TRN's Top Picks: Technology Research Advances of 2004 ~ NanoThoughts 1.0

Thursday, December 30, 2004

TRN's Top Picks: Technology Research Advances of 2004

From slashdot, this article on the top science and engineering advances of 2004:
TRN's Top Picks: Technology Research Advances of 2004:
Lots of cool stuff, including:

The burgeoning field of nanotechnology -- the quest to build devices and materials from infinitesimal metal and semiconductor particles and even individual molecules -- continued its fast pace this year.

A pair of significant developments each had researchers taking DNA for a walk. Scientists at Duke University and the University of Oxford in England put together a series of DNA stations that can automatically pass a DNA fragment from one to the next. California Institute of Technology researchers improved the gate of a bipedal DNA walker originally designed by researchers at New York University from shuffling, with one leg always trailing the other, to leg-over-leg walking.

Nanotubes continue to be a promising nanotech building block. Researchers from the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) found a relatively simple way to manufacture tall, dense, vertically-aligned stands of pure nanotubes. Nanotubes produced using the method are orderly and pure enough for use in medical implants as well as electronics. "

The Energy stories are really intriguing and I hadn't heard of half of these.

Energy research ranges from finding ways to power microscopic machines to developing renewable energy sources for global consumption. Many research teams are working on solar and hydrogen energy systems, and there have been several significant developments this year.
Scientists from Toin University of Yokohama in Japan built a single, compact device that converts solar energy to electricity and also stores the electricity. This is an improvement from today's combination of solar energy devices that harvest the energy from light and batteries that store the energy. The device is also relatively efficient at harvesting ambient light; it could eventually allow people to recharge cell phones, for instance, using indoor light.
Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers found a way to double a solar cell's potential energy production by using the energy of a single photon to move two electrons rather than just one, and researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of California, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineered a single material that is capable of capturing more than 50 percent of the sun's energy from across the solar spectrum.
On the fuel cell front, University of Wisconsin at Madison researchers found a way to use carbon monoxide, a fuel cell waste product that ordinarily degrades cells, to produce more energy. Researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Patras in Greece devised a way to extract hydrogen directly from ethanol, which is produced by converting biomass like cornstarch to sugar, then fermenting the sugar.

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