A "cagey" strategy to stack more hydrogen in nanoscale scaffoldings made of zinc-based boxes may yield a viable approach to storing hydrogen and, ultimately, replacing fossil fuels in future automobiles, according to new results from National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers.
Using beams of neutrons as probes, NIST scientists determined where hydrogen latches onto the lattice-like arrangement of zinc and oxygen clusters in a custom-made material known as a metal-organic framework, or MOF. Called MOF5, the particular nanoscale material studied by Taner Yildirim and Michael Hartman has four types of docking sites, including a "surprising" three-dimensional network of "nano-cages" that appears to form after other sites load up with hydrogen.
This finding, reported in Physical Review Letters,* suggests that MOF materials might be engineered to optimize both the storage of hydrogen and its release under normal vehicle operating conditions. It also suggests that MOFs might be used as templates for interlinking hydrogen nano-cages, creating materials with unusual properties due to a phenomenon known as quantum confinement. In a sense, this discovery is a bonus.
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The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
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