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Honeywell has completed the delivery of advanced ballistic materials that will be used in the development of next-generation combat helmets for the Army. Honeywell has delivered 218 helmets containing advanced Spectra Shield and Gold Shield ballistic materials that the Army will evaluate to help set new helmet performance requirements. The helmets are designed to be 16 to 24 percent lighter than the helmets US soldiers currently wear, and provide increased ballistic and non-ballistic performance against handgun rounds and fragments from improvised explosive devices. Spectra Shield is manufactured using Honeywell’s proprietary shield technology, which bonds parallel strands of Spectra fiber with an advanced resin system. Spectra fiber is made from ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene using a patented gel-spinning process. The fiber exhibits high resistance to chemicals, water and ultraviolet light, and has excellent vibration damping, flex fatigue and internal fiber-friction characteristics. The fiber also has as much as 60 percent greater specific strength than aramid fiber.
DOE announced $500,000 is available this year to test the technical readiness of technologies that can harness energy from waves to supply clean, renewable power to highly-populated coastal regions. The funding will support one project to deploy and test a wave energy conversion device for one year at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu. The Energy Department estimates that there are over 1,170 terawatt hours per year of electric generation available from wave energy off US coasts, although not all of this resource potential can realistically be developed. For comparison, the US uses 4,000 terawatt hours of electricity each year. The Navy has supported wave energy conversion research with the expectation that this technology can be used to assist DOD in reaching its agency goal of producing or procuring 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
A pioneering study at the University of Buffalo to gauge the toxicity of quantum dots in primates has found the tiny crystals to be safe over a one-year period, a hopeful outcome for doctors and scientists seeking new ways to battle diseases like cancer through nanomedicine. The research, which appeared on online, is likely the first to test the safety of quantum dots in primates. In the study, scientists found that four rhesus monkeys injected with cadmium-selenide quantum dots remained in normal health over 90 days. Blood and biochemical markers stayed in typical ranges, and major organs developed no abnormalities. The animals didn’t lose weight. Two monkeys observed for an additional year also showed no signs of illness. The authors caution, however, that more research is needed to determine the nanocrystals’ long-term effects in primates; most of the potentially toxic cadmium from the quantum dots stayed in the liver, spleen and kidneys of the animals studied over the 90-day period. The cadmium build-up, in particular, is a serious concern that warrants further investigation, says Ken-Tye Yong, a Nanyang Technological University assistant professor.
Something strange is taking shape at the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center this summer. Investigate the world of materials science in the Exploreum’s new special exhibition, “Strange Matter,” which opens May 26, and runs through Sept. 3 in downtown Mobile. “Strange Matter,” presented by the Materials Research Society,” lets visitors catch a glimpse of where the future of materials research might take us. Hands-on technologies and interactive experiences reveal the intriguing and remarkable properties and applications of modern materials that appear in such high-tech fields as cardiac surgery and the space program, along with items used in everyday life, according to an Exploreum news release.
The DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University have appointed Pete Beckman, director, Exascale Technology and Computing Institute at Argonne, and Peter W. Voorhees, Frank C. Engelhart Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern, as codirectors of the Northwestern-Argonne Institute for Science and Engineering. The institute, established last year, brings together top scientists and engineers-Northwestern faculty and students and Argonne researchers to collaboratively attack key problems in energy, nanoscience and advanced scientific computing. Last week, Argonne Director Eric D. Isaacs announced plans to expand the institute’s collaborative efforts to include significant emphasis on cutting-edge materials research in support of President Barack Obama’s Materials Genome Initiative. One aim of the collaborations is to strengthen Chicago’s regional “innovation ecosystem” by linking experts in every aspect of advanced materials science and providing them with direct access to the world’s most advanced tools for materials discovery and characterization.
(Technology Review) This month, Japan shut down the last of its 54 nuclear reactors. When and if any of those reactors are to be restarted is uncertain. One thing is for sure, though: as long as it is without nuclear power, Japan will be almost completely dependent on imported fossil fuels. Japan has the third most nuclear generating capacity in the world, behind the US and France. Just before the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, nuclear power was the source of just under 30 percent of the country’s electricity. Hydropower and other renewable power sources accounted for less than 10 percent. The rest came from fossil fuels-the vast majority of which came from foreign nations, since Japan has few fossil-fuel resources of its own.
Kansas State University researchers have come closer to solving an old challenge of producing graphene quantum dots of controlled shape and size at large densities, which could revolutionize electronics and optoelectronics. Vikas Berry, William H. Honstead professor of chemical engineering, has developed a novel process that uses a diamond knife to cleave graphite into graphite nanoblocks, which are precursors for graphene quantum dots. These nanoblocks are then exfoliated to produce ultrasmall sheets of carbon atoms of controlled shape and size. By controlling the size and shape, the researchers can control graphene’s properties over a wide range for varied applications, such as solar cells, electronics, optical dyes, biomarkers, composites and particulate systems.