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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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


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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

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.

 

 

graphene-revolution-began-with-a-thought

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

 

New materials Powering the battery Revolution


More phones than people images

There are more mobile phones in the world than there are people. Nearly all of them are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which are the single most important component enabling the portable electronics revolution of the past few decades. 

None of those devices would be attractive to users if they didn’t have enough power to last at least several hours, without being particularly heavy.

Lithium-ion batteries are also useful in larger applications, like electric vehicles and smart-grid energy storage systems. And researchers’ innovations in materials science, seeking to improve lithium-ion batteries, are paving the way for even more batteries with even better performance. There is already demand forming for high-capacity batteries that won’t catch fire or explode. And many people have dreamed of smaller, lighter batteries that charge in minutes – or even seconds – yet store enough energy to power a device for days.

New Battery Materialsfile-20181001-195256-1e68x0s

Research is finding better ways to make batteries both big and small. 

Researchers like me, though, are thinking even more adventurously. Cars and grid-storage systems would be even better if they could be discharged and recharged tens of thousands of times over many years, or even decades. Maintenance crews and customers would love batteries that could monitor themselves and send alerts if they were damaged or no longer functioning at peak performance – or even were able to fix themselves. And it can’t be too much to dream of dual-purpose batteries integrated into the structure of an item, helping to shape the form of a smartphone, car or building while also powering its functions.

All that may become possible as my research and others’ help scientists and engineers become ever more adept at controlling and handling matter at the scale of individual atoms.

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3d Illustration of twist sodium ion battery technology

Emerging materials

For the most part, advances in energy storage will rely on the continuing development of materials science, pushing the limits of performance of existing battery materials and developing entirely new battery structures and compositions.

The battery industry is already working to reduce the cost of lithium-ion batteries, including by removing expensive cobalt from their positive electrodes, called cathodes. This would also reduce the human cost of these batteries, because many mines in Congo, the world’s leading source of cobalt, use children to do difficult manual labor.

Workers at a cobalt-copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kenny-Katombe Butunka/Reuters

Researchers are finding ways to replace the cobalt-containing materials with cathodes made mostly of nickel. Eventually they may be able to replace the nickel with manganese. Each of those metals is cheaper, more abundant and safer to work with than its predecessor. But they come with a trade-off, because they have chemical properties that shorten their batteries’ lifetimes.

Researchers are also looking at replacing the lithium ions that shuttle between the two electrodes with ions and electrolytes that may be cheaper and potentially safer, like those based on sodium, magnesium, zinc or aluminum.

graphene-supercapacitorMy research group looks at the possibilities of using two-dimensional materials, essentially extremely thin sheets of substances with useful electronic properties. Graphene is perhaps the best-known of these – a sheet of carbon just one atom thick. We want to see whether stacking up layers of various two-dimensional materials and then infiltrating the stack with water or other conductive liquids could be key components of batteries that recharge very quickly.

Looking inside the battery

It’s not just new materials expanding the world of battery innovation: New equipment and methods also let researchers see what’s happening inside batteries much more easily than was once possible.

In the past, researchers ran a battery through a particular charge-discharge process or number of cycles, and then removed the material from the battery and examined it after the fact. Only then could scholars learn what chemical changes had happened during the process and infer how the battery actually worked and what affected its performance.

X-rays generated by a synchotron can illuminate the inner workings of a battery. CLS Research Office/flickrCC BY-SA

But now, researchers can watch battery materials as they undergo the energy storage process, analyzing even their atomic structure and composition in real time. We can use sophisticated spectroscopy techniques, such as X-ray techniques available with a type of particle accelerator called a synchrotron – as well as electron microscopes and scanning probes – to watch ions move and physical structures change as energy is stored in and released from materials in a battery.

Those methods let researchers like me imagine new battery structures and materials, make them and see how well – or not – they work. That way, we’ll be able to keep the battery materials revolution going.

Re-Posted from  An Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, North Carolina State University

Graphene applications for bioelectronics and neuroprosthetics – Graphene BioElectronics


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The term bioelectronics, or bionics for short, describes a research field that is concerned with the integration of biological components with electronics; specifically, the application of biological materials and processes in electronics, and the use of electronic devices in living systems.
One day, bionics research could result in neural prostheses that augment or restore damaged or lost functions of the nervous system – restore vision, healing spinal cord injuries, and ameliorate neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.
Bioelectronics has benefited greatly from the miniaturization offered by nanotechnology materials such as carbon nanotubes graphene (see for instance our previous Nanowerk Spotlights Eavesdropping on cells with graphene transistors or Nanotechnology to repair the brain.
Graphene bioelectronics has become a ground-breaking field that offers exciting opportunities for developing new kinds of sensors capable of establishing outstanding interfaces with soft tissue (see for instance: Light-driven bioelectronic implants without batteries). Graphene-based transistors, as well as electrode arrays, have emerged as a special group of biosensors with their own peculiarities, advantages and drawbacks.
Design of graphene-based in vivo neuronal probes
Design of graphene-based in vivo neuronal probes. (a-d) the simple monolayer graphene based GMEAs based on parylene-C substrates (© Springer Nature). (e-f) the porous graphene based GMEAs built on polyimide substrates. Open access. (g-h) schematics of the parylene-C based GMEAs (Image: Open access). (i) shows the optical images of the same parylene-C based GMEA µECoG devices (© Springer Nature). (click on image to enlarge)
Reviewing the progress of the field from single device measurements to in vivo neuroprosthetic devices, researchers from the Institute of Bioelectronics at Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany, have published a review paper about graphene bioelectronics in 2D Materials (“Graphene & two-dimensional devices for bioelectronics and neuroprosthetics”).
The authors, Dmitry Kireev and Prof. Andreas Offenhaeusser, present a comprehensive overview of the use of graphene for bioelectronics applications; specifically they focus on interfacing graphene-based devices with electrogenic cells, such as cardiac and neuronal cells.
“Graphene possesses a number of important properties that may make it a game changer for future bioelectronics,” Kireev, the review’s first author, tells Nanowerk. “Above all and important for neuroscience, it was found to be biocompatible and completely stable in liquids and electrolytes. Excellent conductivity as well as transistor amplification properties allow graphene to be used for active parts of biosensors with extremely large sensitivities.”
In their review, the authors focus on a special kind of device that utilizes graphene as its active sensor material for extracellular signal detection. Starting with a short explanation of graphene-based devices, they then discuss in detail the reasons for the importance of graphene for future bioelectronics.
The paper provides a detailed description the working principle of two main graphene-based electronic devices that are currently used in bioelectronics applications: graphene field effect transistors (GFETs) and graphene multielectrode arrays (GMEAs). The authors discuss in detail the advantages and drawbacks of these devices.
The authors in-depth discussion includes past developments in order to provide a profound understanding of fundamental problems that have already been solved in order to guide future research.
Useful for researchers in the field, the paper provides a detailed time line of the development of GFETs and GMEAs, complete with key benchmarking properties.
The authors end their review with a structured perspective on future developments expected in the field.
“Basic research on graphene’s properties and proof-of-concept applications/devices is now concluding or at least declining,” notes Kireev. “We believe that research is now in the phase of optimizing these devices and searching for novel designs and approaches to utilize the given advantages of graphene and at the same time neutralize its drawbacks.”
The authors believe that the most intriguing outcome of the discovery of graphene has been the formation of a new research field: 2D materials science. Surprisingly, it appears that a myriad of standard bulk materials, such as silicon, germanium, and MoS2, whose properties have been known and studied for a long time, change their properties dramatically when thinned down to one or several monolayers. Some materials become semiconducting, some become fluorescent, and others become superconducting or create specific surface bonds. Other materials, such as 2D Ti3C2-MXenes, are suddenly sensitive to neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, creating an ultimately interesting device for neuroelectronics.
“The example of graphene and its usage for bioelectronics, which is exceptionally interesting, paves the way for further original research and exploration yet to come, possibly utilizing other 2D materials or graphene in standard forms (GFETs & GMEAs) or in the form of completely new devices,” Kireev concludes.

Re-Posted from Michael Berger/ Nanowerk

A Look at Graphene-Polymer Composite Medical Implants


This article is based around a talk given by Professor Alexander Seifalian from NanoRegMed Ltd, UK, at the NANOMED conference hosted by the NANOSMAT Society in Manchester on the 26-28th June 2018. In his talk, Alexander talks about how his company is developing a series of medical implants that are made from a biocompatible graphene-polymer composite.

Written and Contributed by: Liam Critchley

Link to Original AZ Nano Article

Regenerative medicine and tissue engineering have been around for a while now, but these fields continue to advance and are now utilizing many different types of nanomaterials. Alexander has created a wide range of prostheses, including a trachea, grafts for heart bypasses, tear ducts, ears, and noses using various materials; including graphene. There has been a need for many years to create grafts which have smaller diameters, are less prone to blockages and can be used in a human patient without it being rejected by the body.

Life Science / Shutterstock

Most of the biomaterials used in various prostheses have been around for many decades and still encounter problems. So, Alexander and his company have come up with a new range of materials involving graphene for these prosthesis applications.

There are not many areas of medical research where graphene is used, because graphene by itself can be toxic to humans if internalized. But this can be avoided by compositing graphene with other materials. Aside from its strength, graphene’s lightweight nature, antimicrobial properties, flexibility and corrosion resistance make it an ideal material for medical implants when it is formulated into biocompatible materials.

The materials developed by Alexander are a composite of polycaprolactone (PCL), and graphene and the materials can be tuned to be either biodegradable or non-biodegradable depending on the intended application. To make the material, they graft the graphene and then conjugate it to the polymers so that it sits within the polymer matrix, thus preventing it from being harmful to a patient. A critical aspect of why the materials work is because they integrate with the surrounding tissue and cells.

The fabricated materials are very strong, and it requires 80 kilos of force to break the composite. This high strength property can also be further improved, but it is at the expense of the viscoelasticity of the material, which is required for many implant applications. It is also possible to create polycarbonate-graphene composites using this method, but a higher concentration of graphene is required, and this again affects the viscoelastic properties of the composite. It is also possible to 3D print these composite materials into variously shaped scaffolds loaded with stem cells.

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Alexander has created many grafts with these materials, and they have been tested on mouse models. These grafts have been shown to grow cells, and the proliferated cells directly integrate with the tissue of interest to help with the growth of new tissue. This type of graft can also be loaded with nitrous oxide (sometimes alongside other kinds of particles or biological matter) and has excellent potential for wound healing applications.

Billion Photos / Shutterstock

Alexander has also created artificial arteries using these polymer-graphene composites. It was also possible to conjugated antibodies (made from peptides) inside the artery, which also becomes endothelialized under shear flow. The tunable nature of the composites has enabled Alexander to fabricate these pseudo-arteries with the same viscoelastic properties as natural arteries.

Because medical devices can take a while to become commercialized, all the products created from these composites are not at the commercial level just yet. However, they show a lot of promise and many have gone to clinical trials, with success. One of the key aspects that make this composite an exciting material is its tunability. The ratios can be altered such that it is flexible enough to be used as an artery, or it can be made more rigid for external prostheses, such as the nose. This, coupled with the fact that the materials are biocompatible, make it an interesting area to keep an eye on in the near future.

Sources:

• NANOMED 2018: http://www.nanomed.uk.com/

• NanoRegMed: http://www.nanoregmed.com/

A*STAR team uses graphene oxide to create a cathode for improved li-ion batteries


A*STAR researchers have found that incorporating organic materials into lithium ion batteries could lower their cost and make them more environmentally friendly. The team has developed an organic-based battery cathode that has significantly improved electrochemical performance compared to previous organic cathode materials. The new material is also robust, remaining stable over thousands of battery charge/discharge cycles.

An electron-deficient, rigid organic molecule called hexaazatrinaphthalene (HATN) was previously investigated as an organic cathode material for lithium ion batteries. However, its promising initial performance declined rapidly during use, because the molecule began to dissolve into the battery’s liquid electrolyte. A new cathode material, in which HATN was combined with graphene oxide in an attempt to prevent the organic material from dissolving, has now been developed by Yugen Zhang and his colleagues from the A*STAR Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

“Graphene oxide has excellent electronic conductivity, and surface oxygen functionality that may form hydrogen-bonding interactions with HATN,” Zhang says. He explains that this made graphene oxide a promising candidate for forming a HATN-graphene oxide nanocomposite.

The nanocomposite’s performance reportedly exceeded expectations. The materials combined to form core-shell nanorods in which the HATN was coated with graphene oxide. “Graphene oxide and HATN formed a very nice composite structure, which solved the dissolution issue of HATN in electrolyte and gave the cathode very good cycling stability,” Zhang says. A lithium ion battery using this material as its cathode retained 80% of its capacity after 2000 charge/discharge cycles.

The team saw even better performance when they combined graphene oxide with a HATN derivate called hexaazatrinaphthalene tricarboxylic acid (HATNTA). A battery made from this material retained 86% of its capacity after 2,000 charge/discharge cycles. The improved performance is probably due to the polar carboxylic acid groups on the HATNTA molecule, which attached the molecule even more strongly to the graphene oxide.

The team is continuing to develop new materials to improve the performance of organic cathodes, Zhang says. Aside from investigating alternatives to graphene oxide, the team also is working on HATN-based porous polymers for use as organic cathode materials, which should enhance the flow of ions during battery charge and discharge.

This graphene battery can recharge itself to provide unlimited clean energy


Scientists are exploring graphene’s ability to ‘ripple’ into the third dimension.

Image: REUTERS/Nick Carey

Graphene is a modern marvel. It is comprised of a single, two-dimensional layer of carbon, yet is 200 times stronger than steel and more conductive than any other material, according to the University of Manchester, where it was first isolated in 2004.

Graphene also has multiple potential uses, including in biomedical applications such as targeted drug delivery, and for improving the lifespan of smartphone batteries.

Now, a team of researchers at the University of Arkansas has found evidence to suggest graphene could also be used to provide an unlimited supply of clean energy.

The team says its research is based on graphene’s ability to “ripple” into the third dimension, similar to waves moving across the surface of the ocean. This motion, the researchers say, can be harvested into energy.

To study the movement of graphene, lead researcher Paul Thibado and his team laid sheets of the material across a copper grid that acted as a scaffold, which allowed the graphene to move freely.

Thibado says graphene could power biomedical devices such as pacemakers.

Image: Russell Cothren

The researchers used a scanning tunnelling microscope (STM) to observe the movements, finding that narrowing the focus to study individual ripples drew clearer results.

In analysing the data, Thibado observed both small, random fluctuations, known as Brownian motion, and larger, coordinated movements.

A scanning tunnelling microscope.

Image: University of Arkansas

As the atoms on a sheet of graphene vibrate in response to the ambient temperature, these movements invert their curvature, which creates energy, the researchers say.

Harvesting energy

“This is the key to using the motion of 2D materials as a source of harvestable energy,” Thibado says.

“Unlike atoms in a liquid, which move in random directions, atoms connected in a sheet of graphene move together. This means their energy can be collected using existing nanotechnology.”

The pieces of graphene in Thibado’s laboratory measure about 10 microns across (more than 20,000 could fit on the head of a pin). Each fluctuation exhibited by an individual ripple measures only 10 nanometres by 10 nanometres, and could produce 10 picowatts of power, the researchers say.

As a result, each micro-sized membrane has the potential to produce enough energy to power a wristwatch, and would never wear out or need charging.

Sheet of graphene as seen through Thibado’s STM

Image: University of Arkansas

Thibado has created a device, called the Vibration Energy Harvester, that he claims is capable of turning this harvested energy into electricity, as the below video illustrates.

This self-charging power source also has the potential to convert everyday objects into smart devices, as well as powering more sophisticated biomedical devices such as pacemakers, hearing aids and wearable sensors.

Thibado says: “Self-powering enables smart bio-implants, which would profoundly impact society.”

Have you read?

Graphene could soon make your computer 1000 times faster

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Why Do Most Science Startups Fail? Here’s Why …


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“We need to get a lot better at bridging that gap between discovery and commercialization”

G. Satell – Inc. Magazine

It seems like every day we see or hear about a breakthrough new discovery that will change everything. Some, like perovskites in solar cells and CRISPR are improvements on existing technologies. Others, like quantum computing and graphene promise to open up new horizons encompassing many applications. Still others promise breakthroughs in Exciting Battery Technology Breakthrough News — Is Any Of It Real? or Beyond lithium — the search for a better battery

Nevertheless, we are still waiting for a true market impact. Quantum computing and graphene have been around for decades and still haven’t hit on their “killer app.” Perovskite solar cells and CRISPR are newer, but haven’t really impacted their industries yet. And those are just the most prominent examples.

bright_idea_1_400x400The problem isn’t necessarily with the discoveries themselves, many of which are truly path-breaking, but that there’s a fundamental difference between discovering an important new phenomenon in the lab and creating value in the marketplace.

“We need to get a lot better at bridging that gap. To do so, we need to create a new innovation ecosystem for commercializing science.”

The Valley Of Death And The Human Problem

The gap between discovery and commercialization is so notorious and fraught with danger that it’s been unaffectionately called the “Valley of Death.” Part of the problem is that you can’t really commercialize a discovery, you can only commercialize a product and those are two very different things.

The truth is that innovation is never a single event, but a process of discovery, engineering and transformation. After something like graphene is discovered in the lab, it needs to be engineered into a useful product and then it has to gain adoption by winning customers in the marketplace. Those three things almost never happen in the same place.

So to bring an important discovery to market, you first need to identify a real world problem it can solve and connect to engineers who can transform it into a viable product or service. Then you need to find customers who are willing to drop whatever else they’ve been doing and adopt it on a large scale. That takes time, usually about 30 years.

The reason it takes so long is that there is a long list of problems to solve. To create a successful business based on a scientific discovery, you need to get scientists to collaborate effectively with engineers and a host of specialists in other areas, such as manufacturing, distribution and marketing. Those aren’t just technology problems, those are human problems. Being able to collaborate effectively is often the most important competitive advantage.

Wrong Industry, Wrong Application

One of the most effective programs for helping to bring discoveries out of the lab is I-Corps. First established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help recipients of SBIR grants identify business models for scientific discoveries, it has been such an extraordinary success that the US Congress has mandated its expansion across the federal government.

Based on Steve Blank’s lean startup methodology, the program aims to transform scientists into entrepreneurs. It begins with a presentation session, in which each team explains the nature of their discovery and its commercial potential. It’s exciting stuff, pathbreaking science with real potential to truly change the world.

The thing is, they invariably get it wrong. Despite their years of work to discover something of significance and their further efforts to apply and receive commercialization grants from the federal government, they fail to come up with a viable application in an industry that wants what they have to offer. professor-with-a-bright-idea-vector-937691

Ironically, much of the success of the I-Corps program is due to these early sessions. Once they realize that they are on the wrong track, they embark on a crash course of customer discovery, interviewing dozens — and sometimes hundreds — of customers in search of a business model that actually has a chance of succeeding.

What’s startling about the program is that, without it, scientists with important discoveries often wasted years trying to make a business work that never really had a chance in the first place.

The Silicon Valley Myth

Much of the success of Silicon Valley has been based on venture-funded entrepreneurship. Startups with an idea to change the world create an early stage version of the product they want to launch, show it to investors and get funding to bring it to market. Just about every significant tech company was started this way.

Yet most of the success of Silicon Valley has been based on companies that sell either software or consumer gadgets, which are relatively cheap and easy to rapidly prototype. Many scientific startups, however, do not fit into this category. Often, they need millions of dollars to build a prototype and then have to sell to industrial companies with long lead times.

start up imagesThe myth of Silicon Valley is that venture-funded entrepreneurship is a generalizable model that can be applied to every type of business. It is not. In fact, it is a specific model that was conceived in a specific place at a specific time to fund mature technologies for specific markets. It’s not a solution that fits every problem.

The truth is that venture funds are very adept with assessing market risk, but not so good at taking on technology risk, especially in hard sciences. That simply isn’t what they were set up to do.

We Need A New Innovation Ecosystem For Science Entrepreneurship

In 1945, Vannevar Bush delivered a report, Science, The Endless Frontier, to President Truman, in which he made the persuasive argument that expanding the nation’s scientific capacity will expand its economic capacity and well being. His call led, ultimately, to building America’s scientific infrastructure, including programs like the NSF and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

It was Bush’s vision that made America a technological superpower. Grants from federal agencies to scientists enabled them to discover new knowledge. Then established businesses and, later, venture backed entrepreneurs would then take those discoveries to bring new products and services to market.

Look at any industry today and its most important technologies were largely shaped by investment from the federal government. Today, however, the challenges are evolving. We’re entering a new era of innovation in which technologies like genomics, nanotechnology and robotics are going to reshape traditional industries like energy, healthcare and manufacturing.

That’s exciting, but also poses new challenges, because these technologies are ill-suited to the Silicon Valley model of venture-funded entrepreneurship and need help to them get past the Valley of Death. So we need to build a new innovation ecosystem on top of the scientific architecture Bush created for the post-war world.

There have been encouraging signs. New programs like I-Corps, the Manufacturing InstitutesCyclotron Road and Chain Reaction are beginning to help fill the gap.

Still much more needs to be done, especially at the state and local level to help build regional hubs for specific industries, if we are going to be nearly as successful in the 21st century as were were in the 20th.

Cape-Starman

A real “boost” in the design and development of graphene-based light detection technology – the photoexcited graphene puzzle solved


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Schematic representation of the ultrafast optical pump – terahertz probe experiment, where the optical pump induces electron heating and the terahertz pulse is sensitive to the conductivity of graphene directly after this heating process, …more

 

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as the cameras in phones. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for light detectors offers significant improvements with respect to materials being used nowadays. For example, graphene can detect light of almost any colour, and it gives an extremely fast electronic response within one millionth of a millionth of a second. Thus, in order to properly design graphene-based light detectors, it is crucial to understand the processes that take place inside the graphene after it absorbs light.

A team of European scientists has now succeeded in understanding these processes. Published recently in Science Advances, their work gives a thorough explanation of why, in some cases,  conductivity increases after  absorption, and in other cases, it decreases. The researchers show that this behaviour correlates with the way in which energy from absorbed light flows to the graphene electrons: After light is absorbed by the graphene, the processes through which graphene electrons  up happen extremely fast and with a very high efficiency.

For highly doped graphene (where many free electrons are present), ultrafast electron heating leads to carriers with elevated energy—hot carriers—which, in turn, leads to a decrease in conductivity. Interestingly enough, for weakly doped graphene (where not so many free electrons are present), electron heating leads to the creation of additional , and therefore an increase in conductivity. These additional carriers are the direct result of the gapless nature of graphene—in gapped , electron heating does not lead to additional free carriers.

This simple scenario of light-induced electron heating in graphene can explain many observed effects. Aside from describing the conductive properties of the material after light absorption, it can explain carrier multiplication, where—under specific conditions—one absorbed light particle (photon) can indirectly generate more than one additional free electron, and thus create an efficient photoresponse within a device.

The results of the paper, in particular, understanding electron heating processes accurately, will definitely mean a great boost in the design and development of graphene-based light detection technology.

 Explore further: Atomically thin building blocks could make optoelectrical devices more efficient

More information: “The ultrafast dynamics and conductivity of photoexcited graphene at different Fermi energies” Science Advances (2018). advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/5/eaar5313

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-05-photoexcited-graphene-puzzle.html#jCp