Hydrogen bonds directly detected for the first time
For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.
Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are connected to one another via hydrogen atoms, an interaction known as hydrogen bonding. These interactions play an important role in nature, because they are responsible for specific properties of proteins or nucleic acids and, for example, also ensure that water has a high boiling temperature.
To date, it has not been possible to conduct a spectroscopic or electron microscopic analysis of hydrogen and the hydrogen bonds in single molecules, and investigations using atomic force microscopy have also not yielded any clear results.
Dr. Shigeki Kawai, from Professor Ernst Meyer’s team at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute and the Department of Physics at the University of Basel, has now succeeded in using a high-resolution atomic force microscope to study hydrogen atoms in individual cyclic hydrocarbon compounds.
Choosing the right molecules for a clear view
In close collaboration with colleagues from Japan, the researchers selected compounds whose configuration resembles that of a propeller. These propellanes arrange themselves on a surface in such a way that two hydrogen atoms always point upwards. If the tip of the atomic force microscope, which is functionalized with carbon monoxide, is brought close enough to these hydrogen atoms, hydrogen bonds are formed that can then be examined.
Hydrogen bonds are much weaker than chemical bonds, but stronger than intermolecular van der Waals interactions. The measured forces and distances between the oxygen atoms at the tip of the atomic force microscope and the propellane’s hydrogen atoms correspond very well to the calculations performed by Prof. Adam S. Foster from Aalto University in Finland. They show that the interaction clearly involves hydrogen bonds. The measurements mean that the much weaker van der Waals forces and the stronger ionic bonds can be excluded.
With this study, the researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have opened up new ways to identify three-dimensional molecules such as nucleic acids or polymers via observation of hydrogen atoms.
This supercapacitor battery can be recharged 30,000 times
A thin, flexible supercapacitor boasts high energy and power densities. Credit: University of Central Florida
Everyone and anyone with a
smartphone know it is not long before your phone holds a charge for less and
less time as the battery begins to degrade. But new research by scientists at
the NanoScience Technology Center at the University of Central Florida (UCF),
USA, could change that. The team have developed a new method for producing
flexible supercapacitors that can store greater amounts of energy and can be
recharged over 30,000 times without degradation. This new method could
transform technology such as electric vehicles and mobile phones in the future.
‘If you were to replace the
batteries with these supercapacitors, you could charge your mobile phone in a
few seconds and you wouldn’t need to charge it again for over a week,’ said
University of Central Florida researcher Nitin Choudhary.
The UCF team has attempted
to apply newly discovered 2D materials that measure just a few atoms thick to
supercapacitors. Other scientists have also tried formulations with other 2D
materials including graphene, but had only limited success. The new
supercapacitors are composed of millions of nanometre-thick wires coated with
shells of 2D materials. The core facilitates the super-fast charging and
discharging that makes supercapacitors powerful, and the 2D coating delivers
the energy storage ability.
‘We developed a simple
chemical synthesis approach so we can very nicely integrate the existing
materials with the two-dimensional materials,’ said Yeonwoong Eric Jung, assistant
professor of the study. Jung is working with UCF’s Office of Technology
Transfer to patent the new process. ‘It’s
not ready for commercialisation,’ Jung said. ‘But this is a proof-of-concept
demonstration, and our studies show there are very high impacts for many
Scientists from China and the US have found a pioneering way to inject a tiny electronic mesh sensor into the brain that fully integrates with cerebral matter and enables computers to monitor brain activity.
Researchers from Harvard and the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology in Beijing have succeeded in inventing a flexible electrical circuit that fits inside a 0.1mm-diameter glass syringe in a water-based solution.
When injected into the brains of mice, the mesh unfurled to 30 times its size and mouse brain cells grew around the mesh, forming connections with the wires in the flexible mesh circuit. The biochemical mouse brain completely accepted the mechanical component and integrated with it without any damage being caused to the mouse.
Researchers in Switzerland say they have punched precisely shaped holes in films of graphene, a two-dimensional sheet of linked carbon atoms. Their development means graphene, a material that is lightweight and strong, can be made into the thinnest possible membrane with pores of exact size to exclude specific molecules.
Engineers at ETH Zurich created the membrane out of two graphene sheets pressed together. Their prototypes were 100,000 times thinner than a human hair.
“With a thickness of just two carbon atoms, this is the thinnest porous membrane that is technologically possible to make,” said Jakob Buchheim, a nanoscience doctoral student in the university’s Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering. He is a lead author of the study published today in the journal Science.
Along with major applications like filtering water, separating gaseous mixtures and removing impurities from liquids, graphene membranes could be a game changer in rain gear and waterproofing. The researchers say the material could be manufactured to make a coating that excludes liquids while letting gases right on through.
Some scholarship resources for STEM college students
Amgen is a summer research program in science and biotechnology with the opportunity to engage in a hands-on research experience at a leading US educational institution. Deadline is in early February 2015.
Google Anita Borg is for women studying computer science, computer engineering, informatics, or a closely related technical field and maintaining an excellent academic record. Google Anita Borg Scholarship recipients will each receive a $10,000 award for the 2015-2016 academic year. Deadline is January 15, 2015.
DAAD RISE provides summer undergraduate research at universities and research institutions in Germany. No German language is required. The foundation deadline is January 15, 2015.
DOE MLEF (Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship) Program provides students with an opportunity to gain and develop research skills with the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy for 10 weeks over the summer. Deadline is January 2, 2015.
DOE NNSA SSGF (Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship) deadline is January 14, 2015.
Nano Japan: International Research Experience for Undergraduates summer program in Japan for freshman or sophomores, especially those from underrepresented groups, interested nanoscience. Deadline is January 23, 2015.
Whitaker funds graduate study or research in biomedical engineering or bioengineering fields in diverse regions of the world. Deadline is January 20, 2015 or February 3, 2015.
The library is so peaceful but so colllld. I’m so glad I brought a cardigan with me or I would freeze. Settling into more nanoscience and some data analysis of last weeks shear exfoliation experiments.
Albert Einstein once told a friend that quantum mechanics doesn’t hold water in his scientific world view because “physics should represent a reality in time and space, free from spooky actions at a distance.” That spooky action at a distance is entanglement, a quantum phenomenon in which two particles, separated by any amount of distance, can instantaneously affect one another as if part of a unified system.
Now, scientists have successfully hijacked that quantum weirdness – doing so reliably for the first time – to produce what many sci-fi fans have long dreamt up: teleportation. No, not beaming humans aboard the USS Enterprise, but the teleportation of data.
Physicists at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, part of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, report that they sent quantum data concerning the spin state of an electron to another electron about 10 feet away. Quantum teleportation has been recorded in the past, but the results in this study have an unprecedented replication rate of 100 percent at the current distance, the team said.
Thanks to the strange properties of entanglement, this allows for that data – only quantum data, not classical information like messages or even simple bits – to be teleported seemingly faster than the speed of light. The news was reported first by The New York Times on Thursday, following the publication of a paper in the journal Science.
In what may be the coolest use of a videogame accessory ever, a scientist at Brookhaven is using an Xbox controller to open a window into the nanoworld.
Engineer Ray Conley designed a one-of-a-kind machine to grow atomically precise lenses that can focus x-rays to within one billionth of one meter, revealing the nanoscale structure of materials such as electric vehicle fuel cells.
To work on the machine, Ray used to have to manually enter commands into a computer to move a crucial transport car along tracks sealed inside a vacuum chamber. This meant walking back and forth between the machine and computer, eating up time and sacrificing precision.
So he asked an assistant to help him find a joystick to drive the machine, and they ended up programming a wireless Xbox controller to do the job. It’s far more efficient and way more fun.
And they even enabled the rumble pack to let Ray know how fast the transport car is moving inside the machine.
Bonus trivia: The massive lens-building machine is nicknamed Megatron and features a Decepticon sticker on its side. During construction, an engineer mistakenly called a magnetron device “megatron,” and the name stuck.
Winner Best short film at the Scinema Science film festival 2010.
Where and what is nano? How will it shape our future? Nanoscience is the study of phenomena and manipulation of materials at the nanoscale, where properties differ significantly from those at a larger scale. The strange world of nanoscience - it can take you into atoms and beyond the stars.
On Thursday, scientists from the Netherlands announced that they were able to achieve quantum teleportation — a feat that Einstein once dismissed as “spooky action at a distance.”
In a new paper published in the journal Science, physicists at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the Delft University of Technology said they were able to “reliably teleport information between two quantum bits separated by three meters, or about 10 feet.” This goes against Einstein’s notion of particle entanglement, and is a huge breakthrough for quantum mechanical theory — and information transmission as we know it.
For the last few days and for the next month, I am at Nancy Université working in the lab of Professeur Stéphane Mangin. For this period of time, I will be investigating spin transfer effects in nanopillars with perpendicular magnetization (specifically telegraph noise and pinwheel motion).
I am a PhD student at University of California - San Diego and I study nanomagnetism. Nanomagnetism is a broad field of research that spans the subjects of materials science, physics, and electrical engineering. Research in this area aims to investigate the quantum mechanical effects that arise when the sizes of magnets are reduced to angstrom (1/10 nm) scales. This involves growth and optimization of magnetic materials, theoretical physics calculations, and design of magnetic systems for interesting and practical applications.
This field is huge. It has become apparent to me in the past few years that the task of a PhD researcher is merely to specialize in attempt to make a small, lasting dent into the understanding of these huge fields. My current area of specialization now is: investigation of materials for spintronics, mostly STT-MRAM.
STT-MRAM stands for Spin Transfer Torque Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory (mouthful!). This is a technology that is heavily anticipated to replace ALL current forms of computer memory (DRAM, FLASH, Magnetic Hard Drives, etc) due to the massive advantages that it offers over existing technologies. DRAM is in computer/laptop/phone right now and is what people call “memory” (eg. DDR SDRAM). FLASH memory is in…flash drives and solid state hard drives. And most of us have a regular, spinning platter, magnetic hard drive in our computers right now.
These things all work fine…so why do we need STT-MRAM?
1.) DRAM is volatile, so when you turn your computer off…the memory is gone! It needs constant power to remember stuff. STT-MRAM is non-volatile.
2.) FLASH has limited read/write cycles! That’s right, FLASH relies on the physical movement and trapping of ions for storage, so it will wear out with use. STT-MRAM relies on changing the orientation of a magnet, read and write all you want.
3.) Hard drives are mechanical, there is something in there spinning at 7,200RPM and tiny actuators moving around nonstop…it will break with time or when you drop your computer. Also, hard drives are close to superparamagnetic density limits that affect the stability of your data. STT-MRAM is stable.
4.) STT-MRAM is faster and uses less power.
STT-MRAM is real, and it is coming…look for it in your phones and computers in the next few years :)
TL;DR: My name is Jimmy, I study string theory.
(For the record, these aren’t my images…they’re from google images, Grandis, IBM, Fujitsu, and Max-Planck Institut.)