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 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

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 efficient … » 12/16/11 8:00am 12/16/11 8:00am

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…

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

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 get … » 3/04/11 8:30am 3/04/11 8:30am