Modern research has found no simple, inexpensive way to alter a material’s thermal conductivity at room temperature. That lack of control has made it hard to create new classes of devices that use phonons, rather than electrons or photons, to harvest energy or transmit information. Phonons have proved hard to harness.
Scientists have demonstrated the potential for softwoods to process more easily into pulp and paper if engineered to incorporate a key feature of hardwoods. The finding could improve the economics of the pulp, paper and biofuels industries and reduce those industries' environmental impact.
Real or counterfeit? Northwestern Univ. scientists have invented sophisticated fluorescent inks that one day could be used as multicolored barcodes for consumers to authenticate products that are often counterfeited. Snap a photo with your smartphone, and it will tell you if the item is real and worth your money.
A more effective method for closing gaps in atomically small wires has been developed by Univ. of Illinois researchers, further opening the doors to a new transistor technology. Silicon-based transistors have been the foundation of modern electronics for more than half a century. A new transistor technology, carbon nanotube wires, shows promise in replacing silicon because it can operate ten times as fast and is more flexible.
The editors of R&D Magazine have announced a deadline extension for the 2015 R&D 100 Awards entry process until May 18, 2015. The R&D 100 Awards have a 50 plus year history of awarding the 100 most technologically significant products of the year.
It can shift from red to green to violet. It can mimic patterns and designs. And it can do all of this in a flash, literally. The same qualities that define the cuttlefish, a sea dweller that uses its powers of dynamic camouflage to survive and communicate, also apply to a new engineering feat that behaves much like nature's master of disguise.
An experiment led by the Univ. of Colorado Boulder arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) and will look into the fluid dynamics of liquid crystals that may lead to benefits both on Earth and in space. A new physical science investigation on ISS, the Observation and Analysis of Smectic Islands in Space (OASIS), will examine the behavior of liquid crystals in microgravity.
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.
The key to better cell phones and other rechargeable electronics may be in tiny "sandwiches" made of nanosheets, according to mechanical engineering research from Kansas State Univ. The research team are improving rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The team has focused on the lithium cycling of molybdenum disulfide, or MoS2, sheets, which Singh describes as a "sandwich" of one molybdenum atom between two sulfur atoms.
Just a few years ago, many researchers working in alternative manufacturing methods believed the basic layering technologies integral to 3D printing limited the capability of this technique to build quality optical devices and lenses. But, as rapidly evolving as these techniques are, and as broad ranging as the applications it’s infiltrating, this limitation has been surmounted by a number of research groups around the world.
A potentially game-changing breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis has been achieved with the development of a system that can capture carbon dioxide emissions before they are vented into the atmosphere and then, powered by solar energy, convert that carbon dioxide into valuable chemical products, including biodegradable plastics, pharmaceutical drugs and even liquid fuels.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.