Touchscreens made of carbon

Just touching it slightly with the tips of your fingers is enough. You can effortlessly write, navigate, open menu windows or rotate images on touchscreens. Within fractions of a second your touch is translated into control commands that a computer …

New method for producing carbon nanoscrolls, an alternative to nanotubes

Chemists report in the Feb. 28 issue of Science a room-temperature chemical method for producing a new form of carbon called carbon nanoscrolls. Nanoscrolls are closely related to the much touted carbon nanotubes — which may have numerous industrial applications — but have significant advantages over them, said Lisa Viculis and Julia Mack, the lead authors of the article and graduate students in the laboratory of Richard B. Kaner, UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

Surfactant curtails nanotube clumping in water, removing barrier to applications

Scientists have long touted carbon nanotubes as a futuristic means of delivering drugs, fortifying brittle materials and conducting current in miniaturized circuits. But attempts to introduce actual nanotubes into these roles have often been stopped in their tracks by the slender filaments’ stubborn and unhelpful tendency to clump together in solution. Now scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have found that a readily available chemical, a surfactant called sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate (NaDDBS), disperses nanotubes in water with remarkable efficiency. The discovery, described in a paper published this month in the journal Nanoletters, represents an important step towards wider applications of nanotubes.

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.

Let’s get small, redux

Intel is set to disclose some of its plans in nanotechnology, sure to be key to the company’s chips for decades to come. As reported by CNET’s, Sunlin Chou, senior VP of technology and manufacturing, will discuss some of the plans next week at the Intel Developer Forum in San Jose. Topping the topics likely to be covered: Carbon nanotubes and multigate transistors. Nanotubes are strings of carbon atoms tightly bonded together that show promise in manufacturing everything from tennis rackets to electronics. In computer chips, they can theoretically be used to replace the wispy metal wires that now define a chip’s circuitry. That could make processors smaller and cheaper. Multigate transistors, meanwhile, are a way of addressing the conundrum faced by all chipmakers: The more powerful processors become, the more electricity must flow through them. But as chips shrink in size, the extremely small transistors that control this flow are growing overloaded, something like hooking up a fire hose to a Waterpik nozzle, as CNET puts it. One way around that is to give each transistor more than one gate, an approach that IBM is using in some of its products already. Although analysts say they doubt Intel will copy this entirely, the company likely has a similar approach up its sleeve.