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Gizmorama - June 15, 2016

Good Morning,

Mark my words...wearable electronics will be the wave of the future! They will be thanks to a new bendable nanomaterial. No, seriously! You'll see!

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- New nanomaterial ideal for wearable electronics --*

CHICAGO - Scientists have created a new bendable, stretchable nanomaterial ideal for use in wearable electronics and other smart materials.

The nanomaterial is a thin film made by turning a tangled web of nanofiber into a solid substrate via a process called electroplating. In addition to being bendable and stretchable, the film is also transparent and highly conductive.

The material is the product of collaboration among scientists from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Korea University. Researchers described the novel film in the journal Advanced Materials.

Though wearable electronics may be its more exciting application, the "self-junctioned copper nano-chicken wire" could also be used to make roll-up touch-screen displays and flexible solar cells.

"It's important, but difficult, to make materials that are both transparent and conductive," Alexander Yarin, a professor of mechanical engineering at UIC, explained in a news release.

Scientists have previously created smart skin materials, but the new film's electrical resistance is at least ten times lower than the next most conductive stretchable nanomaterial. Testing proved the nanomaterial's electronic qualities are retained after heavy stretching and bending.

Researcher created the "nano-chicken wire" by electrospinning a mat of tiny fibers called polyacrylonitrile. The tiny fiber is spooled onto a substrate and coils upon itself, forming an intricate mat. The wire web is then spatter-coated with a metal alloy and plated with copper.

"We can then take the metal-plated fibers and transfer to any surface -- the skin of the hand, a leaf, or glass," Yarin added.

And because most of the film is made of holes, it's transparent.

* Scientists mix molecules with light in nanoscale 'hall of mirrors' *

CAMBRIDGE, England - Researchers have mixed molecules with light at room temperature. It's the first time such a feat has been accomplished.

Scientists did so by trapping a colored dye molecule in a gap between a gold nanoparticle and a mirror. The gap measured just one nanometer across.

Normally, when a molecule emits light, the photon escapes never to return. In this case, the light particle is prevented from fully escaping by the mirror -- its energy oscillating between light and molecule. The two entities become one.

"It's like a hall of mirrors for a molecule, only spaced a hundred thousand times thinner than a human hair," lead researcher Jeremy Baumberg, a scientist with the NanoPhotonics Centre at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory, explained in a news release.

Researchers described their novel feat in a new paper, published this week in the journal Nature.

The nanoscale hall of mirrors would have been a waste if scientists hadn't also figured out how to properly position their dye molecule.

"Our molecules like to lie down flat on the gold, and it was really hard to persuade them to stand up straight," said lead study author Rohit Chikkaraddy.

A hollow barrel-like molecular cage known as a cucurbiturils did the trick, keeping the molecule in an upright position.

The split of the molecule's emissions spectrum into two quantum states served as proof of mixing between the light and molecule.

Proving that light and molecule mixing was possible was difficult, but now scientists are developing ways to use the phenomenon to manipulate the physical and chemical properties of matter. Researchers think the technology could also be used to process quantum information.


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