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Highlights

  • Scientists have designed a simple and direct method for the synthesis of a solid-state hydrogen storage material, alane (AlH3).  Alane, one of the forefront materials for practical solid-state hydrogen storage, has a hydrogen capacity of 10% by weight and gives up hydrogen in a single step at the temperature that is close to the operating temperature of hydrogen fuel cells.  Prior to this work, realizing the enormous potential of alane has been frustrated by the lack of a straightforward method for its synthesis.  The one-step synthesis takes under an hour and...

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  • If nanostructures were authors, cadmium selenide (CdSe) nanorods would be Hemingway.  Like him, they can endure the heat (up to 662 °F for long periods of time) and don’t break down (in the presence of oxygen or oxygen-like molecules).  CdSe nanorods are one of the II-VI semiconductor nanostructures that are used in various energy conversion applications, including photocatalysis.  Using this material, solar energy can be transformed into hydrogen fuel.  A sustainability challenge is finding a photocatalyst that has both predictable electronic properties and the...

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  • For the first time, scientists have visualized the first steps of bacterial protein involvement in the formation of crystal seeds, or nucleation. Magnetotactic bacteria are a group of bacteria that naturally produce magnetic crystals and the protein Mms6 is thought to play an important role in this process. Inspired by the bacteria’s ability to create magnetic crystals, researchers use this protein to make similar particles in the laboratory Using in situ fluid cell transmission electron microscopy (TEM), a team of materials chemists, microscopists, and chemical engineers has...

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  • Crowding controls whether carbon chains or a hydrogen atom will transfer from transition metal molecular complexes to acceptor molecules. To gain this new insight into the factors governing the onset of hydrogen abstraction from metal alkyls, researchers carefully designed experiments involving series of cobalt and chromium alkyls.  The results show that when the alkyl chain is only one carbon long, the alkyl group will transfer to a rhodium acceptor molecule.  But, if the chain is made up of two or more carbons, crowding makes it hard for the alkyl group to transfer.  In...

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  • A new economical and efficient catalyst for upgrading renewable feedstocks to green diesel has been created.  Green diesel, produced by converting renewable feedstocks like vegetable oil, animal fats, and algae, has a chemical composition very similar to that of petroleum-based diesel, but burns cleaner.  Researchers investigated the detailed reaction pathways that enable the conversion.  They synthesized iron nanoparticles supported on mesoporous silica nanomaterials.  The use of iron is a cost-efficient alternative to more expensive metals.  The iron catalyst...

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  • By slipping iron between two nitrogen atoms in a lithium matrix, researchers are able to trick iron into having magnetic properties like those of rare-earth elements.Rare-earth magnets are stronger than typical iron-based magnets and have high magnetic anisotropy, meaning they are easily magnetized in one particular direction.  Rare-earth elements are in high demand, difficult to find in large concentrations, and costly to mine.  Iron, in contrast, is abundant and cheap.  If iron can be made to behave like a rare-earth element, strong permanent magnets could be made without...

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  • Researchers have developed the first theoretical model of the self-assembly of nanocubes that have been coated with polymers, including DNA and have shown exciting possibilities for experimentally programming self-assembled structures.  While spherical nanoparticles can align in any direction, nanocubes will only align with their faces oriented in certain ways.  Polymer-coated nanocubes, however, have the potential to arrange themselves differently than either uncoated nanocubes or spherical nanoparticles.  When grafted with DNA, the results show the possibility of the...

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  • Broadband terahertz light emitters have been designed and fabricated using nanoscale U-shaped building blocks. The terahertz spectral range sits between infrared and typical radar frequencies, and the challenges of efficiently generating and detecting terahertz radiation has limited its use. However, broadband terahertz sources offer exciting possibilities to study fundamental physics principles, to develop non-invasive material imaging and sensing, and make possible terahertz information, communication, processing and storage. The building blocks, known as split ring resonators, are...

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  • The first solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (SSNMR) spectroscopy measurements under magic angle spinning at an unprecedented 100,000 rotations per second have been reported.  SSNMR is a researcher’s equivalent to MRI imaging in medicine.  For solid materials, the faster the sample spins the narrower the lines in the data which enables new insights in materials.  Ultrafast spinning occurs at frequencies of 100 kilohertz (or faster), meaning in the time it takes you to blink it will have spun 35,000 times.  Researchers used this technology to study the coordination...

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  • A new ultra-fast laser technique has yielded insights into how iron arsenide materials evolve to form a superconducting state. This transformation involves complex changes in magnetism, structural order, and electronic order that appear to be going on simultaneously — not simply competing with each other.  Only by looking at very fast time scales (10 thousandths of a billionth of a second) and using the highest quality single crystals could these transformational changes be separated and analyzed; ultra-fast spectroscopy enabled scientists to study the superconducting transformation...

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