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Gizmorama - August 29, 2016

Good Morning,

Tired of the sun's rays turning up the heat in your car? Well, researchers may have developed a new window coating that will let the sunlight through, but block the excess thermal radiation. Sounds cool to me!

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

Until Next Time,

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*-- Smart window coating could keep cars cool in the sun --*

SINGAPORE - For populations living at or near the equator, heat is plentiful. If there were a way to get the visible light from the sun, without all that excess thermal radiation, summer might be a whole lot more bearable.

A new window coating promises to do just that. Researchers at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore, or A*STAR, have developed a nanoparticle coating that allows the passage of visible light but blocks 90 percent of the heat carried by the sun's rays.

The new coating could lessen the burden on air conditioning units in buildings across Southeast Asia and elsewhere.

"In tropical Singapore, where air conditioning is the largest component of a building's energy requirements, even a small reduction in heat intake can translate into significant savings," Hui Huang, a researcher at the A*STAR Singapore Institute of Manufacturing and Technology, said in a news release.

Reduced reliance on air conditioning could curb carbon emissions, researchers say.

Huang and his colleagues successfully produced antimony-doped tin oxide nanocrystals using a solvothermal method. The method -- which employs intense pressure but modest amounts of heat -- allows scientists to tightly control the synthesis process and the size of the nanoparticles.

The method yields particles that measure 10 nanometers. The coating's particles let in 80 percent of visible light while blocking out almost all near-infrared radiation.

"These figures are much better than those of coatings obtained using commercial antimony-doped tin oxide nanopowders," Huang said. "In particular, the infrared shielding performance of our small antimony-doped tin oxide nanocrystals is twice that of larger commercial antimony-doped tin oxide powders."

Huang and his research partners -- who described their technology in the journal Materials & Design -- are now working with a glass company to take their smart window technology to market.

* Tiny graphene balloons can withstand tremendous pressures *

MANCHESTER, England - When a layer of graphene is laid on a flat substrate, small balloons often form. Scientists mostly considered the anomalies an annoyance.

But new research into the tiny pockets of the one-atom-thick material has revealed novel characteristics, like the ability to withstand tremendous pressures.

Researchers realized these tiny pressure machines could be useful. They could be used as experimental capsules, in which to test how different molecules react to intense pressures.

Scientists at the University of Manchester measured the pressures inside tiny bubbles made of graphene -- as well as pockets made of single layers of molybdenum disulfide, MoS2, and boron nitride -- using an atomic force microscope.

The tip of the microscope was used to make a dent in the nanobubbles, allowing scientists to measure the resistance and calculate the internal pressure.

Some bubbles showed the ability to withstand internal pressures as high as 200 megapascals, or 2,000 atmospheres. Scientists expect smaller bubbles to withstand even more intense pressures.

Scientists are now contemplating potential applications of the unusual balloons.

"Such pressures are enough to modify the properties of a material trapped inside the bubbles and, for example, can force crystallization of a liquid well above its normal freezing temperature," Ekaterina Khestanova, PhD student at Manchester, said in a news release.

Researchers detailed the nanobubles in a new paper, published this week in the journal Nature Communications.

"Those balloons are ubiquitous," explained study co-author Sir Andre Geim. "One can now start thinking about creating them intentionally to change enclosed materials or study the properties of atomically thin membranes under high strain and pressure."


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