In case you missed it (ICYMI), here are some of the stories that made headlines in the world of cleanrooms and nanotechnology in the past week.
Researchers at San Francisco State University are looking to shed light on ultrathin materials. The researchers are observing “low dimensional materials,” which are materials just one to five atoms thick. They are also looking at a material called molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) and how it reacts when struck with highly focused laser light. They have discovered that a bit of MoS2 emits less light at its center while reflecting higher-energy light back at its edges. This could help future researchers manipulate the material better, perhaps by controlling the color that is emitted off the edge.
Neutrinos — tiny particles with almost no mass — have been frustrating for physicists to deal with. There aren’t as many neutrinos as theory says they should be seeing, and they don’t know why. It may be because there’s a fourth kind of neutrino that hasn’t yet been detected — a “sterile” neutrino. NIST scientists have announced that their Precision Oscillation and Spectrum Experiment (PROSPECT) will begin looking for it next year. To find these new particles, or prove once and for all that they don’t exist, the PROSPECT collaboration will construct a revolutionary detector for short-range neutrino experiments, using a nuclear reactor as the neutrino source. This could also provide a new tool to monitor and safeguard nuclear reactors.
Finally, a researcher at the University of Leiden is working on a way to make flawless graphene coatings. Graphene can only be super-strong if the wire mesh of carbon atoms it’s made of are perfectly regular in form. Current production methods, however, create sheets of graphene that are made up of a patchwork of small pieces that have been grafted onto one another. The scientist developed a model of how friction occurs at atomic level. When two surfaces slide over one another, the actual contact points are only nanometers in size, just a very few atoms. The friction is at its maximum when the stiffness of the nano-protrusions is roughly average: not too soft, but also not too stiff.