Unexpected Metal

Like the discovery of vulcanizing rubber, accidents can have some interesting results.

Article: Plastics unite to make unexpected ‘metal’Jamming the right two pieces of plastic together creates a thin but strongly conducting channel along the junction that acts like a metal, say Dutch researchers. The discovery could lead to a whole new way of making electronics from non-metallic materials, and even new superconductors.

Alberto Morpurgo’s team at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands attached a micrometer-thick crystal of the organic polymer TTF to a similarly thin organic crystal of the polymer TCNQ.

The thin, flexible crystals conform to each other’s shape and stick together due to van der Waals forces, says Morpurgo. Read more

World’s 1st Synthesized Cells

Magic in a test tube, this is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Article: Harvard Team Creates the World’s 1st Synthesized Cells

Synthesized Cells

A single cell is the most awesomely sophisticated molecular machine yet produced. A self-directing, self-replicating micro-factory capable of complex constructions, automated repair and even (like all good sci-fi-sounding devices) self-destruct. The first cells, however, were much less “complex mechanisms” and significantly more “Shake and Bake” – a model that we’re now ready to build ourselves.

These proto-cells didn’t have any sophisticated cellular functions, consisting of nothing more than a fatty cell wall just dense enough to have an inside and an outside, with a speck of DNA on the “not-outside” side. This child’s model of a cell drifted in the chemical soup that created it until the correct nucleotides were absorbed and allowed it to replicated the DNA. Read more

Generating Electricity with Only Water and Air?

I think we are all hoping for a breakthrough, but which one will it be?

Article: New Fuel Cell System ‘Generates Electricity with Only Water, Air’

Genepax Co Ltd explained the technologies used in its new fuel cell system “Water Energy System (WES),” which uses water as a fuel and does not emit CO2.

The system can generate power just by supplying water and air to the fuel and air electrodes, respectively, the company said at the press conference, which took place June 12, 2008, at the Osaka Assembly Hall.

The basic power generation mechanism of the new system is similar to that of a normal fuel cell, which uses hydrogen as a fuel. According to Genepax, the main feature of the new system is that it uses the company’s membrane electrode assembly (MEA), which contains a material capable of breaking down water into hydrogen and oxygen through a chemical reaction.

Though the company did not reveal the details, it “succeeded in adopting a well-known process to produce hydrogen from water to the MEA,” said Hirasawa Kiyoshi, the company’s president. This process is allegedly similar to the mechanism that produces hydrogen by a reaction of metal hydride and water. But compared with the existing method, the new process is expected to produce hydrogen from water for longer time, the company said. Read more

Electron Turbine Printer?

Next we will be printing entire libraries on the “head” of an atom.

Article: ‘Electron turbine’ could print designer molecules

A simple microscopic motor

A carbon nanotube that spins in a current of electrons, like a wind turbine in a breeze, could become the world’s smallest printer or shrink computer memory, UK researchers say.

The design is simple. A carbon nanotube 10 nanometres long and 1 nm wide is suspended between two others, its ends nested inside them to form a rotating joint. When a direct current is passed along the tubes, the central one spins around.

That design has as yet only been tested using advanced computer simulations by Colin Lambert and colleagues at Lancaster University, Lancashire, UK.

But Adrian Bachtold of the Catalan Institute for Nanotechnology, who was not involved in the work, intends to build the electron turbines and says it should be straightforward.

Researchers have made or designed a range of small-scale motors in recent years, using everything from DNA to light sensitive molecules to cell-transport proteins.

The Lancaster design is one of the simplest yet. Imagined applications for nanomotors range from shrinking optical communications components to new forms of computer memory.

World’s Biggest Solar Farm

Will this year be the turning point where governments finally realize we have to find and promote alternative energy sources?

Article: World’s biggest solar farm at centre of Portugal’s ambitious energy plan

Moura Photovoltaic Solar Power station in Amareleja

From a distance the bizarre structures sprouting from the high Alentejo plain in eastern Portugal resemble a field of mechanical sunflowers. Each of the 2,520 giant solar panels is the size of a house and they are as technically sophisticated as a car. Their reflective heads tilt to the sky at a permanent 45 degrees as they track the sun through 240 degrees every day.

The world’s largest solar photovoltaic farm, generating electricity straight from sunlight, is taking shape near Moura, a small town in a thinly populated and impoverished region which boasts the most sunshine per square metre a year in Europe.

When fully commissioned later this year, the £250m farm set on abandoned state-owned land will be twice the size of any other similar project in the world, covering an area nearly twice the size of London’s Hyde park. It is expected to supply 45MW of electricity each year, enough to power 30,000 homes.

Nanobots a Reality?

I predict a breakthrough in the next 5 years, with so many other technologies running full throttle in new developments there has to be a crossover that opens a new door for nanobot technology.

Article: Are nanobots on their way?
US researchers have built a proto-prototype nano assembler
The first real steps towards building a microscopic device that can construct nano machines have been taken by US researchers. Writing in the peer-reviewed publication, International Journal of Nanomanufacturing from Inderscience Publishers, researchers describe an early prototype for a nanoassembler.

In his 1986 book, The Engines of Creation, K Eric Drexler set down the long-term aim of nanotechnology – to create an assembler, a microscopic device, a robot, that could construct yet smaller devices from individual atoms and molecules. Read more