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Off-the-shelf materials lead to self-healing polymers

February 4, 2014 2:06 pm | News | Comments

Look out, super glue and paint thinner. Thanks to new dynamic materials developed at the Univ. of Illinois, removable paint and self-healing plastics soon could be household products. Other self-healing material systems have focused on solid, strong materials, but this new study uses softer elastic materials made of polyurea, one of the most widely used classes of polymers in consumer goods such as paints, coatings, elastics and plastics.

Diamond defect boosts quantum technology

February 4, 2014 2:02 pm | News | Comments

New research shows that a remarkable defect in synthetic diamond produced by chemical vapor deposition allows researchers to measure, witness, and potentially manipulate electrons in a manner that could lead to new “quantum technology” for information processing.

Materials database proves its mettle with new discoveries

February 4, 2014 10:34 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Trying to find new materials, to improve the performance of anything from microchips to car bodies, has always been a process of trial and error. Massachusetts Institute of Technology materials scientist Gerbrand Ceder likens it to setting out from Boston for California, with neither a map nor a navigation system—and on foot.

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Self-organization controls “length” of supramolecular polymers

February 4, 2014 9:08 am | News | Comments

In a world’s first, researchers at the National Institute of Materials Science in Japan have succeeded in controlling the length of a one-dimensional, or supramolecular, assembly of molecules. Their method involves molecular self-organization, which until now has not been practical for polymer synthesis because of a lack of knowledge about the interplay of organizational pathways.

Quasi-particle swap between graphene layers

February 4, 2014 9:02 am | News | Comments

Scientists have used a particle physics theory to describe the behavior of particle-like entities, referred to as excitons, in two layers of graphene. The use of equations typically employed in high-energy physics has prompted the authors to suggest a design for an experimental device relying on a magnetically tunable optical filter that could verify their predictions.

Diamond film possible without the pressure

February 4, 2014 8:59 am | News | Comments

Perfect sheets of diamond a few atoms thick appear to be possible even without the big squeeze that makes natural gems. Scientists have speculated about it and a few laboratories have even seen signs of what they call diamane, an extremely thin film of diamond that has all of diamond’s superior semiconducting and thermal properties.

Gummy material addresses safety of lithium-ion batteries

February 4, 2014 8:39 am | by Tina Hilding, College of Engineering and Architecture | News | Comments

A group of Washington State Univ. researchers has developed a chewing gum-like battery material that could dramatically improve the safety of lithium-ion batteries. High-performance lithium batteries are popular in everything from computers to airplanes because they are able to store a large amount of energy compared to other batteries. Their biggest potential risk, however, comes from the electrolyte in the battery.

Technique grows tiny “hairy” materials at the microscale

February 3, 2014 8:16 am | News | Comments

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory attacked a tangled problem by developing a new technique to grow tiny “hairy” materials that assemble themselves at the microscale. The key ingredient is epoxy, which is added to a mixture of hardener and solvent inside an electric cell. Then the scientists run an alternating current through the cell and watch long, twisting fibers spring up. It looks like the way Chia pets grow in commercials.

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World’s first continuous-wave, tunable diamond Raman lasers

January 31, 2014 12:13 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at the Univ. of Strathclyde, U.K., have successfully demonstrated two notable high-power laser research developments: the first ever tunable diamond Raman laser and the first continuous-wave (CW) laser. Both lasers use synthetic diamond material made by California’s Element Six. The breakthrough is a significant achievement in solid-state laser engineering.

An electrical switch for magnetism

January 31, 2014 11:13 am | News | Comments

Only a few elements in the periodic table are inherently magnetic, but scientists have recently discovered that gold, silver, platinum, palladium and other transition metals demonstrate magnetic behavior when formed into nanometer-scale structures. Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science have now shown that this nanoscale magnetism in thin films of platinum can be controlled using an externally applied electric field.

New catalyst converts greenhouse gases into chemicals

January 31, 2014 11:02 am | by Karen B. Roberts, Univ. of Delaware | News | Comments

A team of researchers at the Univ. of Delaware has developed a highly selective catalyst capable of electrochemically converting carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide with 92% efficiency. The carbon monoxide then can be used to develop useful chemicals. The exceptionally high activity of the new electrocatalyst is due to its extremely large and highly curved internal surface.

Quantum dots provide complete control of photons

January 31, 2014 10:48 am | News | Comments

By emitting photons from a quantum dot at the top of a micropyramid, researchers at Linköping Univ. in Sweden are creating a polarized light source for such things as energy-saving computer screens and wiretap-proof communications.

Nearly everyone uses piezoelectrics, but do we know how they work?

January 31, 2014 8:00 am | News | Comments

Though piezoelectrics are a widely used technology, there are major gaps in our understanding of how they work. Researchers at NIST and in Canada believe they've learned why one of the main classes of these materials, known as relaxors, behaves in distinctly different ways from the rest and exhibit the largest piezoelectric effect. And the discovery comes in the shape of a butterfly.

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Rice lab clocks “hot” electrons

January 31, 2014 7:48 am | News | Comments

Plasmonic nanoparticles developed at Rice Univ. are becoming known for their ability to turn light into heat, but how to use them to generate electricity is not nearly as well understood. Scientists at Rice are working on that, too. They suggest that the extraction of electrons generated by surface plasmons in metal nanoparticles may be optimized and have measured the time plasmon-generated electrons take moving from nanorods to graphene.

New catalytic converter could cut fuel consumption, car manufacturing costs

January 29, 2014 10:27 am | News | Comments

A new catalytic converter developed in the U.K. could cut fuel consumption and manufacturing costs significantly. Tests suggest that the new prototype, which uses up to 80% less rare metal than a conventional converter, could reduce fuel consumption in a standard vehicle by up to 3%. Metals such as platinum now account for 60 to 70% of the cost of the component.

Navy researchers create new type of graphene transport device

January 29, 2014 10:12 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory have created a new type of tunnel device structure in which the tunnel barrier and transport channel are made of the same material, graphene. Their work shows the highest spin injection values yet measured for graphene, opening an entirely new avenue for making highly functional, scalable graphene-based electronic and spintronic devices a reality.

Stratasys introduces world’s first color multi-material 3-D printer

January 28, 2014 1:39 pm | News | Comments

Stratasys, a manufacturer of 3-D printers and materials for personal use, prototyping and production, has announced the launch of the ground-breaking Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3-D Printer, the first and only 3-D printer to combine colors with a variety of photopolymer 3-D printed materials.

Lungs may suffer when certain elements go nano

January 28, 2014 11:40 am | by Linda Fulps, Missouri Science & Technology | News | Comments

More than 2,800 commercially available applications are now based on nanoparticles, but this influx of nanotechnology is not without risks, say researchers at Missouri Univ. of Science and Technology. They have been systematically studying the effects of transition metal oxide nanoparticles on human lung cells and have found that the nanoparticles’ toxicity to the cells increased as they moved right on the periodic table.

Flexible, transparent conductor brings foldable TVs closer to reality

January 28, 2014 11:35 am | News | Comments

Univ. of Houston researchers have developed a new stretchable and transparent electrical conductor, bringing the potential for a fully foldable cell phone or a flat-screen television that can be folded and carried under your arm closer to reality.  The researchers report that their gold nanomesh electrodes, produced by the novel grain boundary lithography, increase resistance only slightly, even at a strain of 160%.

Study advances quest for better superconducting materials

January 28, 2014 7:37 am | News | Comments

Nearly 30 years after the discovery of high-temperature superconductivity, many questions remain, but an Oak Ridge National Laboratory team is providing insight that could lead to better superconductors. Their work examines the role of chemical dopants, which are essential to creating high-temperature superconductors.

Silk coat for diamonds makes sleek new imaging, drug delivery tool

January 27, 2014 2:12 pm | News | Comments

Silk and diamonds aren't just for ties and jewelry anymore. They're ingredients for a new kind of tiny glowing particle that could provide doctors and researchers with a novel technique for biological imaging and drug delivery. Just tens of nanometers across, the new particles are made of diamond, covered in silk and can be injected into living cells.

New boron nanomaterial may be possible

January 27, 2014 1:53 pm | News | Comments

Graphene, a sheet of carbon one atom thick, may soon have a new nanomaterial partner. In the laboratory and on supercomputers, chemical engineers have determined that a unique arrangement of 36 boron atoms in a flat disc with a hexagonal hole in the middle may be the preferred building blocks for “borophene.”

Swiss cheese crystal, or high-tech sponge?

January 27, 2014 12:17 pm | by Charlotte Hsu, Univ. at Buffalo | News | Comments

The sponges of the future will do more than clean house. Picture this, for example: Doctors use a tiny sponge to soak up a drug and deliver it directly to a tumor. Chemists at a manufacturing plant use another to trap and store unwanted gases. These technologies are what a Univ. at Buffalo team had in mind when they led the design of a new material called UBMOF-1.

Metamaterial could speed up underwater communications by orders of magnitude

January 24, 2014 11:46 am | News | Comments

Researchers in California have made progress in a project to develop fast-blinking light-emitting diode systems for underwater optical communications. They have shown that an artificial metamaterial can improve the “blink speed” of a fluorescent light-emitting dye molecule 76 times faster than normal while increasing brightness 80-fold.

Snow falls differently on the nanoscale

January 24, 2014 11:33 am | by Angela Herring, Northeastern Univ. | News | Comments

Hanchen Huang, an engineer at Northeastern Univ., has spent the last 10 years revising the clas­sical theory of crystal growth that accounts for his obser­va­tions of nanorod crys­tals. The theory, on the macroscale, holds that height steps gradually disappear as atoms of a given material tumble down to fill in the gaps. On the nanoscale, Huang has found, things operate differently.

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