Archive for May 2012
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Biomedical engineers at UC Davis have developed a microfluidic chip to test for latent tuberculosis. They hope the test will be cheaper, faster and more reliable than current testing for the disease. The researchers used a novel approach: They coated a gold wafer with short pieces of a single-stranded DNA segment known to stick specifically to interferon-gamma. They then mounted the wafer in a chip that has tiny channels for blood samples. If interferon-gamma is present in a blood sample, it sticks to the DNA, triggering an electrical signal that can be read by a clinician. The researchers plan to refine the system so that the microfluidic sensor and electronic readout are integrated on a single chip.
To modify a metal surface at the scale of atoms and molecules-for instance to refine the wiring in computer chips or the reflective silver in optical components-manufacturers shower it with ions. While the process may seem high-tech and precise, the technique has been limited by the lack of understanding of the underlying physics. In a new study, Brown University engineers modeled noble gas ion bombardments with unprecedented richness, providing long-sought insights into how it works. The improved understanding could open the door to new technologies, such as new approaches to make flexible electronics, biocompatible surfaces for medical devices, and more damage-tolerant and radiation-resistant surfaces. The new model revealed how ion bombardments can set three main mechanisms into motion in a matter of trillionths of a second. The researchers dubbed the mechanisms “dual layer formation,” “subway-glide mode growth,” and “adatom island eruption.” They are a consequence of how the incoming ions melt the metal and then how it resolidifies with the ions occasionally trapped inside.
(GigaOm) “A dozen years ago, people couldn’t spell LED,” recalls Steve Lester, the chief technology officer of LED chip developer Bridgelux, in an interview. But “nobody debates the future of (LED lighting) anymore.” For example, earlier this month at Lightfair International, one of the world’s largest lighting tradeshows, Lester recalls that there was only one booth that featured a non-LED product. While LED lighting has caught on for commercial spaces, like spotlighting merchandise and for outdoor use like street lighting, it has yet to make its presence felt inside homes. That’s mainly because of its high, largely double-digit price tag, which leads to a much longer payback period, considering that consumers don’t keep lights on for as long as businesses do. However, despite a slower adoption by consumers, a McKinsey & Co. report last year projected that LED lighting could make up nearly 60 percent of the total lighting market by 2020.
(Tecca, via Rare Metal Blog) Those adventurous enough to get quirky furniture for their homes know that they can add a lot of life and sparkle to an otherwise dreary space. Some people with deft hands and imaginative minds even go as far as to make their own. Take for example 19-year-old reddit user mememetatata, who decided one day that he wanted a floating bed… and actually built one using wood and magnets. It took him roughly a grand to buy the necessary materials: 10 puck-sized neodymium magnets—one of the strongest rare-earth magnet variants—priced at $72 each, and $200 to $300 worth of wood. Five of the magnets went inside a thinner, upper wooden panel, and were positioned to repel similar poles of the other five magnets inside a larger base, effectively creating a floating bed.
The administration today announced a $26 million multi-agency Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to foster innovation-fueled job creation through public-private partnerships. These coordinated investments will help catalyze and leverage private capital, build an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and promote cluster-based development in regions across the United States. This is the third round of the Jobs Accelerator competition, which is being funded by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, NIST, DDE, Department of Labor, the Small Business Administration and the National Science Foundation.
DOE Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman announced in Fayetteville, Arkansas, $11 million in innovative research and technology grants of up to $150,000 to nearly 70 small businesses nationwide. He also highlighted that over the past year, the agency supported $8 billion in contracts to over 7,000 small businesses. Poneman made the announcements during a tour of Arkansas Power Electronics International, which develops state-of-the-art technology in power storage systems for electric vehicles and other clean energy technologies.
Do you know thatCrystalToolkit has recently been updated to perform spacegroup determination? Now, you can upload a POSCAR or cif of a structure with an unknown spacegroup into CrystalToolkit and the spacegroup will be displayed along with the crystal. This facility works whether the input structure is ordered or disordered. The spacegroup determination capabilities in the Materials Project is built on the excellent spglib written by Atsushi Togo. This code has also been incorporated in the latest version of pymatgen (v1.9.0) and a SymmetryFinder wrapper has been built to allow spglib to work seamlessly with pymatgen’s Structure objects.
• When Cardinal Tempered Glass, a subsidiary of Cardinal Glass Corp., laid off 33 employees last month in Chehalis, the plant manager blamed the cuts on the Chinese for dumping solar panels into the United States market at a below fair value price. Now, the US has announced the imposition of antidumping tariffs of 31 percent or more on solar panels imported from China.
• IFGL Refractories Ltd., a Kolkata, India-based refractory supplier to steel plants, may rope in a technology partner in its ailing Brazilian outfit, Monotec Refractarios Ltd. Also on the cards is an infusion of fresh capital to widen the subsidiary’s product range to enhance its presence in the Brazilian market.
• The Russian Magnezit Group installs flow control analyzers of raw materials chemical composition at its production sites. They guarantee high quality sorting оf magnesite by grades and at the same time increase of high quality magnesite recovery. Growth of high quality raw materials recovery will amount to 15-20 percent.
University of Buffalo researchers have developed a graphene-based coatings that acts as an active and passive corrosion prevention barrier and can be applied using standard, off-the-shelf industrial tools. Credit: University of Buffalo; You Tube.
As ceramic engineers and scientists, it pains us to admit that there is an unwelcome member of the family—iron oxide, or rust. And like an unpleasant family member, rust is disruptive at best but more often destructive, nearly impossible to control and gets a lot of resources thrown at it to try to control it.
It’s a big problem that can be quantified in dollars and cents. A report issued last year by the National Academies Press, “Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering,” estimates that “premature materials degradation costs industrialized nations approximately 3 percent of their gross domestic product.” In the United States that translates to losses caused by corrosion in the neighborhood of $2-4 trillion each decade. That number is so big, it is hard to grasp. According to the report, it is about equivalent to the cost of repairing the infrastructure damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama— three or four times over!
In this context, University of Buffalo researcher, Sarbajit Banerjee and his graduate student, Robert Dennis, are making strides in this epic battle of good vs. evil with a graphene-based anti-corrosion composite coating.
In an interview, Banerjee told me that the work grew out discussions with industry to develop effective, environmentally friendly corrosion prevention coatings that could be adapted by the existing metal-finishing industry. “Working with industry keeps you on task,” he says, “so there was a big emphasis to develop a coating that could be applied with off-the-shelf equipment like brushes, sprayers, etc.”
The coating is a polyetherimide matrix with a graphene filler dispersion. The polymer is a common industrial polymer, and its role in the coating is to provide adhesion with the steel as well as to provide thermal and chemical stability. Banerjee says it has the additional advantage of blending well with graphene. At present an organic solvent is used, and the group is working on developing a water-soluble formulation.
Banerjee says the coating is effective because of it is both an active and passive coating. “It is passive in that it prevents water ions from reaching the steel,” he explains. “We also think it works as an active coating by setting up a Shottkey barrier that depletes electrons and shuts down the electrochemistry at the interface.”
The researchers are optimistic that the new coating will be an effective replacement for hexavalent chromium corrosion-prevention coatings, which have been linked to cancer-causing pollution. Banerjee hopes that many of the western New York electroplating shops will be able to retool to use a graphene-based coating.
He noted that the Brookings Institute recently provided data that the metal-finishing sector has been growing and experiencing job growth rates of about 10 percent. “Even if the steel is made somewhere else,” he says, “the finishing work must be done closer to onsite.”
“Our product can be made to work with the existing hardware of many factories that specialize in chrome electroplating, including job shops in Western New York that grew around [the former] Bethlehem Steel. This could give factories a chance to reinvent themselves in a healthy way in a regulatory environment that is growing increasingly harsh when it comes to chromium pollution” Banerjee said in a press release.
Banerjee’s work is supported by Tata Steel and the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (a partnership among Rochester Institute of Technology, Clarkson University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University at Buffalo and the 10 NYS Regional Technology Development Centers). UB has filed an application for a provisional patent on the coatings.
The group plans to evaluate the coating’s effectiveness on other metals and against other corrosion mechanisms. “We want to find out how general of a coating it is. We will probably have to tailor it by including other components,” Banerjee says. That could include adding self-healing components, he says, which would add some “cure” with the “prevention.”
Supercomputers were used to simulate exhaust temperature fluctuations in a scramjet engine operating at hypersonic velocities. Credit: Stanford University; YouTube.
There is a lot of work exciting work being done on developing materials for hypersonic vehicles, such as the DARPA Falcon HTV-2. The cover story of the January-February issue of the Bulletin described work on UHTC composites being done in the UK at Imperial College and Loughborough University. We’ve also kept track of other UHTC materials development work here.
As we report on these high-temperature, high-performance materials, though, we tend to gloss over the details of the aerodynamics that are the source of the extreme environment. We know it’s a severe environment, but a new computer simulation video out of Stanford University shows just how violent the fluid mechanics are that are generated at hypersonic velocities.
This computer-generated simulation by Stanford’s professor Parviz Moin shows the flow of air and fuel through the hypersonic vehicle propulsion systems known as scramjet engines. He explains in the video that this simulation is the result of massive calculations run simultaneously on 163,000 processors. Moin is the director of the Stanford Predictive Science Academic Alliance Program, which enjoys a collaboration that gains them access to supercomputer resources at national labs at Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia.
A story on Stanford’s website goes into some detail about the computer science side of the problems associated with massive calculations for these types of simulations, such as the need for a new computer language that can run complex simulations: “That need will only increase over the next decade as supercomputers move toward the exascale—computers with a million or more processors able to execute a quintillion calculations in a single second.” The issue of model validation, by experiment and error propagation, are discussed briefly, too.
This simulation does not show what is happening on the leading edges of the hypersonic vehicle, where the UHTCs are, but it is a compelling demonstration of the harshness of the hypersonic environment.
Two simultaneous events have made Germany the epicenter of the ceramics industry this week.
The 10th International Symposium on Ceramic Materials and Components for Energy and Environmental Applications (CMCEE) took place in Dresden, Germany, and Munich was host to the week-long Ceramitec 2012 trade fair.
CMCEE and Ceramitec, in recognition of the intimate connection between research, innovation and manufacturing, organized a joint “Technical Ceramics Day,” where the last day of CMCEE was held at the Ceramitec site. The program focused on research close to industrial concerns, with targeted sessions, such as Raw Materials and Equipment, Energy Efficiency, Ceramic Components for Energy and Environment, and Networks.
Ceramitec organizers were expecting over 600 exhibitors, including ACerS and the American Association of Ceramic Component Manufacturers, a partner organization with ACerS.
In case you were not among the 15,000 visitors to Ceramitec, you can see some of the exhibitors this July in Chicago at the 4th International Congress on Ceramics.
Morgan Technical Ceramics is the exclusive sponsor of the Ceramic Leadership Summit Track at ICC4 and had a big booth at Ceramitec. Zircoa, a familiar company to the ceramics industry, was also there.Spahr says a highlight of his visit to CMCEE was a side trip with Wicks and several others to the Fraunhofer IKTS facility, hosted by CMCEE chair, Alex Michaelis and “his great staff.” Regular CTT readers know that we follow the work being done at the Frauenhofer Institutes and frequently tell you about their latest research.
Finally, Spahr was delighted to be there for the announcement that ACerS will be the host society for CMCEE 2015 in Vancouver, BC. The conference will be led by Jay Singh, with Alex Michaelis and Tatsuki Ohji serving as cochairs.