Entries with tag university of illinois at urbana champaign.

Researchers Use Computer Models to Study Dark Matter

A team of researchers is using computer simulations to study the hypothetical particle that physicists call dark matter. Dark matter is a hypothesized form of matter particle that doesn’t reflect or emit electromagnetic radiation. Physicists have guessed at its existence based on their observation of gravitational effects on physical matter, such as stars and galaxies. Researchers from the Paris Institute of Astrophysics, Ohio State University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created detailed computer simulations exploring the density profiles of possible dark-matter voids in more detail than previous studies. The scientists could use the simulations to compare theory and prior simulations with observational data. The researchers published their findings in the journal Physical Review Letters. (American Physical Society)(Physical Review Letters)

Researchers Replicate Mona Lisa in Miniature on Substrate

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have drawn the Mona Lisa on a substrate surface approximately 30 microns in width. They created the black-and-white Mini Lisa to demonstrate a nanomanufacturing technique known as thermochemical nanolithography. The researchers generated the image pixel by pixel—each 125 nanometers from its neighbor—using varying heat intensities from a controlled, nanoscale chemical reaction in each location to produce the image’s different shades of gray. The demonstration shows the precision and control with which this process can produce chemical concentration gradients and variations on a sub-micrometer scale. The researchers say thermochemical nanolithography is accessible because atomic force microscopes are used, which are fairly common. . The method is also fast, and it could be used for patterning gradients in nanoelectronics, optoelectronics, and bioengineering. Researchers from the US Lawrence Berkeley and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories and from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign collaborated on the project. The scientists published their work in the online journal Langmuir. (EurekAlert)(Georgia Institute of Technology)(Langmuir) 

Researchers Create Powerful Microbatteries

A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign research team has successfully developed new microbatteries that are reportedly the most powerful ever documented. A microbattery is a solid state electrochemical miniaturized power source that could be used in small items such as medical devices or RFID tags. This new technology could be used to create new compact radio-communications and electronics applications such as lasers, sensors, and medical devices. The millimeter-sized batteries provide both high power and high energy, where, with conventional battery technologies, there is a tradeoff between the two. Typically, capacitors release energy very quickly but can only store a small amount of energy while fuel cells and batteries are able to store a great deal of energy, but release or recharge slowly. These high-performance batteries contain a fast-charging cathode with an equally high-performance, microscale anode. Researchers say they can tune the battery such that it has the optimal power and energy capabilities for the specific application. The new technology could be used in transmitters able to broadcast radio signals able 30 times farther than conventional technology, the researchers said. These small batteries could also reportedly recharge 1000 times faster than conventional technologies, they added. The scientists are now working on lowering their batteries’ cost and integrating them with other electronics components. They published their results in the journal Nature Communications. (EurekAlert)(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Researchers Develop Dissolving Electronic Devices

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a new category of dissolving electronic devices. They say the small, biocompatible transient-electronics devices are designed to be used and then “disappear in a controlled and programmable way.” They could be used in various applications. This includes cellular telephones that could, when no longer suitable for an upgrade, stop working and start breaking down; temporary infection-fighting medical implants; or water-quality monitoring sensors. The researchers place devices’ electronics inside a material similar to that found in dissolvable medical sutures, using conventional manufacturing processes. They presented their work at this week’s 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans. (EurekAlert)(American Chemical Society @ EurekAlert)

Scientists Investigate New Fiber Optics Material

Clemson University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers are exploring readily available materials that could be used in place of silica for optical fiber. Today, the large amount of light packed into fibers causes silica to vibrate so much that it creates sound energy. This reduces the fiber’s information-carrying capacity. The Clemson scientists are studying sapphire, among other materials, as a way to avoid these problems. However, sapphire cannot yet be made into optical fiber using conventional commercial methods.  The researchers published their work in Nature Photonics. (EurekAlert)(Clemson University)(Nature Photonics)

Researchers Develop Stretchy Electronic Material

An international research team has developed a material that can be used to create electronics capable of stretching to more than double their original size. Scientists from Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Dalian University of Technology in China, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created the new material by combining a porous polymer (porous polydimethylsiloxane) and a liquid metal (eutectic gallium-indium). This combination lets electricity flow consistently through the device, even when it is being stretched. Loss of conductivity is a common problem with existing stretchable electronics. The researchers said the new material is four times stretchier than conventional elastic electronics materials. They noted that healthcare and other applications could use stretchy devices. They published their research in Nature Communications. (EurekAlert)(Northwestern University)(Nature Communications)

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