knowledge that can lead to better performance with products using polymer nanoparticles.

From photonics to pharmaceuticals, materials made with polymer nanoparticles hold promise for products of the future. However, there are still gaps in understanding the properties of these tiny plastic-like particles.

Now, Hojin Kim, a graduate student in chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Delaware, together with a team of collaborating scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Germany, Princeton University and the University of Trento, has uncovered new insights about polymer nanoparticles. The team’s findings, including properties such as surface mobility, glass transition temperature and elastic modulus, were published in Nature Communications.

Under the direction of MPI Prof. George Fytas, the team used Brillouin light spectroscopy, a technique that spelunks the molecular properties of microscopic nanoparticles by examining how they vibrate.

“We analyzed the vibration between each nanoparticle to understand how their mechanical properties change at different temperatures,” Kim said. “We asked, ‘What does a vibration at different temperatures indicate? What does it physically mean?’ ”

The characteristics of polymer nanoparticles differ from those of larger particles of the same material. “Their nanostructure and small size provide different mechanical properties,” Kim said. “It’s really important to understand the thermal behavior of nanoparticles in order to improve the performance of a material.”

Take polystyrene, a material commonly used in nanotechnology. Larger particles of this material are used in plastic bottles, cups and packaging materials.

“Polymer nanoparticles can be more flexible or weaker at the glass transition temperature at which they soften from a stiff texture to a soft one, and it decreases as particle size decreases,” Kim said. That’s partly because polymer mobility at small particle surface can be activated easily. It’s important to know when and why this transition occurs, since some products, such as filter membranes, need to stay strong when exposed to a variety of conditions.

For example, a disposable plastic cup made with the polymer polystyrene might hold up in boiling water — but that cup doesn’t have nanoparticles. The research team found that polystyrene nanoparticles start to experience the thermal transition at 343 Kelvin (158 degrees F), known as the softening temperature, below a glass transition temperature of 372 K (210 F) of the nanoparticles, just short of the temperature of boiling water. When heated to this point, the nanoparticles don’t vibrate — they stand completely still.

This hadn’t been seen before, and the team found evidence to suggest that this temperature may activate a highly mobile surface layer in the nanoparticle, Kim said. As particles heated up between their softening temperature and glass transition temperature, the particles interacted with each other more and more. Other research groups have previously suspected that glass transition temperature drops with decreases in particle size decreases because of differences in particle mobility, but they could not observe it directly.

“Using different method and instruments, we analyzed our data at different temperatures and actually verified there is something on the polymer nanoparticle surface that is more mobile compared to its core,” he said.

By studying interactions between the nanoparticles, the team also uncovered their elastic modulus, or stiffness.

Next up, Kim plans to use this information to build a nanoparticle film that can govern the propagation of sound waves.

Eric Furst, professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UD, is also a corresponding author on the paper.

“Hojin took the lead on this project and achieved results beyond what I could have predicted,” said Furst. “He exemplifies excellence in doctoral engineering research at Delaware, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of DelawareNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hojin Kim, Yu Cang, Eunsoo Kang, Bartlomiej Graczykowski, Maria Secchi, Maurizio Montagna, Rodney D. Priestley, Eric M. Furst, George Fytas. Direct observation of polymer surface mobility via nanoparticle vibrationsNature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04854-w

A battery for the next century – Could it happen here? Massachusetts Moves Forward to Secure Clean Energy Future and … JOBS


Tesla Red Car 0e0c44e592964b68aad7d2cefa03807b-0e0c44e592964b68aad7d2cefa03807b-0

Clean energy advocates are increasingly focusing their hopes on battery storage to supply power to the grid from the sun and the wind, particularly during times of peak demand when the weather might be, inconveniently, cloudy and still.

In fact, the clean energy bill passed this week on Beacon Hill called for increasing the energy storage target from 200 megawatts to 1,000 megawatts by the end of 2025, and ordered study of a mobile emergency relief battery system. “Batteries are key to extending the life of clean energy and we want to see that battery sector really grow,” state Senator Michael Barrett told the State House News Service on Monday night. “So this is a major job-creation piece.”

He’s got that right. Lithium-ion batteries have improved markedly in recent years and are being used in New England, California, and in Europe to store power from renewable energy sources. In Casco Bay, Maine, a battery room packed with more than 1,000 lithium-ion batteries helps stabilize the grid, according to NextEra, helping to keep electricity flowing at 60 hertz, or cycles per second, the longtime standard for US households. And ISO New England reports that there are a dozen projects in the pipeline that involve connecting a battery to either a new or existing solar or wind facility.

Because renewable energy sources are crucial for reducing the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, demand is only going to increase as stricter regulations kick in and as new products are developed — car companies project that 10 million to 20 million electric vehicles will be produced each year by 2025.

There’s a catch: Lithium-ion battery technology is approaching some very real limits imposed by the physical world, according to researchers. While battery performance has improved markedly and costs have fallen to around $150 per kilowatt hour, that’s still more than the $100 per kWh goal set by the US Department of Energy.

Costs are also soaring for rare metals used in battery electrodes. High demand has led to shocking abuses in Africa, where some cobalt mines exploit child labor, and to environmental violations in China, where mining dust has polluted villages, according to recent reporting in the science journal Nature. In any case, Mother Earth isn’t making any more cobalt or nickel: Demand will outstrip production within 20 years, researchers predict. Although crucial, current battery technology is neither clean nor renewable.

 

But soaring demand could also drive a market for new technology. As Eric Wilkinson, general counsel and director of energy policy for the Environmental League of Massachusetts, said: “It’s good for policy makers to be thinking about this, because it helps to energize the private sector.” Aging technology, dwindling natural resources, and harsh working conditions all make the lithium-ion battery industry ripe for disruption. Bill Gates’s $1 billion bet on energy, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, has invested in Form Energy, which is developing aqueous sulfur-based flow batteries that could last longer and cost less.

Battery storage may not grab as many headlines as advances in cancer research or genetics, but clean tech projects deserve a prime place on the Commonwealth’s R&D agenda. The right innovation ecosystem is already in place: science and engineering talent, academic institutions, and financial prowess that could unlock business opportunities and expand the state’s tax base. Strong public-private partnerships built MassBio. Maybe it’s time for MassBattery.

A new brain-inspired architecture could improve how computers handle data and advance AI


anewbraininsBrain-inspired computing using phase change memory. Credit: Nature Nanotechnology/IBM Research

IBM researchers are developing a new computer architecture, better equipped to handle increased data loads from artificial intelligence. Their designs draw on concepts from the human brain and significantly outperform conventional computers in comparative studies. They report on their recent findings in the Journal of Applied Physics.

Today’s computers are built on the von Neumann architecture, developed in the 1940s. Von Neumann computing systems feature a central processor that executes logic and arithmetic, a memory unit, storage, and input and output devices. Unlike the stovepipe components in conventional computers, the authors propose that brain-inspired computers could have coexisting processing and memory units.

Abu Sebastian, an author on the paper, explained that executing certain  in the computer’s memory would increase the system’s efficiency and save energy.

“If you look at human beings, we compute with 20 to 30 watts of power, whereas AI today is based on supercomputers which run on kilowatts or megawatts of power,” Sebastian said. “In the brain, synapses are both computing and storing information. In a new architecture, going beyond von Neumann, memory has to play a more active role in computing.”

The IBM team drew on three different levels of inspiration from the brain. The first level exploits a memory ‘s state dynamics to perform computational tasks in the memory itself, similar to how the brain’s memory and processing are co-located. The second level draws on the brain’s synaptic network structures as inspiration for arrays of phase change memory (PCM) devices to accelerate training for deep neural networks. Lastly, the dynamic and stochastic nature of neurons and synapses inspired the team to create a powerful computational substrate for spiking neural networks.

Phase change memory is a nanoscale memory device built from compounds of Ge, Te and Sb sandwiched between electrodes. These compounds exhibit different electrical properties depending on their atomic arrangement. For example, in a disordered phase, these materials exhibit high resistivity, whereas in a crystalline phase they show low resistivity.

By applying electrical pulses, the researchers modulated the ratio of material in the crystalline and the amorphous phases so the phase change memory devices could support a continuum of electrical resistance or conductance. This analog storage better resembles nonbinary, biological synapses and enables more information to be stored in a single nanoscale device.

Sebastian and his IBM colleagues have encountered surprising results in their comparative studies on the efficiency of these proposed systems. “We always expected these systems to be much better than conventional computing systems in some tasks, but we were surprised how much more efficient some of these approaches were.”

Last year, they ran an unsupervised machine learning algorithm on a conventional  and a prototype computational memory platform based on  change  devices. “We could achieve 200 times faster performance in the  computing systems as opposed to conventional computing systems.” Sebastian said. “We always knew they would be efficient, but we didn’t expect them to outperform by this much.” The team continues to build prototype chips and systems based on brain-inspired concepts.

 Explore further: Novel synaptic architecture for brain inspired computing

More information: Hiroto Kase et al, Biosensor response from target molecules with inhomogeneous charge localization, Journal of Applied Physics (2018). DOI: 10.1063/1.5036538

 

Dengue fever vaccine delivered with nanotechnology targets all four virus serotypes – University of North Carolina Research


denguefeverCredit: CC0 Public Domain

The latest in a series of studies led by the Aravinda de Silva Lab at the UNC School of Medicine shows continued promise in a dengue virus vaccine delivered using nanoparticle technology.

 

Each year, an estimated 25,000 people die from dengue infections and millions more are infected. Scientists have been trying to create a  for many years, but creating an effective  is challenging due to the four different serotypes of the virus. For a person to be fully protected against dengue, they need to be vaccinated against all four serotypes at once – something current vaccines do not achieve. In their paper published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Aravinda de Silva, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology, and UNC research associate Stefan Metz, Ph.D., detail how their nanoparticle delivery platform is producing a more balanced immune  versus other vaccine delivery platforms.

To deliver the vaccine, the de Silva lab is using a nanoparticle platform produced with PRINT (Particle Replication in Non-wetting Templates) technology, which was developed by Joseph DeSimone, Ph.D., the Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill, with an appointment in the department of pharmacology. Rather than using a killed or attenuated virus to develop a vaccine for , researchers are focusing on expressing the E protein and attaching it to  to induce good immune responses. In previous studies of monovalent vaccines, they have shown that the platform can induce protective immune response in individual serotypes. Their latest study of a tetravalent vaccine shows the response in all four serotypes at the same time.

“We are also seeing a more balanced immune response for each of the serotypes, which means the quality of neutralizing antibodies created is leading to a better overall protective reaction for the patient,” said Metz, the paper’s lead author.

The de Silva lab performed the experiments on their Dengue vaccine in close collaboration with co-author Shaomin Tian, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the department of microbiology and immunology. The proteins used in the experiments were produced by the UNC Protein Expression and Purification (PEP) core.

The de Silva lab’s next steps include optimizing the technique they use to attach the E protein to the nanoparticle. This work will be extremely important when trying to create a vaccine that induces consistently strong protective immune responses.

 Explore further: Nanoparticle vaccinates mice against dengue fever

More information: Stefan W. Metz et al. Nanoparticle delivery of a tetravalent E protein subunit vaccine induces balanced, type-specific neutralizing antibodies to each dengue virus serotype, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases (2018). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0006793

Rice University: NEWT (Nano Enabled Water Treatment) Reusable water-treatment particles effectively eliminate BPA


Rice U reusablewate water
Rice University researchers have enhanced micron-sized titanium dioxide particles to trap and destroy BPA, a water contaminant with health implications. Cyclodextrin molecules on the surface trap BPA, which is then degraded by reactive …more

Rice University scientists have developed something akin to the Venus’ flytrap of particles for water remediation.

The research is detailed in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.

BPA is commonly used to coat the insides of food cans, bottle tops and  supply lines, and was once a component of baby bottles. While BPA that seeps into food and drink is considered safe in low doses, prolonged exposure is suspected of affecting the health of children and contributing to high blood pressure.

The good news is that reactive oxygen species (ROS) – in this case, hydroxyl radicals – are bad news for BPA. Inexpensive titanium dioxide releases ROS when triggered by ultraviolet light. But because oxi-dating molecules fade quickly, BPA has to be close enough to attack.

That’s where the trap comes in.

Close up, the spheres reveal themselves as flower-like collections of titanium dioxide petals. The supple petals provide plenty of surface area for the Rice researchers to anchor cyclodextrin molecules.

Reusable water-treatment particles effectively eliminate BPA
“Petals” of a titanium dioxide sphere enhanced with cyclodextrin as seen under a scanning electron microscope. When triggered by ultraviolet light, the spheres created at Rice University are effective at removing bisphenol A contaminants from water. Credit: Alvarez Lab

Cyclodextrin is a benign sugar-based molecule often used in food and drugs. It has a two-faced structure, with a hydrophobic (water-avoiding) cavity and a hydrophilic (water-attracting) outer surface. BPA is also hydrophobic and naturally attracted to the cavity. Once trapped, ROS produced by the spheres degrades BPA into harmless chemicals.

In the lab, the researchers determined that 200 milligrams of the spheres per liter of contaminated water degraded 90 percent of BPA in an hour, a process that would take more than twice as long with unenhanced titanium dioxide.

0629_NEWT-log-lg-310x310The work fits into technologies developed by the Rice-based and National Science Foundation-supported Center for Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment because the spheres self-assemble from titanium dioxide nanosheets.

“Most of the processes reported in the literature involve nanoparticles,” said Rice graduate student and lead author Danning Zhang. “The size of the particles is less than 100 nanometers. Because of their very small size, they’re very difficult to recover from suspension in water.”

The Rice particles are much larger. Where a 100-nanometer particle is 1,000 times smaller than a human hair, the enhanced  is between 3 and 5 microns, only about 20 times smaller than the same hair. “That means we can use low-pressure microfiltration with a membrane to get these particles back for reuse,” Zhang said. “It saves a lot of energy.”
Reusable water-treatment particles effectively eliminate BPA
Rice graduate student Danning Zhang, who led the development of a particle that attracts and degrades contaminants in water, checks a sample in a Rice environmental lab. Credit: Jeff Fitlow

Because ROS also wears down cyclodextrin, the spheres begin to lose their trapping ability after about 400 hours of continued ultraviolet exposure, Zhang said. But once recovered, they can be easily recharged.

“This new material helps overcome two significant technological barriers for photocatalytic water treatment,” Alvarez said. “First, it enhances treatment efficiency by minimizing scavenging of ROS by non-target constituents in water. Here, the ROS are mainly used to destroy BPA.

“Second, it enables low-cost separation and reuse of the catalyst, contributing to lower treatment cost,” he said. “This is an example of how advanced materials can help convert academic hypes into feasible processes that enhance water security.”

 Explore further: Mat baits, hooks and destroys pollutants in water

More information: Danning Zhang et al. Easily-recoverable, micron-sized TiO2 hierarchical spheres decorated with cyclodextrin for enhanced photocatalytic degradation of organic micropollutants, Environmental Science & Technology (2018). DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b04301

 

Graphene Batteries – What will it Take to Get Advanced Battery Materials ‘Out of the Lab’ and into Consumer Markets?


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Graphene Batteries are widely considered a “graphene’s killer app”. Killer apps drive commercial success and are critical for moving emerging technologies out of the lab and into large scale industrial applications.  Savvy nanotech innovators and early adopters have adopted a collective mindset of “talk is cheap, now prove it works”.
Are batteries Graphene’s killer app? Our Graphene Battery User’s Guide will detail traditional battery designs, emerging battery technologies, provide actionable steps that you can take to develop a graphene battery of your own, and detail what needs to happen to get advanced graphene batteries into consumer markets.
 

We ♥ Graphene Batteries

Humans love batteries – yes it sounds strange but batteries power our phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, fitbits, autos, toys, pacemakers, and clocks. Even the biggest companies with large market shares know they must be constantly advancing their battery’s performance. Consumers want longer lasting batteries with faster charging times and we don’t want to wait.graphene-supercapacitor

As Samuel Gibbs astutely points out “The iPhone 7 is a missed opportunity. Apart from a bit of fluff retention the fit and finish, the cameras, fingerprint scanner, snappy performance and waterproofing are all great. But what does it matter how good it is when the battery is dead?” Ouch! While I’m fairly sure that Steve Jobs is still resting comfortably, Samuel is spot on in his assessment.

 

 

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The Graphene Revolution Began With A Single Idea

Did Apple engineers simply take a pass when it came to designing the battery and matching it to the device’s needs? I doubt it considering the risk to brand loyalty when selling devices between $650-$850 USD.  A much loved company like Apple spends unfathomable sums of money designing & testing new products prior to launching them. Apple is aware that when they launch a new iphone, thousands of people line up to buy them as soon as they are released, much like when we used to sleep outside on the sidewalk while waiting for the ticket window to open for our favorite rock concerts.

So what gives? Apple likely made a survey of commercially viable battery technologies and realized that a graphene battery wasn’t ready for prime time for this generation iphone.  Being an early adopter only works to your benefit if it doesn’t create product nightmares. Imagine millions of phones with defective batteries. The cost alone would be staggering and the cost to brand loyalty devastating. Apple sure doesn’t want a Samsung like battery recall on its hands.

Graphene Battery Technology

lithium-reduced-graphene-oxide-battery

 

A battery is a source of electrical energy, which is provided by one or more electrochemical cells of the battery after conversion of stored chemical energy. In today’s life, batteries play an important part as many personal, household and industrial devices use batteries as their power source. In its most basic form, a battery is a cell consisting of an anode, a cathode, with an electrolytic material in between.

There are 6 basic types of batteries.

  • Alkaline Batteries -Alkaline batteries are non-rechargeable, high energy density, batteries that have a long life span. This battery obtained its name because the electrolyte used in it is alkaline (potassium hydroxide). The chemical composition features zinc powder as an anode and manganese dioxide as the cathode with potassium hydroxide as the electrolyte.
  • Nickel Cadmium (NiCd)- mature and well understood but relatively low in energy density. The NiCd is used where long life, high discharge rate and economical price are important. Main applications are two-way radios, biomedical equipment, professional video cameras and power tools. The NiCd contains toxic metals and is environmentally unfriendly.
  • Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) – has a higher energy density compared to the NiCd at the expense of reduced cycle life. NiMH contains no toxic metals. Applications include mobile phones and laptop computers.
  • Lead Acid — most economical for larger power applications where weight is of little concern. The lead acid battery is the preferred choice for hospital equipment, wheelchairs, emergency lighting and UPS systems.
  • Lithium Ion (Li‑ion) —  fastest growing battery system. Li‑ion is used where high-energy density and lightweight is of prime importance. The technology is fragile and a protection circuit is required to assure safety. Applications include notebook computers and cellular phones.
  • Lithium Ion Polymer (Li‑ion polymer) — offers the attributes of the Li-ion in ultra-slim geometry and simplified packaging. Main applications are mobile phones.

Why won’t Li Ion Batteries just die?

Li Ion batteries already have market acceptance. Companies have invested heavily production lines. Li Ion battery’s improve performance a respectable 6-8% per year. Earlier this year, an MIT start up announced they’ve doubled the life of a Li Ion battery. Competing graphene alternatives, while promising are still likely years away from commercial acceptance.

What’s the holdup?

As we’ve recently had Samsung’s great example of an epic product battery fail, no one wants to responsible for that within their own organization, to let down their customers, and to have negative brand loyalty.  Successful nano engineering takes repeated trials to make small steps in the right direction.

It’s not as easy as “throw some graphene in it and sell it”. For an in depth review, check out our Graphene Battery User’s Guide to come up to date on research trends as well as to learn actionable steps that you can take to develop your own graphene battery with the four designs of experiments included in the guide.

References

http://www.brighthubengineering.com/power-generation-distribution/123909-types-of-batteries-and-their-applications/

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/23/iphone-7-review-poor-battery-life

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-18/samsung-crisis-began-in-rush-to-capitalize-on-uninspiring-iphone

http://news.mit.edu/2016/lithium-metal-batteries-double-power-consumer-electronics-0817