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Printed, Flexible and Rechargeable Battery Can Power Wearable Sensors

Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego have developed the first printed battery that is flexible, stretchable and rechargeable. The zinc batteries could be used to power everything from wearable sensors to solar cells and other kinds of electronics. The work appears in the April 19, 2017 issue of Advanced Energy Materials.

Neutrons Provide the First Nanoscale Look at a Living Cell Membrane

A research team from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has performed the first-ever direct nanoscale examination of a living cell membrane. In doing so, it also resolved a long-standing debate by identifying tiny groupings of lipid molecules that are likely key to the cell's functioning.

How X-Rays Helped to Solve Mystery of Floating Rocks

Experiments at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source have helped scientists to solve a mystery of why some rocks can float for years in the ocean, traveling thousands of miles before sinking.

Special X-Ray Technique Allows Scientists to See 3-D Deformations

In a new study published last Friday in Science, researchers at Argonne used an X-ray scattering technique called Bragg coherent diffraction imaging to reconstruct in 3-D the size and shape of grain defects. These defects create imperfections in the lattice of atoms inside a grain that can give rise to interesting material properties and effects.

Neptune: Neutralizer-Free Plasma Propulsion

The most established plasma propulsion concepts are gridded-ion thrusters that accelerate and emit a larger number of positively charged particles than those that are negatively charged. To enable the spacecraft to remain charge-neutral, a "neutralizer" is used to inject electrons to exactly balance the positive ion charge in the exhaust beam. However, the neutralizer requires additional power from the spacecraft and increases the size and weight of the propulsion system. Researchers are investigating how the radio-frequency self-bias effect can be used to remove the neutralizer altogether, and they report their work in this week's Physics of Plasmas.

Report Sheds New Insights on the Spin Dynamics of a Material Candidate for Low-Power Devices

In a report published in Nano LettersArgonne researchers reveal new insights into the properties of a magnetic insulator that is a candidate for low-power device applications; their insights form early stepping-stones towards developing high-speed, low-power electronics that use electron spin rather than charge to carry information.

Researchers Find Computer Code That Volkswagen Used to Cheat Emissions Tests

An international team of researchers has uncovered the mechanism that allowed Volkswagen to circumvent U.S. and European emission tests over at least six years before the Environmental Protection Agency put the company on notice in 2015 for violating the Clean Air Act. During a year-long investigation, researchers found code that allowed a car's onboard computer to determine that the vehicle was undergoing an emissions test.

Physicists Discover That Lithium Oxide on Tokamak Walls Can Improve Plasma Performance

A team of physicists has found that a coating of lithium oxide on the inside of fusion machines known as tokamaks can absorb as much deuterium as pure lithium can.

Scientists Perform First Basic Physics Simulation of Spontaneous Transition of the Edge of Fusion Plasma to Crucial High-Confinement Mode

PPPL physicists have simulated the spontaneous transition of turbulence at the edge of a fusion plasma to the high-confinement mode that sustains fusion reactions. The research was achieved with the extreme-scale plasma turbulence code XGC developed at PPPL in collaboration with a nationwide team.

Green Fleet Technology

New research at Penn State addresses the impact delivery trucks have on the environment by providing green solutions that keep costs down without sacrificing efficiency.


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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Graduates Urged to Embrace Change at 211th Commencement

Describing the dizzying pace of technological innovation, former United States Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz urged graduates to "anticipate career change, welcome it, and manage it to your and your society's benefit" at the 211th Commencement at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Saturday.

ORNL Welcomes Innovation Crossroads Entrepreneurial Research Fellows

Oak Ridge National Laboratory today welcomed the first cohort of innovators to join Innovation Crossroads, the Southeast region's first entrepreneurial research and development program based at a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory.

Department of Energy Secretary Recognizes Argonne Scientists' Work to Fight Ebola, Cancer

Two groups of researchers at Argonne earned special awards from the office of the U.S. Secretary of Energy for addressing the global health challenges of Ebola and cancer.

Jefferson Science Associates, LLC Recognized for Leadership in Small Business Utilization

Jefferson Lab/Jefferson Science Associates has a long-standing commitment to doing business with and mentoring small businesses. That commitment and support received national recognition at the 16th Annual Dept. of Energy Small Business Forum and Expo held May 16-18, 2017 in Kansas City, Mo.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President's Commencement Colloquy to Address "Criticality, Incisiveness, Creativity"

To kick off the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Commencement weekend, the annual President's Commencement Colloquy will take place on Friday, May 19, beginning at 3:30 p.m. The discussion, titled "Criticality, Incisiveness, Creativity," will include the Honorable Ernest J. Moniz, former Secretary of Energy, and the Honorable Roger W. Ferguson Jr., President and CEO of TIAA, and will be moderated by Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson.

ORNL, University of Tennessee Launch New Doctoral Program in Data Science

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has approved a new doctoral program in data science and engineering as part of the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education.

SurfTec Receives $1.2 Million Energy Award to Develop Novel Coating

The Department of Energy has awarded $1.2 million to SurfTec LLC, a company affiliated with the U of A Technology Development Foundation, to continue developing a nanoparticle-based coating to replace lead-based journal bearings in the next generation of electric machines.

Ames Laboratory Scientist Inducted Into National Inventors Hall of Fame

Iver Anderson, senior metallurgist at Ames Laboratory, has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

DOE HPC4Mfg Program Funds 13 New Projects to Improve U.S. Energy Technologies Through High Performance Computing

A U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program designed to spur the use of high performance supercomputers to advance U.S. manufacturing is funding 13 new industry projects for a total of $3.9 million.

Penn State Wind Energy Club Breezes to Victory in Collegiate Wind Competition

The Penn State Wind Energy Club breezed through the field at the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition 2017 Technical Challenge, held April 20-22 at the National Wind Technology Center near Boulder, Colorado--earning its third overall victory in four years at the Collegiate Wind Competition.


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Casting a Wide Net

Designed molecules will provide positive impacts in energy production by selectively removing unwanted ions from complex solutions.

New Software Tools Streamline DNA Sequence Design-and-Build Process

Enhanced software tools will accelerate gene discovery and characterization, vital for new forms of fuel production.

The Ultrafast Interplay Between Molecules and Materials

Computer calculations by the Center for Solar Fuels, an Energy Frontier Research Center, shed light on nebulous interactions in semiconductors relevant to dye-sensitized solar cells.

Supercapacitors: WOODn't That Be Nice

Researchers at Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage, an Energy Frontier Research Center, take advantage of nature-made materials and structure for energy storage research.

Groundwater Flow Is Key for Modeling the Global Water Cycle

Water table depth and groundwater flow are vital to understanding the amount of water that plants transmit to the atmosphere.

Finding the Correct Path

A new computational technique greatly simplifies the complex reaction networks common to catalysis and combustion fields.

Opening Efficient Routes to Everyday Plastics

A new material from the Inorganometallic Catalyst Design Center, an Energy Frontier Research Center, facilitates the production of key industrial supplies.

Fight to the Top: Silver and Gold Compete for the Surface of a Bimetallic Solid

It's the classic plot of a buddy movie. Two struggling bodies team up to drive the plot and do good together. That same idea, when it comes to metals, could help scientists solve a big problem: the amount of energy consumed by making chemicals.

Saving Energy Through Light Control

New materials, designed by researchers at the Center for Excitonics, an Energy Frontier Research Center, can reduce energy consumption with the flip of a switch.

Teaching Perovskites to Swim

Scientists at the ANSER Energy Frontier Research Center designed a two-component layer protects a sunlight-harvesting device from water and heat.


Scientists Print Nanoscale Imaging Probe onto Tip of Optical Fiber

Article ID: 674420

Released: 2017-05-09 18:05:37

Source Newsroom: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

  • Credit: Berkeley Lab

    A new process called fiber nanoimprinting is accelerating the fabrication of nano-optical devices, such as this pyramid-shaped Campanile probe imprinted on an optical fiber (captured in a scanning electron microscope image). The gold layer is added after imprinting. The gap at the top is 70 nanometers wide.

Combining speed with incredible precision, a team of researchers has developed a way to print a nanoscale imaging probe onto the tip of a glass fiber as thin as a human hair, accelerating the production of the promising new device from several per month to several per day.

The high-throughput fabrication technique opens the door for the widespread adoption of this and other nano-optical structures, which squeeze and manipulate light in ways that are unachievable by conventional optics. Nano-optics have the potential to be used for imaging, sensing, and spectroscopy, and could help scientists improve solar cells, design better drugs, and make faster semiconductors. A big obstacle to the technology’s commercial use, however, is its time-consuming production process.

The new fabrication method, called fiber nanoimprinting, could unplug this bottleneck. It was developed by scientists at the Molecular Foundry, located at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), in partnership with scientists from Hayward, California-based aBeam Technologies. Their research is reported online May 10 in the journal Scientific Reports.

Their work builds on the Campanile probe, which was developed by Molecular Foundry scientists four years ago. Its tapered, four-sided shape resembles the top of the Campanile clock tower on UC Berkeley’s campus. The probe is mounted at the end of an optical fiber, and focuses an intense beam of light onto a much smaller spot than is possible with current optics. This enables spectroscopic imaging at a resolution 100 times greater than conventional spectroscopy, which only maps the average chemical composition of a material. 

In contrast, the Campanile probe can image the molecule-by-molecule makeup of nanoparticles and other materials. Scientists can use it to examine a nanowire for minute defects, for example, leading to new ways to improve nanowires for use in more efficient solar cells.

But fabricating Campanile probes has been part science and part art. The same applies to other nano-optical devices, such as microscopic lenses and beam splitters, which split one light beam into several. These devices require milling a 3-D shape with sub-100-nanometer scale features on the tip of a wispy fiber, which is much trickier than fabricating a nanostructure on a flat surface such as a wafer.

“When we first made the Campanile probe, we sculpted it with an ion beam like Michelangelo. It took about a month,” says Stefano Cabrini, director of the Nanofabrication Facility at the Molecular Foundry. “That pace is OK for research applications, but the lack of a mass-fabrication method has inhibited the wider use of nano-optical devices.”

That’s where fiber nanoimprinting come in. Its first step is the most time consuming: Scientists create a mold with the precise dimensions of the nano-optical device they want to print. For the Campanile probe, this means a mold of the probe’s nanoscale features, including the four sides and the light-emitting 70-nanometer-wide gap at the pyramid’s top.

“This mold can take a few weeks to make, but we only need one, and then we can start printing,” explains Keiko Munechika of aBeam Technologies, which partnered with the Molecular Foundry to develop the fabrication process as part of the Department of Energy’s Small Business Technology Transfer program. Several other aBeam Technologies scientists contributed to this work, including Alexander Koshelev. The company is now commercializing various fiber-based nano-optical devices.

After the mold is created, it’s off to the races. The mold is filled with a special resin and then positioned atop an optical fiber. Infrared light is sent through the fiber, which enables the scientists to measure the exact alignment of the mold in relation to the fiber. If everything checks out, UV light is sent through the fiber, which hardens the resin. A final metallization step coats the sides of the probe with gold layers. The result is a quickly printed—not meticulously sculpted—Campanile probe.

“We can do this over and over and make a probe every few minutes,” says Munechika.

There are several advantages to the faster production pace. Campanile probes are fragile, and now it’s possible to give researchers a batch in case one breaks. Plus it’s easier to optimize nano-optical devices if scientists are able to provide feedback on a device’s performance, and an improved batch is quickly developed for further testing. The fabrication technique can also be applied to any nano-optical device, and has so far been used to create Fresnel lenses and beam splitters in addition to the Campanile probe.

“Instead of sculpting a one-of-a-kind device like Michelangelo, we now take the original masterpiece, make an imprint of it, and create many replicas in quick succession,” says Cabrini. “It’s a new capability the Molecular Foundry can provide to the science community.”

The Molecular Foundry is a DOE Office of Science User Facility. The research was primarily supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.