Scientists develop the world's thinnest balloon

Researchers in New York are reporting development of the world's thinnest balloon, made of a single layer of graphite just one atom thick. This so-called graphene sealed microchamber is impermeable to even the tiniest airborne molecules, including helium. It has a range of applications in sensors, filters, and imaging of materials at the atomic level, they say in a study scheduled for the August 13 issue of ACS' Nano Letters.

Berkeley -- Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have for the first time engineered 3-D materials that can reverse the natural direction of visible and near-infrared light, a development that could help form the basis for higher resolution optical imaging, nanocircuits for high-powered computers, and, to the delight of science-fiction and fantasy buffs, cloaking devices that could render objects invisible to the human eye.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Researchers have devised an inexpensive way to produce plastic sheets containing billions of nanoantennas that collect heat energy generated by the sun and other sources. The technology, developed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory, is the first step toward a solar energy collector that could be mass-produced on flexible materials.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers successfully demonstrated a prototype approach to maintain two-way communications with first responders as they make their way in building fires, and mine and tunnel collapses. These and other disasters in enclosed environments are often rife with radio dead spots and conditions that can severely weaken signals.

SALT LAKE CITY – A University of Utah study is shedding light on an important, unsolved physics problem: the relationship between chaos theory – which is based on 300-year-old Newtonian physics – and the modern theory of quantum mechanics.

The study demonstrated a fundamental new property – what appears to be chaotic behavior in a quantum system – in the magnetic "spins" within the nuclei or centers of atoms of frozen xenon, which normally is a gas and has been tested for making medical images of lungs.

By examining natural variation among cottonwood trees in nature, scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory hope to develop a strategy to maximize production of ethanol from cellulosic biomass.

Through a process known as association mapping, scientists will attempt to identify differences in cell wall chemistry among trees growing in natural populations with the goal being to determine which trees are the best candidates for biofuel.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have created the world's first all-integrated sensor circuit based on nanowire arrays, combining light sensors and electronics made of different crystalline materials. Their method can be used to reproduce numerous such devices with high uniformity.

War casualties are typically kept behind tightly closed doors, but one company keeps the mangled pieces of its first casualty on display. This is no ordinary soldier, though—it is Packbot from iRobot Corporation.

BERKELEY, CA – The pinhole camera, a technique known since ancient times, has inspired a futuristic technology for lensless, three-dimensional imaging. Working at both the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and at FLASH, the free-electron laser in Hamburg, Germany, an international group of scientists has produced two of the brightest, sharpest x-ray holograms of microscopic objects ever made, thousands of times more efficiently than previous x-ray-holographic methods.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- In a revolutionary leap that could transform solar power from a marginal, boutique alternative into a mainstream energy source, MIT researchers have overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn't shine.

Until now, solar power has been a daytime-only energy source, because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. With today's announcement, MIT researchers have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.