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Growing cell membranes are seen in this time lapse sequence (numbers correspond to minutes of duration). Courtesy of Michael Hardy, UC San Diego

Scientists create synthetic membranes that grow like living cells

June 30, 2015 11:34 am | by UC San Diego | News | Comments

Chemists and biologists have succeeded in designing and synthesizing an artificial cell membrane capable of sustaining continual growth, just like a living cell. Their achievement will allow scientists to more accurately replicate the behavior of living cell membranes, which until now have been modeled only by synthetic cell membranes without the ability to add new phospholipids.

Making new materials with micro-explosions

June 30, 2015 10:49 am | by Australian National University | News | Comments

Scientists have made exotic new materials by creating laser-induced micro-explosions in silicon...

Concrete cracks heal themselves

June 29, 2015 10:46 am | by American Concrete Institute (ACI) | News | Comments

In the human body, small wounds are easily treated by the body itself, requiring no further care...

Helium “balloons” offer new path to control complex materials

June 26, 2015 2:00 pm | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new method to manipulate a wide...

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All-plastic solar cell could help power future flexible electronics

June 26, 2015 7:06 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

If you picture a solar panel, it’s most likely dark blue or black, and rigid and flat. Now imagine one that’s semi-transparent, ultra-thin and bendable. Scientists are closing in on making the latter version a reality. They report in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces the development of a see-through, bendable solar cell made entirely out of plastic. The device could help power the coming wave of flexible electronics.

Pointing the way to crack-resistant metals

June 25, 2015 11:20 am | by Joe Kullman, Arizona State Univ. | News | Comments

Potential solutions to big problems continue to arise from research that is revealing how materials behave at the smallest scales. The results of a new study to understand the interactions of various metal alloys at the nanometer and atomic scales are likely to aid advances in methods of preventing the failure of systems critical to public and industrial infrastructure.

Nanostructure design enables pixels to produce two different colors

June 24, 2015 10:30 am | by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore | News | Comments

Through precise structural control, A*STAR researchers have encoded a single pixel with two distinct colors and have used this capability to generate a 3-D stereoscopic image. Figuring out how to include two types of information in the same area was an enticing challenge for the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering team.

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Physicists fine-tune control of agile exotic materials

June 24, 2015 7:50 am | by Susan Brown, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Physicists have found a way to control the length and strength of waves of atomic motion that have promising potential uses such as fine-scale imaging and the transmission of information within tight spaces. The researchers measured waves called polaritons that can emerge when light interacts with matter.

Can heat be controlled as waves?

June 23, 2015 3:30 pm | by John Toon, Georgia Tech | News | Comments

A growing interest in thermoelectric materials and pressure to improve heat transfer from increasingly powerful microelectronic devices have led to improved theoretical and experimental understanding of how heat is transported through nanometer-scale materials. Recent research has focused on the possibility of using interference effects in phonon waves to control heat transport in materials.

New process forms 3-D shapes from flat sheets of graphene

June 23, 2015 2:13 pm | by Rick Kubetz, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a new approach for forming 3-D shapes from flat, 2-D sheets of graphene, paving the way for future integrated systems of graphene-MEMS hybrid devices and flexible electronics.

New formula to speed development of modern materials

June 23, 2015 8:10 am | by Jeannie Kever, Univ. of Houston | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Houston have devised a new formula for calculating the maximum efficiency of thermoelectric materials, the first new formula in more than a half-century, designed to speed up the development of new materials suitable for practical use.

Sweeping lasers snap together nanoscale geometric grids

June 23, 2015 7:39 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Down at the nanoscale, where objects span just billionths of a meter, the size and shape of a material can often have surprising and powerful electronic and optical effects. Building larger materials that retain subtle nanoscale features is an ongoing challenge that shapes countless emerging technologies. Now, scientists have developed a new technique to create nanostructured grids for functional materials with unprecedented versatility.

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Discovery paves way for new superconducting electronics

June 22, 2015 12:15 pm | by Kim McDonald, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Physicists have developed a new way to control the transport of electrical currents through high-temperature superconductors. Their achievement, detailed in two separate scientific publications, paves the way for the development of sophisticated electronic devices capable of allowing scientists or clinicians to non-invasively measure the tiny magnetic fields in the heart or brain, and improve satellite communications.

The secrets of secretion

June 22, 2015 11:45 am | by Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Anything you can do, nature can do better. Chemical delivery systems, self-healing cells, non-stick surfaces, nature perfected those long ago. Now, researchers at Harvard Univ. have hacked nature's blueprints to create a new technology that could have broad-reaching impact on drug delivery systems and self-healing and anti-fouling materials.

How owls could help make wind turbines, planes quieter

June 22, 2015 7:56 am | by Sarah Collins, Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

A newly designed material, which mimics the wing structure of owls, could help make wind turbines, computer fans and even planes much quieter. Early wind tunnel tests of the coating have shown a substantial reduction in noise without any noticeable effect on aerodynamics.

Inkjet inks made of silk could yield smart bandages

June 17, 2015 9:24 am | by Kim Thurler, Tufts Univ. | News | Comments

Silk inks containing enzymes, antibiotics, antibodies, nanoparticles and growth factors could turn inkjet printing into a new, more effective tool for therapeutics, regenerative medicine and biosensing, according to new research led by Tufts Univ.  biomedical engineers and published in Advanced Materials.

Graphene heat-transfer riddle unraveled

June 17, 2015 8:50 am | by Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Univ. of Illinois Chicago | News | Comments

Researchers have solved the long-standing conundrum of how the boundary between grains of graphene affects heat conductivity in thin films of the miracle substance, bringing developers a step closer to engineering films at a scale useful for cooling microelectronic devices and hundreds of other nanotech applications.

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Theory turns to reality for nonlinear optical metamaterials

June 16, 2015 7:46 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Videos | Comments

A research team has realized one of the long-standing theoretical predictions in nonlinear optical metamaterials: creation of a nonlinear material that has opposite refractive indices at the fundamental and harmonic frequencies of light. Such a material, which doesn’t exist naturally, had been predicted for nearly a decade.

Squid inspires camouflaging smart materials

June 15, 2015 10:31 am | by Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Bristol have shown it is possible to create artificial skin that can be transformed at the flick of a switch to mimic one of nature's masters of camouflage, the squid. The research team has designed a smart materials system, inspired by biological chromatophores, which creates patterns that change and morph over time and mimic biological patterning.

Grinding nanotubes to get nanoribbons

June 15, 2015 7:26 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

A simple way to turn carbon nanotubes into valuable graphene nanoribbons may be to grind them, according to research led by Rice Univ. The trick, said Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan, is to mix two types of chemically modified nanotubes. When they come into contact during grinding, they react and unzip, a process that until now has depended largely on reactions in harsh chemical solutions.

A bright light for ultrafast snapshots of materials

June 11, 2015 4:46 pm | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

If you want to understand how novel phases emerge in correlated materials you can obtain complete viewpoints by taking “snapshots” of underlying rapid electronic interactions. One way to do this is by delivering pulses of extremely short-wavelength UV light to a material and deriving information based on the energy and direction of travel of the emitted electrons.

Investigating buried interfaces in ferroelectric materials

June 11, 2015 7:54 am | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

The nanoscale device community has shown great interest in exploiting the unique properties of ferroelectric materials for encoding information. But the circuitry for reading information stored in the polarization of these materials has prohibited its adaptation to extremely small scales. Now, researchers have developed a new technique that provides key information for an alternative decoding method.

Surfaces get smooth or bumpy on demand

June 11, 2015 7:24 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology team has developed a way of making soft materials, using a 3-D printer, with surface textures that can then be modified at will to be perfectly smooth, or ridged or bumpy, or even to have complex patterns that could be used to guide fluids.

Natural rubber from dandelions

June 8, 2015 10:59 am | by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft | News | Comments

Dandelions are modest plants that are an excellent alternative source for a raw material of high demand: natural rubber, the fundamental ingredient in rubber products. Fraunhofer researchers have established the basis for the large-scale production of high quality rubber with Russian dandelion.

Moving sector walls on the nano scale

June 8, 2015 10:35 am | by Fabio Bergamin, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Most magnetic materials have a structure that is somewhat more complicated than a commercially available domestic magnet: They not only have a north and south pole, but a variety of sectors, often only a few nanometers in size, in each of which the magnetic axis points in a different direction. These sectors are referred to as domains.

Nanospace-controlled gold material created using molecular technology

June 8, 2015 8:27 am | by National Institute for Materials Science | News | Comments

A research group has successfully developed a nanoporous gold material with a regular, uniform pore arrangement using polymers as a template. Nanoporous materials, having internal pores of several-nanometers in diameter and a large surface-to-volume ratio, have the potential of producing novel chemical reactions, and thus have been vigorously studied in the pursuit of developing new catalyst and absorbent materials.

The Possibilities of 3D Printing: It’s Only the Beginning

June 5, 2015 6:00 pm | by Dr. Elena Polyakova, Chief Operating Officer, Graphene 3D Lab | Articles | Comments

The future of 3D printing is bright and full of exciting promise. But the most intriguing scenario for this technology isn’t in the manufacture of objects we see every day—that will only be a small niche in the 3D-printing industry. Instead, 3D printing will realize its full potential when it enables people to innovate and create all new objects and devices in a one-touch process.

Ultra-tough fiber imitates structure of spider silk

June 4, 2015 10:43 am | by Polytechnique Montréal | News | Comments

Professors Gosselin and Therriault, along with their master's student, are not related to Spiderman. Nevertheless, these researchers have produced an ultra-tough polymer fiber directly inspired by spider silk. Three to eight microns in diameter, but five to 10 times tougher than steel or Kevlar: despite its lightness, spider silk has such remarkable elongation and stretch-resistance properties that humans have long sought to replicate it.

How “perfect” materials begin to fail

June 4, 2015 7:27 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

Crystalline materials have atoms that are neatly lined up in a repeating pattern. When they break, that failure tends to start at a defect, or a place where the pattern is disrupted. But how do defect-free materials break? Until recently, the question was purely theoretical; making a defect-free material was impossible.

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