Today’s fuel cells require costly platinum as a catalyst for the reaction that forms water from hydrogen and oxygen. A research team inspired by nature to develop an alternative catalyst has designed a material consisting of organic molecules as well as iron or manganese on a metallic substrate. These materials are less costly and more easily available than platinum.
A Duke Univ. research team has developed a better recipe for synthetic replacement cartilage in joints. Combining two innovative technologies, the team found a way to create artificial replacement tissue that mimics both the strength and suppleness of native cartilage. Articular cartilage is the tissue on the ends of bones where they meet at joints in the body.
Strategies to manipulate light and sound go back to the first spherical glass bead and the pounding of the first hollow log. But their full potential is only just becoming apparent, according to a review by materials scientists at Rice Univ. and their colleagues. New abilities to corral light and sound from the macroscale to the nanoscale with structured polymers could deliver profound changes in the way we live.
A research team in France has invented an adhesion method that creates a strong bond between two gels by spreading on their surface a solution containing nanoparticles. Until now, there was no entirely satisfactory method of obtaining adhesion between two gels or two biological tissues. The bond is resistant to water and uses no polymers or chemical reactions.
One of the most difficult hurdles in adapting carbon nanotubes to industrial purposes is processing the carbon nanotubes into smaller forms to allow them to more easily disperse. However, recent research has managed to cut carbon nanotubes into the smallest dimensions ever to overcome this problem.
There are examples of art imitating nature all around us, from Monet to Chihuly, but when physicist Latika Menon peered under the electron microscope last fall, she discovered the exact opposite in gallium nitride nanowires that bore an uncanny resemblance to artistic pots found in her native India. Menon has begun to control these shapes, which will make the nanowires significantly more promising for use in advanced devices.
Figuring that if some is good, more must be better, researchers have been trying to pack more graphene, a supermaterial, into structural composites. Collaborative research led by Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln materials engineers discovered that, in this case, less is more. The team learned that using a small amount of graphene oxide as a template improves carbon nanomaterials which, in turn, promises to improve composite materials.
By applying pressure to a semiconductor, researchers have been able to transform a semiconductor into a “topological insulator” (TI), an intriguing state of matter in which a material’s interior is insulating but its surfaces or edges are conducting with unique electrical properties. This is the first time that researchers have used pressure to gradually “tune” a material into the TI state.
The first LCD television was invented in 1972 at Westinghouse in Pennsylvania. Like many important inventions, it didn’t become a common sight in the average home for several decades. It took the combined efforts of many researchers and several corporations to create a display of acceptable quality in the late 1990s. In the early 2000s, another innovation helped set the stage for the proliferation of LCD displays: Multilayer Optical Film.
Univ. of Oregon chemists studying the structure of ligand-stabilized gold nanoparticles have captured fundamental new insights about their stability. The information, they say, could help to maintain a desired, integral property in nanoparticles used in electronic devices, where stability is important.
Heating a sheet of plastic may not bring it to life, but it sure looks like it does in new experiments at Rice Univ. The materials created by Rice polymer scientist Rafael Verduzco and his colleagues start as flat slabs, but they morph into shapes that can be controlled by patterns written into their layers.
The chemicals and advanced materials industry consists of large multinational companies serving nearly every other market, key single market material and application development firms and an array of smaller, niche chemical and material companies.
Are electrons truly round? More specifically, is the electron’s charge between its poles uniform? A group at JILA has tackled this difficult question and has developed a method of spinning electric and magnetic fields around trapped molecular ions to measure the tiny electrons. They haven’t yet matched other electric dipole moment measurement techniques, but eventually the new method should surpass them.
A researcher team from Spain and Italy say that when envisioning in vivo microrobots of the future, we should forget cogwheels, pistons and levers. These miniature robots will be soft, and behave much like euglenids, tiny unicellular aquatic animals. Their work in studying these creatures have given them insights on how to design soft robots with effective mechanical structures.
Researchers have combined cutting-edge experimental techniques and computer simulations to find a new way of predicting how water dissolves crystalline structures like those found in natural stone and cement. The research could have wide-ranging impacts in diverse areas, including water quality and planning, environmental sustainability, corrosion resistance and cement construction.
Scientists from NIST and Sandia National Laboratories have added something new to a family of engineered, high-technology materials called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs): the ability to conduct electricity. This breakthrough—conductive MOFs—has the potential to make these already remarkable materials even more useful, particularly for detecting gases and toxic substances.
The Information Age will get a major upgrade with the arrival of quantum processors faster and more powerful than today’s supercomputers. For the benefits of this new Information Age 2.0 to be fully realized, however, quantum computers will need fast and efficient multi-directional light sources. While quantum technologies remain grist for science fiction, a team of researchers has taken an important step towards efficient light generation.
Scientists are reporting development of a squishy gel that, when compressed at a key location such as a painful knee joint, releases anti-inflammatory medicine. The new material could someday deliver medications when and where osteoarthritis patients need it most.
The outer shell of a droplet of oil on a surface has a thin skin which allows it to hold its shape like a small dome. Researchers at the Univ. of Missouri have developed a technique to form a virtual wall for oily liquids that will help confine them to a certain area, aiding researchers who are studying these complex molecules. The finding could also help halt industrial oil spills.
A consortium led by Northwestern Univ. will establish a new NIST-sponsored center of excellence for advanced materials research. The Center for Hierarchical Materials Design (CHiMaD) will be funded in part by a $25 million award from NIST over five years and will focus on computational tools, databases and experimental techniques to allow “materials by design”, a major goal of the Materials Genome Initiative.
Listen up nickel-titanium and all you other shape-memory alloys, there’s a new kid on the block that just claimed the championship for elasticity and is primed to take over the shape memory apps market at the nanoscale. A research team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has discovered a way to introduce a recoverable strain into bismuth ferrite of up to 14% on the nanoscale.
Oil and water don’t mix, as any chemist or cook knows. Tom Russell, a polymer scientist from the Univ. of Massachusetts who now holds a visiting faculty appointment with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Materials Sciences Div., is using that chemical and culinary truth to change the natural spherical shape of liquid drops into ellipsoids, tubes and even fibrous structures similar in appearance to glass wool.
When engineers design devices, they must often join together two materials that expand and contract at different rates as temperatures change. Such thermal differences can cause problems if, for instance, a semiconductor chip is plugged into a socket that can’t expand and contract rapidly enough to maintain an unbroken contact over time. The potential for failure at such junctures has intensified as devices have shrunk to the nanoscale.
Humble aluminum’s plasmonic properties may make it far more valuable than gold and silver for certain applications, according to new research by Rice Univ. scientists. Because aluminum, as nanoparticles or nanostructures, displays optical resonances across a much broader region of the spectrum than either gold or silver, it may be a good candidate for harvesting solar energy and for other large-area optical devices and materials.
In a new effort to understand magnetism, a group of Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging researchers created “mimic” magnets by controlling quantum matter waves made of rubidium atoms. Under well-defined conditions made possible with the help of supercomputers, these artificially created magnets can be studied with clarity and then give a fresh perspective on long-standing riddles.