We use aluminum to make planes lightweight, store sodas in recyclable containers, keep the walls of our homes energy efficient and ensure that the Thanksgiving turkey is cooked to perfection. Now, thanks to a group of Japanese researchers, there may soon be a new application for the versatile metal: hydrogen storage for fuel cells.
Researchers at Oregon State Univ. and the Univ. of Oregon announced a scientific advance that has eluded researchers for more than 100 years—a platform to study and fully understand the aqueous chemistry of aluminum, one of the world’s most important metals.
A new process developed at the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago suggests that base metals may be used as catalysts in the manufacture of countless products made from petroleum-based raw materials. The metals, copper and iron, could potentially replace a rare and expensive metal catalyst currently required for the chemical process called borylation.
In new research, scientists have demonstrated that the efficiency of all solar panel designs could be improved by up to 22% by covering their surface with aluminium studs that bend and trap light inside the absorbing layer. At the microscopic level, the studs make the surface of the solar panels look similar to the interlocking building bricks played with by children across the world.
It was a result so unexpected that Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers initially thought it must be a mistake: Under certain conditions, putting a cracked piece of metal under tension has the reverse effect, causing the crack to close and its edges to fuse together. The surprising finding could lead to self-healing materials that repair incipient damage before it has a chance to spread.
When a tiny droplet of liquid tin is heated with a laser, plasma forms on the surface of the droplet and produces extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light, which has a higher frequency and greater energy than normal ultraviolet. Now, for the first time, researchers have mapped this EUV emission and developed a theoretical model that explains how the emission depends on the 3-D shape of the plasma.
Magnesium is a lightweight metal used in cars and planes to improve their fuel efficiency. But it currently requires a lot of energy and money to produce the metal. Engineers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is developing a new production method that would be 50% more energy efficient than the United States' current production process.
A study of data from hundreds of soil samples taken around six old water tower sites in southern Rhode Island finds that even when lead levels on the surface are low, concentrations can sometimes be greater at depths down to a foot. The findings inform efforts to assess the effect of lead paint from old water towers on surrounding properties.
Researchers have developed a new theoretical model that will speed the development of new nanomaterial alloys that retain their advantageous properties at elevated temperatures. Nanoscale materials are made up of grains that are less than 100 nm in diameter. These materials are of interest to researchers because two materials can have the same chemical composition but very different mechanical properties depending on their grain size.
A new, environmentally-friendly electronic alloy consisting of 50 aluminum atoms bound to 50 atoms of antimony may be promising for building next-generation "phase-change" memory devices. Phase-change memory is being actively pursued as an alternative to the ubiquitous flash memory for data storage applications, because flash memory is limited in its storage density and phase-change memory can operate much faster.
More than one billion people worldwide rely on fish as an important source of animal protein, consuming low levels of methylmercury. Methylmercury compounds specifically target the central nervous system, but now researchers have combined synchrotron x-rays with methylmercury-poisoned zebrafish larvae to learn that they may also affect our vision.
Researchers in Canada have found that abundant materials in the Earth's crust can be used to make inexpensive and easily manufactured nanoparticle-based solar cells. The team has designed nanoparticles that absorb light and conduct electricity from two very common elements: phosphorus and zinc. These are much more plentiful than scarce cadmium, and safer than lead.
Weighing in at two thirds less than aluminium, magnesium is the lightest structural metal. It has many potential industrial applications, but uptake is severely restricted by its poor resistance to corrosion. Scientists have found a way to dramatically reduce the corrosion rate of magnesium, however, and it involves adding arsenic.
Corrosion and rust exacts a substantial financial toll on economic output. But determining how it affect steels and alloys has traditionally been difficult. However, recent studies that have analyzed an amorphous steel of iron, chromium, molybdenum, boron and carbon show that the more ordered a material’s structure is, and the more uneven the distribution of its atoms, the more easily it is corroded by rust.
Chemists have unexpectedly made two differently colored crystals—one orange, the other blue—from one chemical in the same flask while studying a special kind of molecular connection called an agostic bond. The discovery is providing new insights into important industrial chemical reactions such as those that occur while making plastics and fuels.
What happens to a resonant wireless power transfer system in the presence of complex electromagnetic environments, such as metal plates? A team of researchers has explored the influences at play in this type of situation, and they describe how efficient wireless power transfer can be achieved in the presence of metal plates.
The use of plasmonic black metals could someday provide a pathway to more efficient photovoltaics to improve solar energy harvesting, according to researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The LLNL Materials Engineering Div. research team has made breakthroughs experimenting with black metals. These nanostructured metals are designed to have low reflectivity and high absorption of visible and infrared light.
The properties of nanomaterials could be easier to predict in the future thanks to work by researchers who have studied metal they have ground metal continuously finer powders. They have prepared a detailed catalogue of how the structure of the metal grains changes depending on grain size, and have discovered that the crystal lattices initially shrink, but expand again below a certain threshold grain size.
Unlike elements like carbon or iron, gold cannot be created within a star. Instead, it must be born in a more cataclysmic event—like one that occurred last month known as a short gamma-ray burst (GRB). Observations of this GRB provide evidence that it resulted from the collision of two neutron stars, and that its unique glow potentially signifies the creation of large amounts of heavy elements, including gold.
Researchers have developed 3-D printing technology and techniques to create free-standing structures made of liquid metal at room temperature. The researchers developed multiple techniques for creating these structures, which can be used to connect electronic components in three dimensions. While it is relatively straightforward to pattern the metal “in plane", these liquid metal structures can also form shapes that reach up or down.
Researchers at North Carolina State Univ. have developed a new metallic bubble wrap that is lighter, stronger and more flexible than sheet metal and more heat- and chemical-resistant than plastic or other polymer-based bubble wraps. Potential applications include automobile body panels, the wing edges of airplanes, suitcases, helmets and cases for computers and other electronic devices.
As a base metal, industrial aluminum often requires protection. Coatings, bondings, and paint are used, but require pre-treatment of aluminum, usually by “pickling” with acidic or alkaline baths. These are costly and inexact processes, even in spray form, which has led researchers in Germany to develop a pickling tape that pre-treats metal cleanly and locally.
New research in Australia shows that existing copper resources can sustain increasing worldwide demand for at least a century, meaning social and environmental concerns could be the most important restrictions on future copper production. The finding runs contrary to other predictions estimating that supplies of this important metal would run out in around 30 years.
Biomaterials are susceptible to microbial colonization, which is why silver is often added to reduce the adhesion rate of bacteria. However, a recent study by researchers in Portugal suggests that—in one material—increasing levels of silver may indirectly promote bacterial adhesion instead of decrease it.
Hydrogenation is a chemical process used in a wide range of industrial applications, from food products to petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals. The process typically involves the use of heavy metals, such as palladium or platinum, which, though efficient, are expensive and can be toxic. However, researchers have discovered way to use iron as a catalyst for hydrogenation.