A bio-art project has given Utah State researcher Randy Lewis more reason to hope his genetically engineered spider silk can be used to help surgeons heal large wounds and create artificial tendons and ligaments.
The editors of R&D Magazine have opened the nominations for the 2012 R&D 100 Awards competition, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the awards. If your organization introduced a new product this year, or is planning to, you can begin the entry process now.
Engineers and physicians at Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medical College have collaborated on the development of a biologically-based spinal implant that relies on two different forms of polymer, collagen and hydrogel.
Dense protein masses called amyloids are normally associated with Alzheimer’s and other disease. They typically are thought of as proteins that have failed to form precisely folded shapes. But materials researchers are taking inspiration from the physical characteristics of these bundles to theorize new, tough synthetic polymers.
Researchers at Brandeis University have recently presented the first example of a simple microscopic system that self-organizes to produce cilia-like beating patterns. Abandoning the top-down approach to studying cilia-like structures, they found that simple components like microtubule filaments can spontaneously organize and beat in a periodic manner.
Chemists at the University of Connecticut have perfected an inexpensive method for creating quick-changing, variable colors in films and displays, such as sunglasses. Typically, self-tinting lenses are equipped with a photochromic film, but the new technology uses an electrochromic mixture of polymers that react electrically when triggered by light.
In 2009, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the quality of infrastructure in the U.S. a grade of "D", partly because evaluation and maintenance of structures was not up to par. Civil engineers at MIT, working with physicists in Germany, have invented an inexpensive flexible skin-like fabric with electrical properties that can be attached to concrete structures. The skin would sense cracks as they appear.
Rigoberto “Gobet” Advincula, a polymer chemist, says he and his colleagues at the Univ. of Houston have developed two different materials that are both equally effective against E. coli. The first is a graphene material that shows promise as an antimicrobial, and the second is a conducting polymer that can repel the potentially deadly bacteria.
Because of its outstanding performance characteristics, polycarbonate resin is widely used to manufacture parts used in a myriad of industries. Now Bayer MaterialScience offering 2-D and 3-D solutions that offer greater scratch resistance for polycarbonate parts.
Plastic may compete with paper in the grocery line, but it doesn’t have to compete with the world’s food supply, according to Univ. of Florida researchers. They've developed a way to produce plastic that doesn't use valuable natural resources, such as food or fuel, for raw materials. The new method uses a strain of bacteria to create bioplastic from discarded plant material, such as yard waste.
Iowa State Univ.'s Malika Jeffries-EL says she's studying doing structure-property studies so she can teach old polymers new tricks. Those tricks improve the properties of certain organic polymers that mimic the properties of traditional inorganic semiconductors and could make the polymers very useful in organic solar cells, light-emitting diodes, and thin-film transistors.
Proprietary zinc finger technologies from biotechnology giant Sigma-Aldrich have been licensed by Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, which plans to back further R&D efforts and potentially commercialize the silk polymers in textile and biomedical fields.
Aldrich Materials Science, a technology offshoot of Sigma-Aldrich, this week announced the start of a collaboration with Agfa Materials to expand their offering of Orgacon conductive polymers for use in high technology applications. The material is geared toward use in applications requiring high conductivity, such as tandem junction solar cells.
Scientists led by Carnegie Mellon Univ. chemist Krzysztof Matyjaszewski are using electricity from a battery to drive atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP), a widely used method of creating industrial plastics. The environmentally friendly approach represents a breakthrough in the level of control scientists can achieve over the ATRP process, which will allow for the creation of even more complex and specialized materials.
In 1997, the U. S Food and Drug Administration banned the decades-old practice of feeding meat and bone meal to livestock. To find a use for the nine billion pounds of now-useless protein meal, researchers have come up with a new process that uses the waste to create bioplastic.
A company in Japan has pioneered a new method for producing carbon fiber reinforced plastic that saves considerable time over previous methods. New intermediate materials made of thermoplastic resin instead of conventional thermosetting resin allow manufacturers to mold an automobile cabin frame in under 60 seconds instead of the typical five minutes.
A Duke Univ. team has seen for the first time how soft polymers, such as wire insulation, can break down under exposure to electrical current.
A research team has shown that some recently developed bulk metallic glasses (BMGs)—metal alloys that have randomly arranged atoms as opposed to the orderly, crystalline structure found in ordinary metals—can be blow molded like plastics into complex shapes that can't be achieved using regular metal, yet without sacrificing the strength or durability that metal affords.
Chemists in China have discovered an environmentally friendly way to make an indispensable industrial material, acrylic acid, without the need for increasingly expensive propylene obtained from petroleum. The new solution, detailed in a paper publicly available at American Chemical Society, involves an efficient conversion of lactic acid.
Biobent Polymers, a division of Univenture, Maryville, Ohio, recently launched the Panacea line of eco-friendly materials, designed as a drop in replacement for standard bulk polymers.
Until now, fusing two transparent plastic components together by laser welding has been impossible. Researchers in Germany have cleared this hurdle by choosing the right wavelength: 1700 nm. The process is still limited, but the benefits to lab-on-a-chip technology should be substantial.
The water-repellent eyes of moths are among the least reflective surfaces in nature. A team of Japanese researchers have emulated the film that covers a moth’s eye and applied it to photovoltaic cells in Tokyo and Phoenix, Arizona. They found a 5-6% improvement in cell performance.
Krzysztof Matyjaszewski and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon Univ. and Kyushu Univ. in Japan have built a polymer that repairs itself again and again when irradiated with UV light. It’s the first-ever material to feature capped covalent bonds that repeatedly reattach, allowing even fully separated pieces to be fused back together.
Researchers from Rice Univ. and Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) have broken one of the major roadblocks on the path to growing transplantable tissue in the lab: They've found a way to grow the blood vessels and capillaries needed to keep tissues alive.
A research team at Syracuse Univ. has applied the concept of functionally graded materials to shape memory polymers. The polymers have previously been limited to two-way and three-way shape configurations. In the new process, sections of one shape memory polymer independently react to different temperature stimuli.