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News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Science funding is intended to support the production of new knowledge and ideas that develop new technologies, improve medical treatments and strengthen the economy. The idea goes back to influential engineer Vannevar Bush, who headed the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II. And the evidence is that science funding does have these effects. But, at a practical level, science funding from all sources supports research projects, the people who work on them and the businesses that provide the equipment, materials and services used to carry them out. Given current proposed cuts to federal science funding—the Trump administration has, for instance, proposed a 20 percent reduction for the National Institutes of Health—it’s important to know what types of people and businesses are touched by sponsored research projects. Most existing research into the effects of science funding tries to quantify research artifacts, such as publications and patents, rather than tracking people. I’ve helped start an emerging project called the UMETRICS initiative, which takes a novel approach to thinking about innovation and science. UMETRICS identifies people employed on scientific projects at universities and the purchases made to carry out those projects. It then tracks people to the businesses and universities that hire them, and purchases to the vendors from which they come. Since UMETRICS relies entirely on administrative data provided by member universities (now around 50), the U.S. Census Bureau and other naturally occurring data, there are no reporting errors, sample coverage concerns or burden for people. It covers essentially all federal research funding, as well as some funding from private foundations. Our administrative data allow us to identify everyone employed on research projects, not just those who appear as authors on research articles. This is valuable because we’re able to identify students and staff, who may be less likely to author papers than faculty and postdocs but who turn out to be an important part of the workforce on funded research projects. We compared the distribution of people supported on research projects at some of the largest National Science Foundation (NSF) Divisions and National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutes and Centers. Together, the NSF and NIH support close to 70 percent of federally funded academic R&D. The striking thing is that the majority of people employed on research projects are somewhere in the training pipeline, whether undergraduates; graduate students, who are particularly prevalent at NSF; or postdocs, who are more prevalent at NIH. Staff frequently constitute 40 percent of the NIH-supported workforce, but faculty are a relatively small portion of the workforce at all NIH Institutes and NSF Divisions. Based on these results, it seems likely that changes in federal research funding will have substantial effects on trainees, which would naturally have implications for the future STEM workforce. Given the importance of trainees in the research workforce, we have focused much of our research on graduate students. We mapped the universities in our sample and the share of graduate students in each state one year after graduation. Our data show many grad students contribute to local economies—12.7 percent are within 50 miles of the universities where they trained. For six of our eight universities, more people stayed in state than went to any other single state. At the same time, graduate students fan out nationally, with both coasts, Illinois and Texas common destinations. The doctoral recipients in our sample are also more likely to take jobs at establishments that are engines of the knowledge economy. They are heavily overrepresented in industries such as electronics, semiconductors, computers and pharmaceuticals, and underrepresented in industries such as restaurants, grocery stores and hotels. Doctoral degree recipients are almost four times as likely as the average U.S. worker to be employed by an R&D-performing firm (44 percent versus 12.6 percent). And, the establishments where the doctoral degree recipients work have a median payroll of more tha $90,000 per worker compared to $33,000 for all U.S. establishments and $61,000 for establishments owned by R&D performing firms. Taken as a whole, our research indicates that the workers trained on research projects play a critical role in the industries and at companies critical for our new, knowledge economy. Another way in which sponsored research projects affect the economy in the short run is through purchases of equipment, supplies and services. Still-unpublished work studying the vendors who sell to sponsored research projects at universities shows that many of the firms are frequently high-tech and often local. Moreover, firms that are vendors to university research projects are more likely to open new establishments near their campus customers. Thus, there is some evidence that research projects directly stimulate local economies. So while the goal of sponsored research projects is to develop new knowledge, they also support the training of highly skilled STEM workers and support activity at businesses.


News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Science funding is intended to support the production of new knowledge and ideas that develop new technologies, improve medical treatments and strengthen the economy. The idea goes back to influential engineer Vannevar Bush, who headed the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II. And the evidence is that science funding does have these effects. But, at a practical level, science funding from all sources supports research projects, the people who work on them and the businesses that provide the equipment, materials and services used to carry them out. Given current proposed cuts to federal science funding—the Trump administration has, for instance, proposed a 20 percent reduction for the National Institutes of Health—it’s important to know what types of people and businesses are touched by sponsored research projects. Most existing research into the effects of science funding tries to quantify research artifacts, such as publications and patents, rather than tracking people. I’ve helped start an emerging project called the UMETRICS initiative, which takes a novel approach to thinking about innovation and science. UMETRICS identifies people employed on scientific projects at universities and the purchases made to carry out those projects. It then tracks people to the businesses and universities that hire them, and purchases to the vendors from which they come. Since UMETRICS relies entirely on administrative data provided by member universities (now around 50), the U.S. Census Bureau and other naturally occurring data, there are no reporting errors, sample coverage concerns or burden for people. It covers essentially all federal research funding, as well as some funding from private foundations. Our administrative data allow us to identify everyone employed on research projects, not just those who appear as authors on research articles. This is valuable because we’re able to identify students and staff, who may be less likely to author papers than faculty and postdocs but who turn out to be an important part of the workforce on funded research projects. We compared the distribution of people supported on research projects at some of the largest National Science Foundation (NSF) Divisions and National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutes and Centers. Together, the NSF and NIH support close to 70 percent of federally funded academic R&D. The striking thing is that the majority of people employed on research projects are somewhere in the training pipeline, whether undergraduates; graduate students, who are particularly prevalent at NSF; or postdocs, who are more prevalent at NIH. Staff frequently constitute 40 percent of the NIH-supported workforce, but faculty are a relatively small portion of the workforce at all NIH Institutes and NSF Divisions. Based on these results, it seems likely that changes in federal research funding will have substantial effects on trainees, which would naturally have implications for the future STEM workforce. Given the importance of trainees in the research workforce, we have focused much of our research on graduate students. We mapped the universities in our sample and the share of graduate students in each state one year after graduation. Our data show many grad students contribute to local economies—12.7 percent are within 50 miles of the universities where they trained. For six of our eight universities, more people stayed in state than went to any other single state. At the same time, graduate students fan out nationally, with both coasts, Illinois and Texas common destinations. The doctoral recipients in our sample are also more likely to take jobs at establishments that are engines of the knowledge economy. They are heavily overrepresented in industries such as electronics, semiconductors, computers and pharmaceuticals, and underrepresented in industries such as restaurants, grocery stores and hotels. Doctoral degree recipients are almost four times as likely as the average U.S. worker to be employed by an R&D-performing firm (44 percent versus 12.6 percent). And, the establishments where the doctoral degree recipients work have a median payroll of more tha $90,000 per worker compared to $33,000 for all U.S. establishments and $61,000 for establishments owned by R&D performing firms. Taken as a whole, our research indicates that the workers trained on research projects play a critical role in the industries and at companies critical for our new, knowledge economy. Another way in which sponsored research projects affect the economy in the short run is through purchases of equipment, supplies and services. Still-unpublished work studying the vendors who sell to sponsored research projects at universities shows that many of the firms are frequently high-tech and often local. Moreover, firms that are vendors to university research projects are more likely to open new establishments near their campus customers. Thus, there is some evidence that research projects directly stimulate local economies. So while the goal of sponsored research projects is to develop new knowledge, they also support the training of highly skilled STEM workers and support activity at businesses.


News Article | May 18, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

HOUSTON - (May 18, 2017) - Rice University scientists have created a rechargeable lithium metal battery with three times the capacity of commercial lithium-ion batteries by resolving something that has long stumped researchers: the dendrite problem. The Rice battery stores lithium in a unique anode, a seamless hybrid of graphene and carbon nanotubes. The material first created at Rice in 2012 is essentially a three-dimensional carbon surface that provides abundant area for lithium to inhabit. The anode itself approaches the theoretical maximum for storage of lithium metal while resisting the formation of damaging dendrites or "mossy" deposits. Dendrites have bedeviled attempts to replace lithium-ion with advanced lithium metal batteries that last longer and charge faster. Dendrites are lithium deposits that grow into the battery's electrolyte. If they bridge the anode and cathode and create a short circuit, the battery may fail, catch fire or even explode. Rice researchers led by chemist James Tour found that when the new batteries are charged, lithium metal evenly coats the highly conductive carbon hybrid in which nanotubes are covalently bonded to the graphene surface. As reported in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano, the hybrid replaces graphite anodes in common lithium-ion batteries that trade capacity for safety. "Lithium-ion batteries have changed the world, no doubt," Tour said, "but they're about as good as they're going to get. Your cellphone's battery won't last any longer until new technology comes along." He said the new anode's nanotube forest, with its low density and high surface area, has plenty of space for lithium particles to slip in and out as the battery charges and discharges. The lithium is evenly distributed, spreading out the current carried by ions in the electrolyte and suppressing the growth of dendrites. Though the prototype battery's capacity is limited by the cathode, the anode material achieves a lithium storage capacity of 3,351 milliamp hours per gram, close to the theoretical maximum and 10 times that of lithium-ion batteries, Tour said. Because of the low density of the nanotube carpet, the ability of lithium to coat all the way down to the substrate ensures maximum use of the available volume, he said. The researchers had their "Aha!" moment in 2014, when co-lead author Abdul-Rahman Raji, a former graduate student in Tour's lab and now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge, began experimenting with lithium metal and the graphene-nanotube hybrid. "I reasoned that lithium metal must have plated on the electrode while analyzing results of experiments carried out to store lithium ions in the anode material combined with a lithium cobalt oxide cathode in a full cell," Raji said. "We were excited because the voltage profile of the full cell was very flat. At that moment, we knew we had found something special." Within a week, Raji and co-lead author Rodrigo Villegas Salvatierra, a Rice postdoctoral researcher, deposited lithium metal into a standalone hybrid anode so they could have a closer look with a microscope. "We were stunned to find no dendrites grown, and the rest is history," Raji said. To test the anode, the Rice lab built full batteries with sulfur-based cathodes that retained 80 percent capacity after more than 500 charge-discharge cycles, approximately two years' worth of use for a normal cellphone user, Tour said. Electron microscope images of the anodes after testing showed no sign of dendrites or the moss-like structures that have been observed on flat anodes. To the naked eye, anodes within the quarter-sized batteries were dark when empty of lithium metal and silver when full, the researchers reported. "Many people doing battery research only make the anode, because to do the whole package is much harder," Tour said. "We had to develop a commensurate cathode technology based upon sulfur to accommodate these ultrahigh-capacity lithium anodes in first-generation systems. We're producing these full batteries, cathode plus anode, on a pilot scale, and they're being tested." Co-authors of the paper are Rice postdoctoral researcher Nam Dong Kim, visiting researchers Xiujun Fan and Junwei Sha and graduate students Yilun Li and Gladys López-Silva. Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative supported the research. This news release can be found online at http://news. A forest of carbon nanotubes grown on and covalently attached to a graphene substrate makes an excellent anode for high-capacity lithium metal batteries, according to Rice University researchers. The recyclable batteries show promise to safely provide far more capacity than present-day lithium ion batteries. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University) Lithium metal coats the hybrid graphene and carbon nanotube anode in a battery created at Rice University. The lithium metal coats the three-dimensional structure of the anode and avoids forming dendrites. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University) An electron microscope image shows a carbon nanotube evenly coated with lithium metal. Tests on the graphene-carbon nanotube anode created at Rice University show it resists the formation of lithium dendrites that can damage batteries. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University) A graphic shows carbon nanotubes covalently bonded to a graphene substrate. The material created at Rice University is being tested as an anode for high-capacity lithium metal batteries. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University) Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


Abstract: Rice University scientists have created a rechargeable lithium metal battery with three times the capacity of commercial lithium-ion batteries by resolving something that has long stumped researchers: the dendrite problem. The Rice battery stores lithium in a unique anode, a seamless hybrid of graphene and carbon nanotubes. The material first created at Rice in 2012 is essentially a three-dimensional carbon surface that provides abundant area for lithium to inhabit. The anode itself approaches the theoretical maximum for storage of lithium metal while resisting the formation of damaging dendrites or "mossy" deposits. Dendrites have bedeviled attempts to replace lithium-ion with advanced lithium metal batteries that last longer and charge faster. Dendrites are lithium deposits that grow into the battery's electrolyte. If they bridge the anode and cathode and create a short circuit, the battery may fail, catch fire or even explode. Rice researchers led by chemist James Tour found that when the new batteries are charged, lithium metal evenly coats the highly conductive carbon hybrid in which nanotubes are covalently bonded to the graphene surface. As reported in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano, the hybrid replaces graphite anodes in common lithium-ion batteries that trade capacity for safety. "Lithium-ion batteries have changed the world, no doubt," Tour said, "but they're about as good as they're going to get. Your cellphone's battery won't last any longer until new technology comes along." He said the new anode's nanotube forest, with its low density and high surface area, has plenty of space for lithium particles to slip in and out as the battery charges and discharges. The lithium is evenly distributed, spreading out the current carried by ions in the electrolyte and suppressing the growth of dendrites. Though the prototype battery's capacity is limited by the cathode, the anode material achieves a lithium storage capacity of 3,351 milliamp hours per gram, close to the theoretical maximum and 10 times that of lithium-ion batteries, Tour said. Because of the low density of the nanotube carpet, the ability of lithium to coat all the way down to the substrate ensures maximum use of the available volume, he said. The researchers had their "Aha!" moment in 2014, when co-lead author Abdul-Rahman Raji, a former graduate student in Tour's lab and now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge, began experimenting with lithium metal and the graphene-nanotube hybrid. "I reasoned that lithium metal must have plated on the electrode while analyzing results of experiments carried out to store lithium ions in the anode material combined with a lithium cobalt oxide cathode in a full cell," Raji said. "We were excited because the voltage profile of the full cell was very flat. At that moment, we knew we had found something special." Within a week, Raji and co-lead author Rodrigo Villegas Salvatierra, a Rice postdoctoral researcher, deposited lithium metal into a standalone hybrid anode so they could have a closer look with a microscope. "We were stunned to find no dendrites grown, and the rest is history," Raji said. To test the anode, the Rice lab built full batteries with sulfur-based cathodes that retained 80 percent capacity after more than 500 charge-discharge cycles, approximately two years' worth of use for a normal cellphone user, Tour said. Electron microscope images of the anodes after testing showed no sign of dendrites or the moss-like structures that have been observed on flat anodes. To the naked eye, anodes within the quarter-sized batteries were dark when empty of lithium metal and silver when full, the researchers reported. "Many people doing battery research only make the anode, because to do the whole package is much harder," Tour said. "We had to develop a commensurate cathode technology based upon sulfur to accommodate these ultrahigh-capacity lithium anodes in first-generation systems. We're producing these full batteries, cathode plus anode, on a pilot scale, and they're being tested." ### Co-authors of the paper are Rice postdoctoral researcher Nam Dong Kim, visiting researchers Xiujun Fan and Junwei Sha and graduate students Yilun Li and Gladys López-Silva. Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative supported the research. About Rice University Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview . Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews For more information, please click If you have a comment, please us. Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.


Home > Press > Gas gives laser-induced graphene super properties: Rice University study shows inexpensive material can be superhydrophilic or superhydrophobic Abstract: Rice University scientists who invented laser-induced graphene (LIG) for applications like supercapacitors have now figured out a way to make the spongy graphene either superhydrophobic or superhydrophilic. And it's a gas. Water rolls off a superhydrophilic laser-induced graphene pattern placed inside a superhydrophobic LIG frame. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University) A water droplet bounces on the surface of laser-induced graphene with a sulfur and fluorine gas in the chamber. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University) Until recently, the Rice lab of James Tour made LIG only in open air, using a laser to burn part of the way through a flexible polyimide sheet to get interconnected flakes of graphene. But putting the polymer in a closed environment with various gases changed the product's properties. Forming LIG in argon or hydrogen makes it superhydrophobic, or water-avoiding, a property highly valued for separating water from oil or de-icing surfaces. Forming it in oxygen or air makes it superhydrophilic, or water-attracting, and that makes it highly soluble. The research at Rice and at Ben-Gurion University in Israel is the subject of a paper in Advanced Materials. "Labs could make graphene either hydrophobic or hydrophilic before, but it involved multiple steps of either wet-chemical or chemical vapor deposition processes," Tour said. "We're doing this in one step with relatively cheap materials in a homemade atmosphere chamber." The labs got a bonus when they discovered that fabricating LIG in oxygen increased the number of defects – 5- and 7-atom rings – in the graphene flakes, improving its capacitance and its performance when used as an electrode material for microsupercapacitors. Changes in the chemical content of the gas and even changes in the direction of the laser raster pattern altered the material, leading the researchers to believe LIG's hydrophobic or –philic properties could be tuned. They also discovered when they scraped graphene off of a hydrophilic sheet of polymer and turned it into a film, the result was hydrophobic instead. "That leads us to believe the surface orientation of LIG's flakes have a lot to do with how it reacts with water," Tour said. "If the edges are more exposed, it appears to be hydrophilic; if the basal planes are more exposed, their hydrophobic properties take over." What makes a material "super" in either direction is the angle at which it encounters water. A material with a contact angle of 0 degrees is considered superhydrophilic. In this case, water would lay on the material in a puddle. If the angle is 150 degrees or more, that's superhydrophobic; the angle is determined by how much the water beads. (An angle of 180 degrees would be a sphere sitting perfectly on top of LIG.) The discovery that surface type and chemistry affect LIG should also allow some leeway in adjusting the material's properties, Tour said. In fact, when they used a sulfur/fluorine gas to make it, they raised LIG's superhydrophobicity to 160 degrees. Yilun Li, a graduate student at Rice, is lead author of the paper. Co-authors are Rice graduate students Duy Xuan Luong and Jibo Zhang, undergraduate Yash Tarkunde, research scientist Carter Kittrell and former postdoctoral researcher Yongsung Ji; and graduate student Franklin Sargunaraj and co-principal investigator Christopher Arnusch, a lecturer at the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research and its Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative and the Vietnam Education Foundation supported the research. About Rice University Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview . Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews For more information, please click If you have a comment, please us. Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.


News Article | May 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

HOUSTON - (May 15, 2017) - Rice University scientists who invented laser-induced graphene (LIG) for applications like supercapacitors have now figured out a way to make the spongy graphene either superhydrophobic or superhydrophilic. Until recently, the Rice lab of James Tour made LIG only in open air, using a laser to burn part of the way through a flexible polyimide sheet to get interconnected flakes of graphene. But putting the polymer in a closed environment with various gases changed the product's properties. Forming LIG in argon or hydrogen makes it superhydrophobic, or water-avoiding, a property highly valued for separating water from oil or de-icing surfaces. Forming it in oxygen or air makes it superhydrophilic, or water-attracting, and that makes it highly soluble. The research at Rice and at Ben-Gurion University in Israel is the subject of a paper in Advanced Materials. "Labs could make graphene either hydrophobic or hydrophilic before, but it involved multiple steps of either wet-chemical or chemical vapor deposition processes," Tour said. "We're doing this in one step with relatively cheap materials in a homemade atmosphere chamber." The labs got a bonus when they discovered that fabricating LIG in oxygen increased the number of defects -- 5- and 7-atom rings -- in the graphene flakes, improving its capacitance and its performance when used as an electrode material for microsupercapacitors. Changes in the chemical content of the gas and even changes in the direction of the laser raster pattern altered the material, leading the researchers to believe LIG's hydrophobic or -philic properties could be tuned. They also discovered when they scraped graphene off of a hydrophilic sheet of polymer and turned it into a film, the result was hydrophobic instead. "That leads us to believe the surface orientation of LIG's flakes have a lot to do with how it reacts with water," Tour said. "If the edges are more exposed, it appears to be hydrophilic; if the basal planes are more exposed, their hydrophobic properties take over." What makes a material "super" in either direction is the angle at which it encounters water. A material with a contact angle of 0 degrees is considered superhydrophilic. In this case, water would lay on the material in a puddle. If the angle is 150 degrees or more, that's superhydrophobic; the angle is determined by how much the water beads. (An angle of 180 degrees would be a sphere sitting perfectly on top of LIG.) The discovery that surface type and chemistry affect LIG should also allow some leeway in adjusting the material's properties, Tour said. In fact, when they used a sulfur/fluorine gas to make it, they raised LIG's superhydrophobicity to 160 degrees. Yilun Li, a graduate student at Rice, is lead author of the paper. Co-authors are Rice graduate students Duy Xuan Luong and Jibo Zhang, undergraduate Yash Tarkunde, research scientist Carter Kittrell and former postdoctoral researcher Yongsung Ji; and graduate student Franklin Sargunaraj and co-principal investigator Christopher Arnusch, a lecturer at the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research and its Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative and the Vietnam Education Foundation supported the research. This news release can be found online at http://news. A water droplet bounces on the surface of laser-induced graphene with a sulfur and fluorine gas in the chamber. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University) Laser-induced graphene created in the presence of argon gas is superhydrophobic, meaning it avoids water. The process developed at Rice University makes materials that can be superhydrophilic or superhydrophobic from inexpensive materials and in one step. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University) Superhydrophobic (water-avoiding) laser-induced graphene created in the presence of argon gas could be useful for de-icing applications or separating water and oil. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University) A custom chamber built by researchers at Rice University allowed them to refine their process for creating laser-induced graphene. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University) A custom-built chamber allows Rice University researchers to grow laser-induced graphene in various environments. The laser is fired at polymer through the zinc-selenium window. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University) Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A chunk of conductive graphene foam reinforced by carbon nanotubes can support more than 3,000 times its own weight and easily bounce back to its original height, according to Rice University scientists. Better yet, it can be made in just about any shape and size, they reported, demonstrating a screw-shaped piece of the highly conductive foam. The Rice lab of chemist James Tour tested its new "rebar graphene" as a highly porous, conductive electrode in lithium ion capacitors and found it to be mechanically and chemically stable. The research appears in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Carbon in the form of atom-thin graphene is among the strongest materials known and is highly conductive; multiwalled carbon nanotubes are widely used as conductive reinforcements in metals, polymers and carbon matrix composites. The Tour lab had already used nanotubes to reinforce two-dimensional sheets of graphene. Extending the concept to macroscale materials made sense, Tour said. "We developed graphene foam, but it wasn't tough enough for the kind of applications we had in mind, so using carbon nanotubes to reinforce it was a natural next step," Tour said. The three-dimensional structures were created from a powdered nickel catalyst, surfactant-wrapped multiwall nanotubes and sugar as a carbon source. The materials were mixed and the water evaporated; the resulting pellets were pressed into a steel die and then heated in a chemical vapor deposition furnace, which turned the available carbon into graphene. After further processing to remove remnants of nickel, the result was an all-carbon foam in the shape of the die, in this case a screw. Tour said the method will be easy to scale up. Electron microscope images of the foam showed partially unzipped outer layers of the nanotubes had bonded to the graphene, which accounted for its strength and resilience. Graphene foam produced without the rebar could support only about 150 times its own weight while retaining the ability to rapidly return to its full height. But rebar graphene irreversibly deformed by about 25 percent when loaded with more than 8,500 times its weight. Junwei Sha, a visiting graduate student at Rice and a graduate student at Tianjin University, China, is lead author of the paper. Co-authors from Rice are postdoctoral researchers Rodrigo Salvatierra, Pei Dong and Yongsung Ji; graduate students Yilun Li, Tuo Wang, Chenhao Zhang and Jibo Zhang; former postdoctoral researcher Seoung-Ki Lee; Pulickel Ajayan, chair of the Department of Materials Science and NanoEngineering, the Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Engineering and a professor of chemistry; and Jun Lou, a professor of materials science and nanoengineering. Naiqin Zhao, a professor at Tianjin University and a researcher at the Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemical Science and Engineering, Tianjin, is also a co-author. Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research and its Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative supported the research. This news release can be found online at http://news. A piece of rebar graphene stands up to a good soaking in a test at Rice University. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University) Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,910 undergraduates and 2,809 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl. .


News Article | February 23, 2017
Site: www.cemag.us

Beetles wear a body armor that should weigh them down — think medieval knights and turtles. In fact, those hard shells protecting delicate wings are surprisingly light, allowing even flight. Better understanding the structure and properties of beetle exoskeletons could help scientists engineer lighter, stronger materials. Such materials could, for example, reduce gas-guzzling drag in vehicles and airplanes and reduce the weight of armor, lightening the load for the 21st-century knight. But revealing exoskeleton architecture at the nanoscale has proven difficult. Nebraska's Ruiguo Yang, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering, and his colleagues found a way to analyze the fibrous nanostructure. Their findings were featured recently on the cover of Advanced Functional Materials. The lightweight exoskeleton is composed of chitin fibers just around 20 nanometers in diameter (a human hair measures approximately 75,000 nanometers in diameter) and packed and piled into layers that twist in a spiral, like a spiral staircase. The small diameter and helical twisting, known as Bouligand, make the structure difficult to analyze. Yang and his team developed a method of slicing down the spiral to reveal a surface of cross-sections of fibers at different orientations. From that viewpoint, the researchers were able to analyze the fibers' mechanical properties with the aid of an atomic force microscope. This type of microscope applies a tiny force to a test sample, deforms the sample and monitors the sample’s response. Combining the experimental procedure and theoretical analysis, the researchers were able to reveal the nanoscale architecture of the exoskeleton and the material properties of the nanofibers. They made their discoveries in the common figeater beetle, Cotinis mutabilis, a metallic green native of the western United States. But the technique can be used on other beetles and hard-shelled creatures and might also extend to artificial materials with fibrous structures, Yang says. Comparing beetles with differing demands on their exoskeletons, such as defending against predators or environmental damage, could lead to evolutionary insights as well as a better understanding of the relationship between structural features and their properties. Yang’s co-authors are Alireza Zaheri and Horacio Espinosa of Northwestern University; Wei Gao of the University of Texas at San Antonio; and Cheryl Hayashi of the University of California, Riverside. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative funded this research.


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Beetles wear a body armor that should weigh them down -- think medieval knights and turtles. In fact, those hard shells protecting delicate wings are surprisingly light, allowing even flight. Better understanding the structure and properties of beetle exoskeletons could help scientists engineer lighter, stronger materials. Such materials could, for example, reduce gas-guzzling drag in vehicles and airplanes and reduce the weight of armor, lightening the load for the 21st-century knight. But revealing exoskeleton architecture at the nanoscale has proven difficult. Nebraska's Ruiguo Yang, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering, and his colleagues found a way to analyze the fibrous nanostructure. Their findings were featured recently on the cover of Advanced Functional Materials. The lightweight exoskeleton is composed of chitin fibers just around 20 nanometers in diameter (a human hair measures approximately 75,000 nanometers in diameter) and packed and piled into layers that twist in a spiral, like a spiral staircase. The small diameter and helical twisting, known as Bouligand, make the structure difficult to analyze. Yang and his team developed a method of slicing down the spiral to reveal a surface of cross-sections of fibers at different orientations. From that viewpoint, the researchers were able to analyze the fibers' mechanical properties with the aid of an atomic force microscope. This type of microscope applies a tiny force to a test sample, deforms the sample and monitors the sample's response. Combining the experimental procedure and theoretical analysis, the researchers were able to reveal the nanoscale architecture of the exoskeleton and the material properties of the nanofibers. They made their discoveries in the common figeater beetle, Cotinis mutabilis, a metallic green native of the western United States. But the technique can be used on other beetles and hard-shelled creatures and might also extend to artificial materials with fibrous structures, Yang said. Comparing beetles with differing demands on their exoskeletons, such as defending against predators or environmental damage, could lead to evolutionary insights as well as a better understanding of the relationship between structural features and their properties. Yang's co-authors are Alireza Zaheri and Horacio Espinosa of Northwestern University; Wei Gao of the University of Texas at San Antonio; and Cheryl Hayashi of the University of California, Riverside. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research's Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative funded this research.


Home > Press > Graphene foam gets big and tough: Rice University's nanotube-reinforced material can be shaped, is highly conductive Abstract: A chunk of conductive graphene foam reinforced by carbon nanotubes can support more than 3,000 times its own weight and easily bounce back to its original height, according to Rice University scientists. Better yet, it can be made in just about any shape and size, they reported, demonstrating a screw-shaped piece of the highly conductive foam. The Rice lab of chemist James Tour tested its new "rebar graphene" as a highly porous, conductive electrode in lithium ion capacitors and found it to be mechanically and chemically stable. The research appears in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Carbon in the form of atom-thin graphene is among the strongest materials known and is highly conductive; multiwalled carbon nanotubes are widely used as conductive reinforcements in metals, polymers and carbon matrix composites. The Tour lab had already used nanotubes to reinforce two-dimensional sheets of graphene. Extending the concept to macroscale materials made sense, Tour said. "We developed graphene foam, but it wasn't tough enough for the kind of applications we had in mind, so using carbon nanotubes to reinforce it was a natural next step," Tour said. The three-dimensional structures were created from a powdered nickel catalyst, surfactant-wrapped multiwall nanotubes and sugar as a carbon source. The materials were mixed and the water evaporated; the resulting pellets were pressed into a steel die and then heated in a chemical vapor deposition furnace, which turned the available carbon into graphene. After further processing to remove remnants of nickel, the result was an all-carbon foam in the shape of the die, in this case a screw. Tour said the method will be easy to scale up. Electron microscope images of the foam showed partially unzipped outer layers of the nanotubes had bonded to the graphene, which accounted for its strength and resilience. Graphene foam produced without the rebar could support only about 150 times its own weight while retaining the ability to rapidly return to its full height. But rebar graphene irreversibly deformed by about 25 percent when loaded with more than 8,500 times its weight. Junwei Sha, a visiting graduate student at Rice and a graduate student at Tianjin University, China, is lead author of the paper. Co-authors from Rice are postdoctoral researchers Rodrigo Salvatierra, Pei Dong and Yongsung Ji; graduate students Yilun Li, Tuo Wang, Chenhao Zhang and Jibo Zhang; former postdoctoral researcher Seoung-Ki Lee; Pulickel Ajayan, chair of the Department of Materials Science and NanoEngineering, the Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Engineering and a professor of chemistry; and Jun Lou, a professor of materials science and nanoengineering. Naiqin Zhao, a professor at Tianjin University and a researcher at the Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemical Science and Engineering, Tianjin, is also a co-author. Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research and its Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative supported the research. About Rice University Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,910 undergraduates and 2,809 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview . Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews For more information, please click If you have a comment, please us. Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

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