‘Quantum Internet’ – Moving toward ‘Unhackable’ Communications and how Single Particles of Light could make it Possible: Purdue University – Next Step ‘On-Chip Circuitry’


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Purdue researchers have created a new light source that generates at least 35 million photons per second, increasing the speed of quantum communication. Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology image/Mikhail Shalaginov

Hacker attacks on everything from social media accounts to government files could be largely prevented by the advent of quantum communication, which would use particles of light called “photons” to secure information rather than a crackable code.

The problem is that quantum communication is currently limited by how much   can help send securely, called a “secret bit rate.” Purdue University researchers created a new technique that would increase the secret bit rate 100-fold, to over 35 million photons per second.

“Increasing the bit rate allows us to use single photons for sending not just a sentence a second, but rather a relatively large piece of information with extreme security, like a megabyte-sized file,” said Simeon Bogdanov, a Purdue postdoctoral researcher in electrical and computer engineering.

Eventually, a high  will enable an ultra-secure “quantum internet,” a network of channels called “waveguides” that will transmit single photons between devices, chips, places or parties capable of processing quantum information.

“No matter how computationally advanced a hacker is, it would be basically impossible by the laws of physics to interfere with these quantum communication channels without being detected, since at the quantum level,  and matter are so sensitive to disturbances,” Bogdanov said.

The work was first published online in July for inclusion in a print Nano Letters issue on August 8, 2018.

Using light to send information is a game of probability: Transmitting one bit of information can take multiple attempts. The more photons a light source can generate per second, the faster the rate of successful information transmission.

Toward unhackable communication: Single particles of light could bring the 'quantum internet'
The Purdue University Quantum Center, including Simeon Bogdanov (left) and Sajid Choudhury (right), is investigating how to advance quantum communication for practical uses. Credit: Purdue University image/Susan Fleck

“A source might generate a lot of photons per second, but only a few of them may actually be used to transmit information, which strongly limits the speed of quantum communication,” Bogdanov said.

For faster  , Purdue researchers modified the way in which a light pulse from a laser beam excites electrons in a man-made “defect,” or local disturbance in a crystal lattice, and then how this defect emits one  at a time.

The researchers sped up these processes by creating a new light source that includes a tiny diamond only 10 nanometers big, sandwiched between a silver cube and silver film. Within the nanodiamond, they identified a single defect, resulting from one atom of carbon being replaced by nitrogen and a vacancy left by a missing adjacent carbon atom.

The nitrogen and the missing atom together formed a so-called “nitrogen-vacancy center” in a diamond with electrons orbiting around it.

A metallic antenna coupled to this defect facilitated the interaction of photons with the orbiting electrons of the nitrogen-vacancy center, through hybrid light-matter particles called “plasmons.” By the center absorbing and emitting one plasmon at a time, and the nanoantenna converting the plasmons into photons, the rate of generating photons for  became dramatically faster.

“We have demonstrated the brightest single-photon source at room temperature. Usually sources with comparable brightness only operate at very low temperatures, which is impractical for implementing on computer chips that we would use at room temperature,” said Vlad Shalaev, the Bob and Anne Burnett Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Next, the researchers will be adapting this system for on-chip circuitry. This would mean connecting the plasmonic antenna with waveguides so that photons could be routed to different parts of the chip rather than radiating in all directions.

 Explore further: Physicists demonstrate new method to make single photons

More information: Simeon I. Bogdanov et al. Ultrabright Room-Temperature Sub-Nanosecond Emission from Single Nitrogen-Vacancy Centers Coupled to Nanopatch Antennas, Nano Letters (2018). DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b01415

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North Western U: Study Provides insight into how Nanoparticles interact with Biological Systems


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Computer simulation of a lipid corona around a 5-nanometer nanoparticle showing ammonium-phosphate ion pairing. Credit: Northwestern University

Personal electronic devices—smartphones, computers, TVs, tablets, screens of all kinds—are a significant and growing source of the world’s electronic waste. Many of these products use nanomaterials, but little is known about how these modern materials and their tiny particles interact with the environment and living things.

Now a research team of Northwestern University chemists and colleagues from the national Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology has discovered that when certain coated  interact with living organisms it results in new properties that cause the nanoparticles to become sticky. Fragmented  coronas form on the particles, causing them to stick together and grow into long kelp-like strands. Nanoparticles with 5-nanometer diameters form long structures that are microns in size in solution. The impact on cells is not known.

“Why not make a particle that is benign from the beginning?” said Franz M. Geiger, professor of chemistry in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He led the Northwestern portion of the research.

“This study provides insight into the molecular mechanisms by which nanoparticles interact with biological systems,” Geiger said. “This may help us understand and predict why some /ligand coating combinations are detrimental to cellular organisms while others are not. We can use this to engineer nanoparticles that are benign by design.”

Using experiments and computer simulations, the research team studied polycation-wrapped gold nanoparticles and their interactions with a variety of bilayer membrane models, including bacteria. The researchers found that a nearly circular layer of lipids forms spontaneously around the particles. These “fragmented lipid coronas” have never been seen before.

The study points to solving problems with chemistry. Scientists can use the findings to design a better ligand coating for nanoparticles that avoids the ammonium-phosphate interaction, which causes the aggregation. (Ligands are used in nanomaterials for layering.)

The results will be published Oct. 18 in the journal Chem.

Geiger is the study’s corresponding author. Other authors include scientists from the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology’s other institutional partners. Based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the center studies engineered nanomaterials and their interaction with the environment, including biological systems—both the negative and positive aspects.

“The nanoparticles pick up parts of the lipid cellular membrane like a snowball rolling in a snowfield, and they become sticky,” Geiger said. “This unintended effect happens because of the presence of the nanoparticle. It can bring lipids to places in cells where lipids are not meant to be.”

The experiments were conducted in idealized laboratory settings that nevertheless are relevant to environments found during the late summer in a landfill—at 21-22 degrees Celsius and a couple feet below ground, where soil and groundwater mix and the food chain begins.

By pairing spectroscopic and imaging experiments with atomistic and coarse-grain simulations, the researchers identified that ion pairing between the lipid head groups of biological membranes and the polycations’ ammonium groups in the nanoparticle wrapping leads to the formation of fragmented lipid coronas. These coronas engender new properties, including composition and stickiness, to the particles with diameters below 10 nanometers.

The study’s insights help predict the impact that the increasingly widespread use of engineered nanomaterials has on the nanoparticles’ fate once they enter the food chain, which many of them may eventually do.

“New technologies and mass consumer products are emerging that feature nanomaterials as critical operational components,” Geiger said. “We can upend the existing paradigm in nanomaterial production towards one in which companies design nanomaterials to be sustainable from the beginning, as opposed to risking expensive product recalls—or worse—down the road.”

 Explore further: Water matters to metal nanoparticles

More information: “Lipid Corona Formation from Nanoparticle Interactions with Bilayers,” Chem (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.chempr.2018.09.018

 

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

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.”

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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


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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


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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.

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


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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

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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

Update: The Growth of EV Charging Stations in Europe – From Cities to Motorways: Video + Tony Seba on ‘Mobility Disruption’


Fastned-EV-fast-charging-station-

The battle over how and where Europeans charge their electric cars is expanding from the cities to the motorway’s and beyond. But if electric vehicles (EVs) are ever to overtake petrol and diesel cars then charging will have to be as easy and simple as filling up. This video takes a look at the growth in electric vehicle charging stations and how the electric car market is forecasted to grow. As the electric vehicle market has grown, the need for more EV charging points has also grown.

Watch the Video Below

 

Read and Watch More: 

Mobility Disruption | Tony Seba, Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and Lecturer at Stanford University

Tony Seba, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Author and Thought Leader, Lecturer at Stanford University, Keynote The reinvention and connection between infrastructure and mobility will fundamentally disrupt the clean transport model. It will change the way governments and consumers think about mobility, how power is delivered and consumed and the payment models for usage.

 

img_0651Have You Watched Tenka Energy’s Video on New Nano-Enabled Batteries and Super Capacitors for the EV Markets?

 

Tenka Energy, Inc. Building Ultra-Thin Energy Dense SuperCaps and NexGen Nano-Enabled Pouch & Cylindrical Batteries – Energy Storage Made Small and POWERFUL!