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The Lead

New technique could bring quality-control tool for nanocomposites

March 23, 2015 4:10 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Layered nanocomposites containing tiny structures mixed into a polymer matrix are gaining commercial use, but their complex nature can hide defects that affect performance. Now researchers have developed a system capable of detecting such defects using a "Kelvin probe" scanning method with an atomic force microscope. The ability to look below the surface of nanocomposites represents a potential new quality-control tool for industry. 

Rare-earth innovation to improve nylon manufacturing

March 19, 2015 8:56 am | by Laura Millsaps, Ames Laboratory Public Affairs | News | Comments

The Critical Materials Institute has created a new chemical process that makes use of the widely...

Cool process to make better graphene

March 18, 2015 8:05 am | by Ker Than, Caltech | News | Comments

A new technique invented at Caltech to produce graphene at room temperature could help pave the...

High-precision radar for the steel industry

March 2, 2015 8:42 am | by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft | News | Comments

Steel is the most important material in vehicle and machinery construction. Large quantities of...

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New technique developed for making graphene competitor, molybdenum disulphide

February 20, 2015 7:59 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

Graphene is often touted as a replacement for silicon in electronic devices due to its extremely high conductivity and unbeatable thinness. But graphene isn’t the only 2-D material that could play such a role. Univ. of Pennsylvania researchers have made an advance in manufacturing one such material, molybdenum disulphide.

Novel crumpling method takes flat graphene from 2-D to 3-D

February 18, 2015 7:54 am | by Rick Kubetz, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a unique single-step process to achieve 3-D texturing of graphene and graphite. Using a commercially available thermally activated shape-memory polymer substrate, this 3-D texturing, or "crumpling," allows for increased surface area and opens the doors to expanded capabilities for electronics and biomaterials.

Silver-glass sandwich structure acts as inexpensive color filter

February 13, 2015 10:37 am | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

The engineering world just became even more colorful. Northwestern Univ. researchers have created a new technique that can transform silver into any color of the rainbow. Their simple method is a fast, low-cost alternative to color filters currently used in electronic displays and monitors.

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Improvements in transistors will make flexible plastic computers a reality

January 26, 2015 8:11 am | by National Institute for Materials Science | News | Comments

Researchers in Japan revealed that improvements should soon be expected in the manufacture of transistors that can be used, for example, to make flexible, paper-thin computer screens. The scientists reviewed the latest developments in research on photoactive organic field-effect transistors, devices that incorporate organic semiconductors, amplify weak electronic signals and either emit or receive light.

Uniform nanowire arrays for science, manufacturing

December 8, 2014 8:36 am | by Kris Bertness, NIST | News | Comments

Defect-free nanowires with diameters in the range of 100 nm hold significant promise for numerous in-demand applications. That promise can't be realized, however, unless the wires can be fabricated in large uniform arrays using methods compatible with high-volume manufacture. To date, that has not been possible for arbitrary spacings in ultra-high vacuum growth.

Chemists fabricate novel rewritable paper

December 2, 2014 12:44 pm | by Iqbal Pittalwala, Univ. of California, Riverside | News | Comments

First developed in China in about the year A.D. 150, paper has many uses, the most common being for writing and printing upon. Indeed, the development and spread of civilization owes much to paper’s use as writing material. According to some surveys, 90% of all information in businesses today is retained on paper, even though the bulk of this printed paper is discarded after just one-time use.

Researchers develop efficient method to produce nanoporous metals

November 25, 2014 10:42 am | by Kenneth Ma, LLNL | News | Comments

Nanoporous metals have a wide range of applications because of their superior qualities. They posses a high surface area for better electron transfer, which can lead to the improved performance of an electrode in an electric double capacitor or battery. Nanoporous metals offer an increased number of available sites for the adsorption of analytes, a highly desirable feature for sensors.

Collaboration points to improved nanomaterials

November 21, 2014 8:01 am | by Jim Barlow, Director of Science and Research Communications, Univ. of Oregon | News | Comments

A potential path to identify imperfections and improve the quality of nanomaterials for use in next-generation solar cells has emerged from a collaboration of Univ. of Oregon and industry researchers. To increase light-harvesting efficiency of solar cells beyond silicon's limit of about 29%, manufacturers have used layers of chemically synthesized semiconductor nanocrystals.

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Streamlining thin-film processing saves time, energy

November 19, 2014 9:41 am | by South Dakota State University Communications Center | News | Comments

Energy storage devices and computer screens may seem worlds apart, but they're not. When Assoc. Prof. Qi Hua Fan set out to make a less expensive supercapacitor for storing renewable energy, he developed a new plasma technology that will streamline the production of display screens.

“Swiss cheese” membrane with variable holes

October 31, 2014 10:01 am | News | Comments

A new membrane, developed scientists in the Netherlands, can be made more or less porous “on demand”. In this way, smart switching between “open” and “closed” is possible, which opens the way to innovative applications in biosensors, chemical analysis and catalysis.

Fraunhofer develops economical process for micro energy harvesting

October 27, 2014 9:52 am | News | Comments

The trend toward energy self-sufficient probes and ever smaller mobile electronics systems continues, and are used to monitor the status of the engines on airplanes, or for medical implants. They gather the energy they need for this from their immediate environment, such as vibrations. Fraunhofer Institute researchers have developed a process for the economical production of piezoelectric materials that supply this type of energy.

NIST offers electronics industry two ways to snoop on self-organizing molecules

October 23, 2014 12:33 pm | News | Comments

A few short years ago, the idea of a practical manufacturing process based on getting molecules to organize themselves in useful nanoscale shapes seemed far-fetched. Recent work at NIST, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and IBM Almaden Research Center suggest this capability isn’t far off, however, by demonstrating self-assembly of thin films on a polymer template that creates precise rows just 10 nm wide.

Goldilocks principle wrong for particle assembly

October 20, 2014 9:32 am | by New York Univ. | News | Comments

Microscopic particles that bind under low temperatures will melt as temperatures rise to moderate levels, but re-connect under hotter conditions, a team of New York Univ. scientists has found. Their discovery points to new ways to create "smart materials," cutting-edge materials that adapt to their environment by taking new forms, and to sharpen the detail of 3-D printing.

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Scientist invent new method for fabricating graphene nanoribbons

October 17, 2014 9:23 am | by Shaun Mason, UCLA | News | Comments

Graphene’s exotic properties can be tailored by cutting large sheets down to ribbons of specific lengths and edge configurations. But this “top-down” fabrication approach is not yet practical, because current lithographic techniques always produce defects. Now, scientists from the U.S. and Japan have discovered a new “bottom-up” self-assembly method for producing defect-free graphene nanoribbons with periodic zigzag-edge regions.

A simple and versatile way to build three-dimensional materials of the future

October 16, 2014 10:14 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Japan have developed a new yet simple technique called "diffusion driven layer-by-layer assembly" to construct graphene into porous 3-D structures for applications in devices such as batteries and supercapacitors. The new method borrowed a principle from polymer chemistry, known as interfacial complexation, to allow graphene oxide to form a stable composite layer with an oppositely charged polymer.

Droplets made to order

October 7, 2014 9:33 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new way of creating surfaces on which droplets of any desired shape can spontaneously form. They say this approach could lead to new biomedical assay devices and light-emitting diode display screens, among other applications. The new work represents the first time that scientists can control the shape of the contact area of the droplets.

Fast, cheap nanomanufacturing

October 6, 2014 9:19 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT | News | Comments

Arrays of tiny conical tips that eject ionized materials are being made at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The technology, which harnesses electrostatic forces, has a range of promising applications, such as spinning out nanofibers for use in “smart” textiles or propulsion systems for fist-sized “nanosatellites.” The latest prototype array that generates 10 times the ion current per emitter that previous arrays did.

Online resource provides free tools, simulations for composite materials

October 3, 2014 11:59 am | News | Comments

Individuals in industrial associations, educational institutions and government organizations who are interested in composites, or materials made from constituent materials with different physical or chemical properties, now have free, 24/7 access to simulation tools through an online community with offices in the Purdue Research Park.

Batteries included: A solar cell that stores its own power

October 3, 2014 9:07 am | by Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

The world’s first “solar battery”, invented by researchers at Ohio State Univ., is a battery and a solar cell combined into one hybrid device. Key to the innovation is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery, and a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode. Inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery.

Creating nanostructures using simple stamps

October 2, 2014 1:31 pm | News | Comments

Nanostructures of virtually any possible shape can now be made using a combination of techniques developed to exploit the unique properties of so-called perovskites. The group based in the Netherlands, developed a pulsed laser deposition technique to create patterns in ultra thin layers, one atomic layer at a time. The perovskites’ crystal structure is undamaged by this soft lithography technique, maintaining electrical conductivity.

Scientists improve microscopic batteries with homebuilt imaging analysis

September 29, 2014 12:26 pm | News | Comments

In a rare case of having their cake and eating it too, scientists from NIST and other institutions have developed a toolset that allows them to explore the complex interior of tiny, multi-layered batteries they devised. It provides insight into the batteries’ performance without destroying them, which results in both a useful probe for scientists and a potential power source for micromachines.

A Diamond is R&D’s “Synthetic” Best Friend

September 24, 2014 10:10 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

Diamonds aren’t just a girl’s best friend, they’re also R&D’s best friend—or at least a new acquaintance. Many laboratories and companies are embracing synthetic diamond for its elevated super properties in applications ranging from analytical instruments and biomedical sensors to electronics and lasers to water purification.

New solar cells serve free lunch

September 24, 2014 9:07 am | by Poncie Rutsch, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology | News | Comments

A common complaints about solar power is that solar panels are still too expensive. Efforts at making them more efficient or longer-lasting have been limited. A new method developed in Okinawa could solve the expense problem: A hybrid form of deposition is being used to create perovskite solar cells from a mixture of inexpensive organic and inorganic raw materials, eliminating the need for expensive crystallized silicon.

Robotic fabric could bring “active clothing”, wearable robots

September 23, 2014 2:20 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers are developing a robotic fabric that moves and contracts and is embedded with sensors, an approach that could lead to "active clothing" or a new class of "soft" robots. The robotic fabric, developed at Purdue Univ.,  is a cotton material containing sensors made of a flexible polymer and threadlike strands of a shape-memory alloy that return to a coiled shape when heated, causing the fabric to move.

New formulation leads to improved liquid battery

September 23, 2014 2:07 pm | by David L. Chandler, MIT | News | Comments

Donald Sadoway and his colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have already started a company to produce electrical-grid-scale liquid batteries, whose layers of molten material automatically separate due to their differing densities. But a newly developed formula substitutes different metals for the molten layers. The new formula allows the battery to work at a much lower temperature.

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