Researchers decipher optical spectra of carbon nanotubes

Building upon this summer’s groundbreaking finding that carbon nanotubes are fluorescent, chemists at Rice University have precisely identified the optical signatures of 33 “species” of nanotubes, establishing a new methodology for assaying nanotubes that is simpler and faster than existing methods. In research published this week by Science magazine, a spectroscopy research team led by Rice Chemistry Professor R. Bruce Weisman detailed the wavelengths of light that are absorbed and emitted by each type of light-emitting nanotube. The findings hold great promise for chemists, physicists and materials scientists studying nanotubes, because it otherwise takes many hours of tedious testing for researchers to assay a single sample of nanotubes, and optical tests could be much faster and simpler.

‘Hormonal’ software could help satellite self-assemble in space

A unique design for self-organizing robots controlled by “hormonal” software is moving toward space. At the Robosphere 2002 conference held at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley November 14-15, Wei-Min Shen of the USC School of Engineering’s Information Sciences Institute (ISI) presented an overview of an audacious project to have pieces of the proposed half-mile-long Space Solar Power System satellite put themselves together–self-assemble–without the help of astronauts.

Hubble helps measure massive extrasolar planet

NASA Hubble Space Telescope’s crisp view has allowed an international team of astronomers to apply a previously unproven technique (astrometry) for making a precise measurement of the mass of a planet outside our solar system. The Hubble results place the planet at 1.89 to 2.4 times the mass of Jupiter, our solar system’s largest world. Previous estimates, about which there are some uncertainties, place the planet’s mass between 1.9 and 100 times that of Jupiter.

Dark Edge of Sunspots Reveal Magnetic Melee

In what may be one of the most important steps in understanding sunspots since they were discovered by Chinese sky watchers more than two millennia ago, researchers have discovered that the lines of magnetic force that surge out of sunspots appear to peel apart like husk off an ear of corn as some of the lines are dragged back beneath the surface by a sort of solar quicksand. This “quicksand” and the magnetic fields it bends create the penumbrae around some sunspots, the strange rings of mid-darkness that have eluded explanation by astronomers since Galileo first sketched them. With the help of sophisticated computer models and data from solar telescopes that give spectacular views of the sun, researchers at the University of Rochester, University of Colorado, University of Cambridge, and University of Leeds have reported an answer to several mysteries of sunspots in the current issue of Nature.

Novel Method for Assembly of Nanoparticles

New York engineers have developed a novel method for assembling nanoparticles into three-dimensional structures that one day may be used to produce new nanoscale tools and machines. The work could be an important step in fulfilling the immense potential of nanotechnology because it gives scientists and engineers improved control and flexibility in the creation of materials for the manufacture of many nanoscale devices. The researchers used non-uniform AC electric fields generated by microfabricated electrodes — which create a motion known as dielectrophoresis — to stack latex, silica or graphite microparticles into two- and three-dimensional structures of prescribed lengths and composition, held together by the electrical field.

Scientists Grow Nano Blood Vessels

Traditional heart bypass surgeries require using veins from the leg to replace damaged blood vessels. Using a nanotechnology developed by Virginia Commonwealth University researchers, doctors soon could be using artificial blood vessels grown in a laboratory to help save half a million lives every year. The new technology produces a natural human blood vessel grown around a scaffold, or tube, made of collagen. Using a process called electrospinning, VCU scientists are making tubes as small as one millimeter in diameter. That’s more than four times smaller than the width of a drinking straw and six times smaller than the smallest commercially available vascular graft.