Microscopic carbon probe can measure the activity of a single neuron

Scientists have used carbon nanotubes to engineer an astonishingly small electrode, pictured here, that is thin and long enough to record electrical activity within individual neurons. » 6/24/13 9:40am 6/24/13 9:40am

This is a picture of the lightest substance on Earth

Scientists have just unveiled the lightest human-made substance on Earth. How light are we talking? Let's put it this way: it's less dense than helium. » 3/28/13 12:07pm 3/28/13 12:07pm

Harvard team makes Legos out of DNA

A team of researchers from Harvard's Wyss Institute have created self-assembling 3D nanobricks out of DNA — essentially inventing a nanoscale version of Lego — that can be used to build thousands of different objects. » 12/07/12 8:40am 12/07/12 8:40am

This is Aerographite, the lightest material ever created

Last November, we told you about a metallic microlattice that was light enough to rest on the seed heads of a dandelion. At the time, it had just supplanted NASA's aerogel as the lightest material on Earth by a mere tenth of a milligram per cubic centimeter (the former has a density of just .9 mg/cm3; the latter an… » 7/13/12 5:30pm 7/13/12 5:30pm

Thomas Edison's car battery is back, and it's better than ever

In 1901, Thomas Edison developed the recharcheable nickel-iron battery, a technology he hoped to see implemented in electric cars. But a slow rate of energy output and slower charging time saw it superseded by lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries in standard and electric cars alike. » 6/28/12 9:10am 6/28/12 9:10am

Why would a blind, subterranean mole need shiny fur?

When animals have shiny feathers or fur, it's usually for some sort of visual display or communication. But what about fauna that lives underground? » 1/27/12 7:50am 1/27/12 7:50am

Artificial Photosynthesis: Twice as Efficient as the Real Thing

The artificial leaf is poised to be one of the next big breakthroughs in energy. If we can learn to mimic the biological mechanism by which plants convert solar energy into hydrogen, the sky is the limit. Millions of years of evolution have already proved the worth of photosynthesis, even if it's not all that… » 12/16/11 8:00am 12/16/11 8:00am

Breakthrough technique could give us molecule-thick circuit boards


Graphene is incredibly cool stuff: a sheet of interlocking carbon atoms, only one atom thick. It's an extremely interesting material, and a newly pioneered technique has created a way of painting stripes on the graphene sheets to change its functionality. » 12/01/11 9:37am 12/01/11 9:37am

Watch ultra-light metal in action

Yesterday we told you about a new nanomaterial so lightweight that it can rest on the seed heads of a dandelion. Now you can watch this ultra-light metallic microlattice in action. » 11/18/11 12:11pm 11/18/11 12:11pm

Breakthrough: This metal is almost as light as air

Ultra-lightweight materials are an incredibly cool area of materials science, bringing us crazy substances like aerogel. And now, for the first time, scientists have produced a metal that's so light it can balance on the fluff of a dandelion. Here's why this material is revolutionary — and how it's made. » 11/17/11 12:59pm 11/17/11 12:59pm

How carnivorous plants could give us self-cleaning, self-repairing walls

There's a long and storied tradition of scientists getting fantastic ideas from nature, as there are few finer testing labs than the requirements of natural selection. The newest breakthrough in materials science based on a plant is Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces — or SLIPS. And it could one day give us… » 9/23/11 12:08pm 9/23/11 12:08pm

Carbon nanotubes could make seawater drinkable

Carbon nanotubes have been heralded as the next big thing in nanomaterials thanks to their incredible abilities (though there are some reservations). Now it seems that they could also help get us more clean drinking water. » 6/03/11 7:30am 6/03/11 7:30am

New nanomaterial could detect, disarm bombs, save our airport dignity

A newly-discovered nanomaterial could provide a fast and easy way to detect and disarm explosives, and finally get the TSA out of our pants. The material is a compound of molybdenum that reacts with peroxide-based explosives, changing color from a deep blue to a pale yellow. A swatch or sensor of the stuff could be… » 4/01/11 2:00pm 4/01/11 2:00pm

Making nanomaterials just got a lot easier

Graphene is pretty cool stuff. It's the foundation of a lot of nanomaterials, and when it's only a single atom thick, it can stretch eternally in two dimensions. When it's more than one atom thick it behaves very differently, becoming graphite (which you often find in pencils). We already know a pretty easy way to … » 3/04/11 8:30am 3/04/11 8:30am