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The Lead

Beyond the lithium ion

April 17, 2015 11:58 am | by Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago | News | Comments

The race is on around the world as scientists strive to develop a new generation of batteries that can perform beyond the limits of the current lithium-ion based battery. Researchers at the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago have taken a significant step toward the development of a battery that could outperform the lithium-ion technology used in electric cars such as the Chevy Volt.

Improving rechargeable batteries with MoS2 nano “sandwich”

April 17, 2015 9:00 am | by Jennifer Tidball, Kansas State Univ. | News | Comments

The key to better cell phones and other rechargeable electronics may be in tiny "sandwiches"...

3D-Printed Optic Breakthroughs

April 16, 2015 2:20 pm | by Tim Studt | Articles | Comments

Just a few years ago, many researchers working in alternative manufacturing methods believed the...

Major advance in artificial photosynthesis poses win-win for the environment

April 16, 2015 12:43 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A potentially game-changing breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis has been achieved with the...

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Novel nanoparticles could save soldiers’ lives after explosions

April 16, 2015 8:11 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Soldiers who suffer internal trauma from explosions might one day benefit from a new treatment now under development. Researchers report in ACS Macro Letters that injecting a certain type of nanoparticle helped reduce lung damage in rats experiencing such trauma. The potential treatment, which could be given at the most critical moment immediately after a blast, could save lives.

Researchers create bio-inspired flame retardants

April 15, 2015 9:53 am | by NIST | News | Comments

After devising several new and promising "green" flame retardants for furniture padding, NIST researchers took a trip to the grocery store and cooked up their best fire-resistant coatings yet. As important, these protective coatings can be made in one straightforward step.

Nano-coated mesh could clean oil spills

April 15, 2015 9:24 am | by Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

The mesh coating is among a suite of nature-inspired nanotechnologies under development at Ohio State and described in two papers in Nature Scientific Reports. Potential applications range from cleaning oil spills to tracking oil deposits underground.

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Nanotubes with two walls have singular qualities

April 15, 2015 8:21 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers have determined that two walls are better than one when turning carbon nanotubes into materials like strong, conductive fibers or transistors. Rice materials scientist Enrique Barrera and his colleagues used atomic-level models of double-walled nanotubes to see how they might be tuned for applications that require particular properties.

Technique could slash energy used to produce plastics

April 14, 2015 11:52 am | by Univ. of Colorado, Boulder | News | Comments

A new material developed at the Univ. of Colorado Boulder could radically reduce the energy needed to produce a wide variety of plastic products, from grocery bags and cling wrap to replacement hips and bulletproof vests. Approximately 80 million metric tons of polyethylene is produced globally each year, making it the most common plastic in the world.

Taking aircraft manufacturing out of the oven

April 14, 2015 8:03 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Composite materials used in aircraft wings and fuselages are typically manufactured in large, industrial-sized ovens: Multiple polymer layers are blasted with temperatures up to 750 F, and solidified to form a solid, resilient material. Using this approach, considerable energy is required first to heat the oven, then the gas around it, and finally the actual composite.

Long-sought magnetic mechanism observed in exotic hybrid materials

April 13, 2015 8:08 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists have measured the subatomic intricacies of an exotic phenomenon first predicted more than 60 years ago. This so-called van Vleck magnetism is the key to harnessing the quantum quirks of topological insulators, and could lead to unprecedented electronics.

Material could boost batteries’ power, help power plants

April 13, 2015 7:43 am | by Paul Alongi, Clemson Univ. | News | Comments

You’re going to have to think very small to understand something that has the potential to be very big. A team of researchers developed a material that acts as a superhighway for ions. The material could make batteries more powerful, change how gaseous fuel is turned into liquid fuel and help power plants burn coal and natural gas more efficiently.

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Plant cell structure discovery could lead to improved renewable materials

April 10, 2015 12:07 pm | by Univ. of Warwick | News | Comments

The step forward follows research by the Univs. of Warwick and Cambridge and the unexpected discovery of a previously unknown arrangement of molecules in plant cell walls. The researchers investigated the polymer xylan, which comprises a third of wood matter.

How complex carbon nanostructures form

April 9, 2015 4:46 pm | by Jeff Sossamon, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia | News | Comments

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are microscopic tubular structures that engineers “grow” through a process conducted in a high-temperature furnace. The forces that create the CNT structures known as “forests” often are unpredictable and are mostly left to chance. Now, a Univ. of Missouri researcher has developed a way to predict how these complicated structures are formed.

Ordinary clay can save the day

April 9, 2015 11:12 am | by Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology | News | Comments

Carbon capture will play a central role in helping the nations of the world manage and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Many materials are being tested for the purpose of capturing carbon dioxide. But now researchers led by the Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology have found that ordinary clay can work just as effectively as more advanced materials.

Mixing up a batch of stronger metals

April 9, 2015 8:09 am | by Katie Bethea, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Just as a delicate balance of ingredients determines the tastiness of a cookie or cake, the specific ratio of metals in an alloy determines desirable qualities of the new metal, such as improved strength or lightness. A new class of alloys, called high entropy alloys, is unique in that these alloys contain five or more elements mixed evenly in near equal concentrations and have shown exceptional engineering properties.

SESAME passes an important milestone at CERN

April 8, 2015 1:57 pm | by CERN | News | Comments

The SESAME project has reached an important milestone: the first complete cell of this accelerator for the Middle East has been assembled and successfully tested at CERN. SESAME is a synchrotron light source under construction in Jordan.

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Accelerating materials discovery with world’s largest database of elastic properties

April 7, 2015 7:53 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have published the world’s largest set of data on the complete elastic properties of inorganic compounds, increasing by an order of magnitude the number of compounds for which such data exists.

Frustrated magnets: New experiment reveals clues to their discontent

April 6, 2015 8:12 am | by Catherine Zandonella, Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

An experiment conducted by Princeton Univ. researchers has revealed an unlikely behavior in a class of materials called frustrated magnets, addressing a long-debated question about the nature of these discontented quantum materials. The work represents a surprising discovery that down the road may suggest new research directions for advanced electronics.

Water makes wires even more nano

April 6, 2015 7:35 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Water is the key component in a Rice Univ. process to reliably create patterns of metallic and semiconducting wires less than 10 nm wide. The technique by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour builds upon its discovery that the meniscus, the curvy surface of water at its edge, can be an effective mask to make nanowires.

Recipe for antibacterial plastic

March 30, 2015 8:21 am | by Cal Powell, Univ. of Georgia | News | Comments

Bioplastics made from protein sources such as albumin and whey have shown significant antibacterial properties, findings that could eventually lead to their use in plastics used in medical applications such as wound healing dressings, sutures, catheter tubes and drug delivery, according to a recent study by the Univ. of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Nanoscale “worms” provide new route to nano-necklace structures

March 30, 2015 8:11 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a novel technique for crafting nanometer-scale necklaces based on tiny star-like structures threaded onto a polymeric backbone. The technique could provide a new way to produce hybrid organic-inorganic shish kebab structures from semiconducting, magnetic, ferroelectric and other materials that may afford useful nanoscale properties.

Novel plastic could spur new green energy applications, artificial muscles

March 26, 2015 8:11 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

A plastic used in filters and tubing has an unusual trait: It can produce electricity when pulled or pressed. This ability has been used in small ways, but now researchers are coaxing fibers of the material to make even more electricity for a wider range of applications from green energy to "artificial muscles."

Copper atoms bring a potential new battery material to life

March 26, 2015 8:03 am | by Laura Mgrdichian, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Lithium-ion batteries are an important component of modern technology, powering phones, laptops, tablets and other portable devices when they are not plugged in. They even power electric vehicles. But to make batteries that last longer, provide more power, and are more energy efficient, scientists must find battery materials that perform better than those currently in use.

Carbon nanotube fibers make superior links to brain

March 25, 2015 10:33 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Carbon nanotube fibers invented at Rice Univ. may provide a way to communicate directly with the brain. The fibers have proven superior to metal electrodes for deep brain stimulation and to read signals from a neuronal network. Because they provide a two-way connection, they show promise for treating patients with neurological disorders while monitoring the real-time response of neural circuits in areas that control movement and mood.

New kind of “tandem” solar cell developed

March 25, 2015 7:41 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford Univ. have developed a new kind of solar cell that combines two different layers of sunlight-absorbing material in order to harvest a broader range of the sun’s energy. The development could lead to photovoltaic cells that are more efficient than those currently used in solar-power installations, the researchers say.

Plasmonic ceramic materials key to advances in nanophotonics

March 19, 2015 3:52 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Progress in developing nanophotonic devices capable of withstanding high temperatures and harsh conditions for applications including data storage, sensing, health care and energy will depend on the research community and industry adopting new "plasmonic ceramic" materials, according to a commentary in Science.

Modeling how cells move together could inspire self-healing materials

March 19, 2015 8:02 am | by Louise Lerner, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

A paper published in Scientific Reports by a team led by physicist Igor Aronson of the Argonne National Laboratory modeled the motion of cells moving together. This may help scientists design new technologies inspired by nature, such as self-healing materials in batteries and other devices. Scientists have been borrowing ideas from the natural world for hundreds of years.

Buckyballs become bucky-bombs

March 18, 2015 4:15 pm | by Robert Perkins, Univ. of Southern California | News | Comments

In 1996, a trio of scientists won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their discovery of Buckminsterfullerene: soccer-ball-shaped spheres of 60 joined carbon atoms that exhibit special physical properties. Now, 20 years later, scientists have figured out how to turn them into Buckybombs.

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