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Researchers build 3-D structures from liquid metal

July 9, 2013 8:05 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed 3-D printing technology and techniques to create free-standing structures made of liquid metal at room temperature. The researchers developed multiple techniques for creating these structures, which can be used to connect electronic components in three dimensions. While it is relatively straightforward to pattern the metal “in plane", these liquid metal structures can also form shapes that reach up or down.

Scientists visualize structure of a supercooled liquid

July 8, 2013 8:22 am | News | Comments

A liquid metal alloy, if cooled slowly, will eventually form a solid phase. Before it solidifies, however, the liquid undergoes a liquid-liquid transition to a phase in which it has the same concentration but a more strongly ordered structure. This structure, called, a supercooled liquid, has now been examined by materials scientists using x-rays.

Water droplets prefer the soft touch

June 25, 2013 11:07 am | News | Comments

Researchers have found a way to drive water droplets along a flat surface without applying heat, chemicals, electricity or other forces: All that’s required is varying the stiffness of the surface in the desired direction. The droplets, it turns out, prefer the soft spots.

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Discovery could lead to new way of cleaning up oil spills

June 21, 2013 7:53 am | News | Comments

Univ. of Alberta researchers have shown that a simple glass surface can be made to repel oil underwater. This has huge implications for development of a chemical repellent technology for use in cleaning up oil spills. At the time of spills, marine flora and fauna may come into contact with the oil, wreaking major damage. Underwater oil-repellent technology can potentially prevent the toxic effect of oil on marine ecosystems.

DNA coatings help achieve new forms of colloidal self-assembly

June 13, 2013 8:58 pm | News | Comments

Colloidal solutions are made up of large particles, dispersed in a liquid solvent, that achieve stable structural arrangements through various types of self-assembly. But what about self-assembly of two—or more—species of different colloids? Scientists showed that when the interactions between the particles of two different DNA-coated colloids are carefully designed, they result in the formation of new structures.

Study provides framework for understanding the energetics of ionic liquids

June 7, 2013 4:25 pm | News | Comments

A new study by researchers at Univ. of California, Santa Barbara provides clues into the understanding of the behavior of the charged molecules or particles in ionic liquids. The new framework may lead to the creation of cleaner, more sustainable and nontoxic batteries, and other sources of chemical power.

Whispering light hears liquids talk

June 7, 2013 12:02 pm | News | Comments

Ever been to a whispering gallery—a quiet, circular space underneath an old cathedral dome that captures and amplifies sounds as quiet as a whisper? Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Michigan are applying similar principles in the development optomechanical sensors that will help unlock vibrational secrets of chemical and biological samples at the nanoscale.

Researchers use weightlessness of space to design better materials

May 30, 2013 11:10 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Northeastern University are among the many scientists helping NASA use the weightlessness of space to design stronger materials here on Earth. Researchers say by observing the solidification process in a microgravity environment—in this case, the International Space Station—they were able to study how this morphological instability develops in three dimensions to shape the structure of materials on a micron scale.

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“Crystal-clear” method distinguishes between glass and fluids

May 28, 2013 11:40 am | News | Comments

Many solids are produced from melting, a process that creates complex internal stresses as the material cools. Until now, our understanding of the unique characteristics exhibited by the condition of the glass as compared with a tough molten mass has been spotty. A collaboration of several research teams in Europe has recently offered a surprisingly simple model to explain the difference between glass and molten materials.

Are carbon nanotubes capable of "superfast" water transport?

May 28, 2013 9:08 am | by Peter Rüegg, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Materials developers have had high hopes for using carbon nanotubes to desalinate seawater. However, a simulation recently conducted in Europe reveals that the ultra-fast transport rates required to accomplish this task have not been correctly measured in carbon nanotubes. These new findings suggest the use of a carbon nanotube membranes as a filter medium rather a transport mechanism might be more realistic.

Physicists create world’s smallest drops

May 17, 2013 12:15 pm | News | Comments

Results of a recent experiment conducted at the Large Hadron Collider may have generated the smallest drops of liquid ever produced in a laboratory. Evidence of the minuscule droplets was extracted from the results of colliding protons with lead ions at velocities approaching the speed of light. According to the scientists’ calculations, these short-lived droplets are the size of three to five protons.

Engineers manipulate a buckyball by inserting a single water molecule

May 6, 2013 10:04 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a technique to isolate a single water molecule inside a buckyball, or C60, and to drive motion of the so-called “big” nonpolar ball through the encapsulated “small” polar H2O molecule, a controlling transport mechanism in a nanochannel under an external electric field. They expect this method will lead to an array of new applications.

Keeping beverages cool in summer: It’s not just the heat, it’s the humidity

April 26, 2013 10:19 am | by Hannah Hickey, University of Washington | News | Comments

Recent work by University of Washington climate scientists have provided new insights into how to keep a drink cold on a hot day. Their work shows that, in sultry weather, condensation on the outside of a canned beverage doesn’t just make it slippery: those drops can provide more heat than the surrounding air, meaning the drink would warm more quickly.

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Geckos keep firm grip in wet natural habitat

April 2, 2013 12:50 pm | News | Comments

A paper published this week offers a comprehensive answer to the long-debated question of how geckos are able to stick to trees and leaves during rainforest downpours. Researchers tackling this problem have discovered that wet, hydrophobic surfaces like those of leaves and tree trunks secure a gecko's grip similar to the way dry surfaces do. This link between “wettability” and adhesion could developers of synthetic adhesives.

Engineers explain physics of fluids over 100 years after original discovery

March 22, 2013 2:12 pm | News | Comments

Some 135 years ago, the English physicist Lord Baron Rayleigh wrote that two fluid jets or drops do not always merge into one body of liquid, a counter-intuitive phenomena in physics that has since been studied in much detail. Much work has been done in drop-bath bouncing, but no work has been done in bouncing jets except for a couple of demonstrations in textbooks. Researchers at Virginia Tech have demonstrated and explain this phenomenon for the first time.

Engineers explain physics of fluids over 100 years after original discovery

March 22, 2013 2:12 pm | News | Comments

Some 135 years ago, the English physicist Lord Baron Rayleigh wrote that two fluid jets or drops do not always merge into one body of liquid, a counter-intuitive phenomena in physics that has since been studied in much detail. Much work has been done in drop-bath bouncing, but no work has been done in bouncing jets except for a couple of demonstrations in textbooks. Researchers at Virginia Tech have demonstrated and explain this phenomenon for the first time.

Engineers explain physics of fluids over 100 years after original discovery

March 22, 2013 2:12 pm | News | Comments

Some 135 years ago, the English physicist Lord Baron Rayleigh wrote that two fluid jets or drops do not always merge into one body of liquid, a counter-intuitive phenomena in physics that has since been studied in much detail. Much work has been done in drop-bath bouncing, but no work has been done in bouncing jets except for a couple of demonstrations in textbooks. Researchers at Virginia Tech have demonstrated and explain this phenomenon for the first time.

Graphene researchers create superheated water that can corrode diamonds

March 11, 2013 10:11 am | News | Comments

A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has successfully altered the properties of water, making it corrosive enough to etch diamonds. This strange result was achieved by attaching a layer of graphene on diamond and heated to high temperatures. Water molecules trapped between them become highly corrosive, as opposed to normal water.

High sensitivity detection method found for mercury in water

March 6, 2013 10:48 am | News | Comments

A research group in Japan has recently discovered that it is possible to detect diluted ionic mercury in water with more than 10 times higher sensitivity than with the conventional spectroscopy method. Ionic mercury is a harmful substance when dissolved in rivers and lakes, even in trace amounts. In contrast to the conventional spectroscopic detection method, the infrared spectroscopy detection method was used for this method.

Nature's phenomena might teach engineers new tricks

March 5, 2013 4:45 pm | News | Comments

There are currently no engineered systems that operate under conditions similar to those that allow reptiles and amphibians to dart across a water’s surface, or that allow a frog to jump out of the water and catch an insect with a single power stroke. Engineers at Virginia Tech hope to learn more about these living mechanics puzzles so as to develop bio-inspired systems for manufacturing or robotics.

An answer to the question: Film or droplets?

January 29, 2013 8:32 am | News | Comments

The phenomenon of liquids coating rough surfaces in the form of films or droplets is commonplace. But how can we tell in what conditions a liquid will form a continuous film or just isolated drops? Existing theories generally describe ideally smooth surfaces, which are not practically relevant. Now, for the first time, scientists have developed a general theory based on simple mathematics that provides an answer to the question of film or droplets for rough surfaces.

Liquid crystal’s chaotic inner dynamics

January 24, 2013 4:08 pm | News | Comments

Physicists have recently demonstrated that the application of a very strong alternating electric field to thin liquid crystal cells leads to a new distinct nonlinear dynamic effect in the response of the cells. Researchers were able to explain this result through spatio-temporal chaos theory. The finding has implications for the operation of liquid crystal devices because their operation depends on electro-optic switch phenomena.

Indiana using new concrete to increase bridge life span

January 24, 2013 12:04 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue University | News | Comments

Civil engineers at Purdue University, working with the Indiana Department of Transportation, is in the process of deploying a new internally cured high-performance concrete on four bridges in Indiana. Typically curing methods involve a surface application of water on cement. The new method introduces water in internal pockets, enhancing curing efficacy and strengthening the finished concrete.

New surfaces repel most known liquids

January 16, 2013 1:18 pm | News | Comments

In an advance toward stain-proof, spill-proof clothing, protective garments and other products that shrug off virtually every liquid—from blood and ketchup to concentrated acids—scientists are reporting development of new "superomniphobic" surfaces. These new surfaces display extreme repellency to two families of liquids: Newtonian and non-Newtonian.

Bubble study could improve industrial splash control

December 13, 2012 9:24 am | News | Comments

For the first time, scientists witnessed the details of the full, ultrafast process of liquid droplets evolving into a bubble when they strike a surface. Their research determined that surface wetness affects the bubble's fate. This research could one day help eliminate bubbles formed during spray coating, metal casting, and inkjet printing.

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