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Archive for the ‘Featured Highlights’ Category

Advance in sample environment allows simultaneous measurement of electronic properties, microstructure, and rheology in complex fluids

A team of researchers at the NCNR and University of Delaware have developed a Dielectric RheoSANS environment to simultaneously measure the electric, mechanical, and microstructural properties of complex fluids.   Their first application of the technique was to study carbon black slurries as they move through an electrochemical flow cell.

Carbon based nanocomposites have been proposed as electrically percolating  semi-solid flow battery electrodes.  For such an application, electrical conductivity must be maintained while the electrode is continuously pumped through an electrochemical flow cell. Under these conditions, it is highly desirable to maximize the conductivity of these suspensions while reducing their viscosity in order to minimize pumping losses.  To understand the link between these properties, a new tool has been developed at the NIST Center for Neutron Research, which allows measurement of the electrical, mechanical and microstructural response of carbon particles under arbitrarily complex deformations.

More information can be found in the NCNR 2016 annual report, as well as in a recently published article.

Neutrons zero in on the elusive magnetic Majorana fermion

From Oak Ridge National Laboratory:

Neutron scattering has revealed in unprecedented detail new insights into the exotic magnetic behavior of a material that, with a fuller understanding, could pave the way for quantum calculations far beyond the limits of the ones and zeros of a computer’s binary code.

A research team led by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has confirmed magnetic signatures likely related to Majorana fermions—elusive particles that could be the basis for a quantum bit, or qubit, in a two-dimensional graphene-like material, alpha-ruthenium trichloride. The results, published in the journal Science, verify and extend a 2016 Nature Materials study in which the team of researchers from ORNL, University of Tennessee, Max Planck Institute and Cambridge University first proposed this unusual behavior in the material.

Read the full story here.

NIST Collaboration Heats Up Exotic Topological Insulators

Fashion is changing in the avant-garde world of next-generation computer component materials. Traditional semiconductors like silicon are releasing their last new lines. Exotic materials called topological insulators (TIs) are on their way in. And when it comes to cool, nitrogen is the new helium.

Move Over, Lasers: Scientists Can Now Create Holograms from Neutrons, Too

For the first time, a team including scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have used neutron beams to create holograms of large solid objects, revealing details about their interiors in ways that ordinary laser light-based visual holograms cannot.

The research was a multi-institutional collaboration that included scientists from NIST and the Joint Quantum Institute, a research partnership of NIST and the University of Maryland, as well as North Carolina State University and Canada’s University of Waterloo. The work was published in Optics Express.

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Right Size + Right Chemistry = Right Stuff for Plastics Manufacturing

Plastic manufacturing is an energy-intensive process. Now, research performed in part at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has revealed a way to reduce the energy demand in one key step of plastic manufacturing by using a class of materials that can filter impurities more efficiently than the conventional manufacturing process.

The findings, published in the journal Science, show that materials called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) can effectively remove the contaminant acetylene from ethylene, the material from which much of the world’s plastic is made. The research suggests that filtering out acetylene using MOFs would produce ethylene at the high purity that industry demands while sidestepping the current need to convert acetylene to ethylene via a costly catalytic process.

Read the full story here.