Somany Ceramics Ltd. says improved sales resulted in net profit of Rs 10.14 crore ($1.88 million) for the quarter ended March 31, 2013, a year-on-year increase of 19.85 percent. The tile manufacturer’s net sales also rose to Rs 333.71 crore ($61.8 million) for the quarter, compared with Rs 275.86 crore ($51.1) in the year ago period. Net sales for the year rose to Rs 1,046.24 crore ($193.8 million) versus Rs 870.36 crore ($161.2 million) for the last fiscal year. Somany recently acquired a 26 percent stake in two tile producers that increased its annual production capacity of vitrified tiles from 5.3 million to 9.1 million square meters.
The UK-based company Ceram will be holding a free breakfast forum “Re-Engineering Materials—Reduce Waste, Ensure Future Raw Materials Supply and Save Money,” on Friday, June 14 at its headquarters in Penkhull, Stoke-on-Trent. The forum will focus on how raw material shortages and ensuing market price increases are accelerating the need to re-engineer both “waste” and scarce materials in order to meet future industry demands. Andrew Bloodworth, science director for minerals and waste at British Geological Survey, a world-leading geoscience center, will give an independent view on future raw material supply issues. The forum will run from 8:00-11:15 am and include a buffet breakfast, presentations, Q&A session, breakout session with discussion, and networking opportunities.
APC International is pleased to offer custom shear mode piezo half-rings. Shear mode piezo half-rings are poled around the circumference of the ring. Epoxy silver electrodes are then applied to the top and bottom surfaces of the ring or to the outer and inner diameters of the ring. Alternative electrode materials will be considered upon customer request. Shear mode half-rings can be manufactured from APC 850, APC 855, APC 840, APC 841, and APC 880 materials. If desired, APC’s skilled in-house assembly team can bond two shear mode half-rings using a conductive epoxy to create a shear cylinder. Why consider a shear mode piezo half-ring? Sensing applications: Piezoelectric ceramics poled in shear mode are approximately 20 percent more sensitive than piezoelectric ceramics poled in the standard 3-direction. Piezo motor applications: By bonding two shear mode piezo half-rings together with a conductive epoxy the user can easily create a piezo motor that moves in a circular motion.
AVX Corp., a leading manufacturer of advanced passive components and interconnect solutions, has introduced the smallest thin-film 10W 3dB directional couplers available in today’s market. Based on AVX’s proven thin-film technology, the new 0603 3dB 90° couplers exhibit excellent high-frequency performance in ranges spanning 800-6,000MHz and are currently unique in their ability to provide 10W continuous power handling. “Although designed for use in a wide variety of wireless communications applications, the power handling capabilities, expansive frequency range, and miniature size of our new thin-film 10W 3dB couplers makes them especially attractive for portable communications devices, as this particular market segment continues to demand smaller and smaller components in order to keep pace with consumers’ demands for the smallest and sleekest portable technology available,” says Larry Eisenberger, senior marketing application engineer at AVX. Utilizing land grid array (LGA) packaging technology, AVX’s new 10W 3dB directional couplers feature an inherently low profile, low parasitics, excellent solderability, and improved heat dissipation in addition to self-alignment during reflow. Surface mountable and RoHS compliant, the DB0603N couplers also feature low loss, high isolation, and rugged construction for reliable automatic assembly.
From medical engineering to mechanical engineering to automotive industry applications—for years piezo-ceramic actuators have been an integral part of a broad range of applications and have proven their effectiveness millions of times over. The only problem: the actuator’s vulnerability to high humidity and the associated reduction in its durability. CeramTec has now succeeded in developing piezo-ceramic actuators with hermetically sealed protection that also offer outstanding long-term stability. This opens up a world of exciting new possibilities in industry and technology. CeramTec piezo-ceramic actuators are made from hundreds of layers of lead zirconate titanate (PZT) films and exhibit a charge separation when subjected to the deformation process by an external force. With a speed of up to 0.1 milliseconds, they can react very quickly while simultaneously exerting a force of one to two kilonewtons. Conventional piezo-ceramic actuators are protected by a polymer or ceramic coating. However, micro fissures may form during operation, allowing water molecules to come into contact with the piezoceramic. The stray current that arises as a result of this process reduces the performance capability of the actuator and can even destroy it.
Deltech has announced that its control systems is now ETL certified by Intertek. Intertek certifies that Deltech furnace control systems conform to UL508A standards. Standard safety features of Deltech control systems include an emergency stop, door interlock, a safety relay, and isolation switches. Intertek’s ETL Listed Mark is proof of product compliance to North American electrical safety standards. Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s) in 50 states and Canada accept the ETL Listed Mark as proof of compliance.
The Edward Orton Jr. Ceramic Foundation has announced that its introduction to refractories course is now full. The three-day refractory ceramics short course is scheduled for June 24-26. Foundation officials say that anyone who would like to be added to the wait list and notified when the next course will be held should please contact group.
It is with profound sadness that we inform you of the passing Haldor Frederik Axel Topsøe, founder of Haldor Topsøe A/S. Topsøe was born on May 24, 1913, and passed away on May 20, 2013, shortly before his 100th birthday, after a brief period of illness. Topsøe will be greatly missed by his entire family and by the company’s employees. He remained actively involved in the daily operations of the company as working chair of the board until a few weeks before his death. During his long life, Haldor Topsøe made significant contributions to the world in terms of technological and scientific innovation to address global challenges within energy, food supply, and the environment. Topsøe has created a truly unique company, a world leader in the field of catalysis, which is instrumental in solving these issues. Henrik Topsøe, his son and vice chair, says,” We have lost the inspiring and loving head of our family—just as science and business have lost a brilliant leader, and the larger world has lost a great man. Due to his perseverance and dedication, and his technological and scientific contributions, my father improved the lives of millions. He has set standards within many fields, and he never stopped pushing the technological boundaries.”
University of Manchester and National University of Singapore researchers have shown how building multi-layered heterostructures in a three-dimensional stack can produce an exciting physical phenomenon exploring new electronic devices. The breakthrough, published in Science, could lead to electric energy that runs entire buildings generated by sunlight absorbed by its exposed walls; the energy can be used at will to change the transparency and reflectivity of fixtures and windows depending on environmental conditions, such as temperature and brightness. Collectively, such 2D crystals demonstrate a vast range of superlative properties: from conductive to insulating, from opaque to transparent. Every new layer in these stacks adds exciting new functions, so the heterostructures are ideal for creating novel, multifunctional devices. The Manchester and Singapore researchers expanded the functionality of these heterostructures to optoelectronics and photonics. By combining graphene with monolayers of transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDC), the researchers were able to created extremely sensitive and efficient photovoltaic devices. Such devices could potentially be used as ultrasensitive photodetectors or very efficient solar cells. In these devices, layers of TMDC were sandwiched between two layers of graphene, combining the exciting properties of both 2D crystals. TMDC layers act as very efficient light absorbers and graphene as a transparent conductive layer. This allows for further integration of such photovoltaic devices into more complex, more multifunctional heterostructures.
A shattered windshield has a story to tell. The key to hearing it is counting the cracks. The number of cracks that emerge in a plate of glass or Plexiglas relates to the speed of the object that broke it, researchers demonstrate in Physical Review Letters. This simple relationship could prove useful for forensic scientists, archaeologists and even astronomers. Over the past century, most research into cracks has focused on parameters that determine whether a material remains intact when struck. Nicolas Vandenberghe and his colleagues at Aix-Marseille University in France decided to try something different: They wanted to push glass and other materials past their breaking points and study the resulting fractures. They wondered if they could connect the patterns of cracks to the properties of the impact that created them, something no one had done before, Vandenberghe says. So he and his team set up a shooting gallery. Knowing that cracks emerge within a matter of microseconds of impact, Vandenberghe employed a high-speed camera to capture the instant of collision. The photographic evidence revealed a clear connection: After taking into account the type of material and its thickness, the number of cracks doubled for every fourfold increase in the ball’s speed. For example, a 70-kph pellet caused an average of four cracks in 1-millimeter-thick Plexiglas plates, while a 280-kph one made eight.
Though they be but little, they are fierce. The most powerful batteries on the planet are only a few millimeters in size, yet they pack such a punch that a driver could use a cellphone powered by these batteries to jump-start a dead car battery—and then recharge the phone in the blink of an eye. Developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the new microbatteries out-power even the best supercapacitors and could drive new applications in radio communications and compact electronics. “This is a whole new way to think about batteries,” says William P. King, a Bliss Professor of mechanical science and engineering. “A battery can deliver far more power than anybody ever thought. In recent decades, electronics have gotten small. The thinking parts of computers have gotten small. And the battery has lagged far behind. This is a microtechnology that could change all of that. Now the power source is as high-performance as the rest of it.” With currently available power sources, users have had to choose between power and energy. For applications that need a lot of power, like broadcasting a radio signal over a long distance, capacitors can release energy very quickly but can only store a small amount. For applications that need a lot of energy, like playing a radio for a long time, fuel cells and batteries can hold a lot of energy but release it or recharge slowly.
Professor Jeremy Kilburn (vice-principal for science and engineering) and Professor Martin Dove (director) launched the new Materials Research Institute at Queen Mary, University of London, on April 15, 2013. The afternoon consisted of talks from Queen Mary academics and internationally-acclaimed experts, who presented recent developments in the area of materials research. The talks were followed by a reception held in the Queens’ Building Senior Common Room, and provided an opportunity for informal discussion and networking. The launch was a success, which received excellent feedback from visitors and colleagues.
In Kanpur, India, Defense Materials and Stores Research and Development (DMSRDE), a unit of Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), has been working in frontier area of non-matellic materials. To celebrate DRDO Technology Day, DMSRDE organised an open house for the students to show their products and technologies abilities. Around 500 students, along with their teachers from different schools, came to DMSRDE on this occasion to see the exhibition. The students therein saw different defense-related product, such as bullet proof jackets, coils used in the bofors gun, camouflage and stealth materials etc. DMSRDE is working in very important area of material development for high temperature structural applications. It has developed capabilities to produce the polycorbosilane precursor materials which are used in production of silicon carbide based strategic products. This material in turn can also be converted to high heat resistance silicon carbide fibers for composite development which have enormous applications in defence, atomic energy, and aerospace industries. It can withstand temperature between 1,500–2,000°C. These materials were displayed in the exhibition.
The possible future restrictions to the supply of critical materials have been the subject of debate for several years. In response to these an international consortium has been brought together to develop new solutions to the European requirement for rare earth metals. Remanence is an ambitious program designed to dramatically increase the amount of rare earth materials recovered and remanufactured from existing waste streams. The project brings together European industry and academia across the supply chain to develop the innovative technologies, business models and market information required to exploit this valuable resource reducing dependence on primary sources. The partners will develop new and innovative processes for the recovery and recycling of neodymium iron boron magnets (NdFeB) from a range of waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE). Advanced sensing and mechanical separation techniques will be developed in combination with innovative processes to recover the rare earth magnets in the WEEE. Remanence brings together Europe’s leading experts in sensing, disassembly, recycling technology and materials processing in a multi-disciplinary project able to deliver significant technical advances. C-Tech Innovation Ltd will lead a consortium including University of Birmingham, Stena Technoworld AB, ACREO Swedish ICT AB, Leitat Technological Centre, OptiSort AB, Chalmers Industriteknik, Magneti Ljubljana and Kolektor Magnet Technology GMBH.
(MIT Technology Review) A new generation of engines being developed by the world’s largest jet engine maker, CFM (a partnership between GE and Snecma of France), will allow aircraft to use about 15 percent less fuel-enough to save about $1 million per year per airplane and significantly reduce carbon emissions. The first of these new engine, called LEAP, will feature a technology that has never been used in a large-scale production jet engines before: ceramic composite materials that weigh far less than the metal alloys they’ll replace and can endure far higher temperatures. The engine will also make use of parts produced through 3D printing, a new kind of manufacturing that can produce complex shapes that would be difficult or impossible to make with conventional manufacturing techniques. These technologies could eventually be used to make more parts of the engine, leading to further advances in efficiency, says Gareth Richards, LEAP program manager for GE Aviation.
When Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was 25 years old he wrote a theme and 12 variations piece called, “Ah, vous dirai-je Maman.” (The traditional French tune is widely recognized in the English-speaking world as “Twinkle, twinkle little star.”) The simple structure of the melody gave the composer the freedom and structure to explore the music and see how much he could get the melody to give. Joseph DuBose, on classicalconnect.com writes,
The French tune is stated in simple two-part harmony, allowing ample room for Mozart’s imagination to run free. Throughout each of the succeeding twelve variations, the harmony is enriched through the introduction of suspensions and chromatic chords. The variations also maintain the tune’s twenty-four-measure structure. In some, the melody itself is embellished, such as Variations I or III; in others, the tune is set against an embellished countermelody, such as Variation II or VI.
When you hear the piece (or better yet, watch it), you can almost hear Mozart thinking, “What happens if I let the left hand show off? What about the right? What if I tiptoe around the melody? How does it sound with both hands pounding and trilling?”
The feature article in the March issue of the Journal of the American Ceramic Society brought this piece of music to mind. The article is a review titled, “Optical properties of (oxy)nitride materials: A review,” by Rong-Jun Xie and Hubertus T. Hintzen. The reviewers focus only on the optical properties because, as the authors say in the paper, “The optical properties of these (oxy)nitrides, in conjunction with their excellent mechanical strength, thermal properties, and chemical stability, enable (oxy)nitrides to be used in a variety of industrial fields… .”
Nitrogen is parked between carbon and oxygen on the Periodic Table, so some nitrides have characteristics similar to carbides, while some behave more like oxides. The authors identify two categories of nitrides compounds based on bonding character: transition-metal nitrides and ionic-covalent nitrides. The authors describe the nature of the bonding thus:
Nitrogen is interstitial in the metal atom arrangement in transition-metal nitrides in which the metal-metal bonds are dominant. On the other hand, nitrogen-(non)metal bonds are common in ionic-covalent nitrides, and (non)metals are interstitial in a nitrogen array.
This means that transition-metal nitrides have crystal structures and properties that are similar to carbides. Exploring compositions across the transition-metal series of the Periodic Table is like letting the piano left hand show off. Compounds can be refractory (TiN, ZrN, TaN), magnetic (FeN, CoN, CrN, MnN), superconducting (NbN, MoN, HfN), or catalytic (Ta3N5, TaON, TiO2-xNx).
The ionic-covalent family of nitrides behaves more like oxides (see what the right hand can do!). These compounds offer interesting properties such as ionic conductivity (Li3N), thermomechanical (Si3N4, BN), optoelectronic (GaN, InAlGaN, AlN, BN), and luminescence (α-sialon, β-sialon, M2Si5N8, CaAlSiN3).
The properties of oxynitride compounds change depending on the oxygen-to-nitrogen ratio. The authors say, “The chemical and physical properties of (oxy)nitrides are greatly connected with the composition of materials, typically the O/N ratio.” They continue, “Even at a doping level, the incorporation of nitrogen into an oxidic framework will make changes in the properties.”
This means that optical properties can be tuned in variety of materials for a wide range of applications, similar to the subtle interplay and balance between the lower registers and upper registers of the piano keyboard.
The review begins with brief definitions of key optical properties: refraction, reflection, absorption, transmission, scattering, and luminescence. In depth consideration is giving for both types of (oxy)nitride compounds to the antireflection and solar selectivity properties of thin films, band gap and absorption edge properties, photoluminescence, and transmittance. As always with ceramics, processing matters, and the authors include process influences along with their discussion on crystal structure and chemical composition.
The range of applications for (oxy)nitride materials is vast. Applications for the transition-metal (oxy)nitride group include antireflection coatings; heat mirror coatings for energy efficient architectural windows, aircraft, solar collectors, and lighting; mid- and high-temperature solar absorbers for water heating, space heating and cooling refrigeration, industrial process heat, desalination, solar thermal power systems; photocatalysis for water splitting, water and atmospheric purification, antifouling, demisting, and deodorizing. An interesting application is as eco-friendly pigments. The colorful transition-metal oxynitride compounds, such as (Ca,La)Ta(O,N)3, could replace heavy-metal based pigments.
Applications for the ionic-covalent (oxy)nitride group includes armor (see, for example, the article on AlON in the March 2013 issue of the ACerS Bulletin); transparent windows, plates, domes, etc.; semiconductor devices; solid-state LED lighting for general illumination, vehicle headlamps, liquid crystal display backlighting; and field-emission displays. When compounded with rare earths, these oxynitrides may find applications as ecological pigments, too.
The variations on the theme of optical properties of (oxy)nitride materials appear to be infinite.
The paper is “Optical properties of (oxy)nitride materials: A review,” by Rong-Jun Xie and Hubertus T. (Bert) Hintzen, JACerS. (doi:10.111/jace/12197).
As always, ACerS members have free access to JACerS and ACerS other two journals, the International Journal of Applied Ceramic Technology and the International Journal of Applied Glass Science. Full access, 24/7 is only one membership enrollment away!
Thermo-Calc Software AB announced the release of Thermo-Calc 3.0, which constitutes the third generation of its popular computational thermodynamics software. Thermo-Calc is a powerful software package used to perform thermodynamic and phase diagram calculations for multi-component systems of practical importance. Calculations are based on thermodynamic databases produced using the CALPHAD method. Databases are available for Steels, Ti-, Al-, Mg-, Ni-alloys, multi-component oxides and many other materials. ”Our main ambitions for this new version of Thermo-Calc have been to unify the two earlier versions of Thermo-Calc (i.e. Thermo-Calc Classic and Thermo-Calc Windows) into one application, and to create a framework that is suitable for future extension with additional modules and functionality that will integrate more closely with our other software tools such as DICTRA and TC-PRISMA,” says Anders Engström, CEO of Thermo-Calc Software AB.
When Ghrepower, a Shanghai-based manufacturer of small and medium-size wind turbines, decided to set up a subsidiary in Swansea, Wales, in 2011 to tap into the British wind turbine market, it did not realize how much of an impact it would make on the local community. One thing of great help to Ghrepower was the GO Wales Work Placements scheme, created to help Welsh graduates find work. Graduates participating in the scheme work at companies located in Wales for between six to 10 weeks, during which time the Welsh government contributes up to 100 pounds. When the placement period ends, the employers can offer the workers long-term jobs if they wish to. “We expanded overseas because the wind turbine market in China is restricted by China’s immature smart grid system, which is the infrastructure essential for delivering energy generated from wind farms to people’s homes,” Deng says. “As our products are manufactured in China, we have certain cost advantages. For example, a crucial material for the wind turbines battery is a magnet, which in turn relies on rare earth materials. As China produces rare earths, we have a cost advantage,” he says. At the same time, Deng points out that some of its extra functions single it out from its competitors. For example, the wind turbines’ propeller blades can change shape in response to the amount of wind available. “This technology is common for large scale wind turbines, but quite rare for small and medium-scale turbines, and makes us unique.
Cabot Corp. completed an expansion project at its fumed silica facility in Barry, Wales. Production capacity at the site has been increased by 25 percent. The expansion is part of a three-year plan started in 2011 to increase Cabot’s global fumed metal oxide capacity by 35-40 percent. This expansion project is an extension of Cabot’s long-term relationship with Dow Corning. Furthermore, the increased production capacity supports Cabot’s growth in the rising global silicones market. This market is poised to grow at 6-9 percent per year over the coming decade. Through the expansion project, Cabot can now use a wider range of silane raw materials to make a broader portfolio of products to meet silicones and other market needs. Cabot and Dow Corning have worked closely together in Barry since 1991, when Cabot built its fumed silica facility adjacent to Dow Corning’s silicone monomer plant. As part of a highly interdependent and collaborative “fence-line” relationship, Dow Corning provides Cabot with silanes that are converted to fumed silica for Dow Corning’s compounded silicones applications, as well as for other customers and applications including electronics, adhesives, and composites.
Orbite Aluminae Inc. and Veolia Environmental Services signed an exclusive worldwide collaborative agreement for the treatment and recycling of red mud generated by industrial alumina production using the Bayer process. The terms of the partnership include the construction of the first plant to treat red mud using Orbite’s patented process. Red mud often remains stored in situ, which increases the risk of accidental spills. To meet this environmental and complex challenge facing the aluminum industry, Orbite and Veolia Environmental Services endeavour to bring the solution to treat the red mud stockpiled around the world in an economically and socially sustainable manner. These technologies allow for the extraction of smelter-grade alumina and high-purity alumina, as well as other products such as rare earths and rare metals, from various feedstocks including aluminous clay and bauxite, all without producing red mud. Veolia Environmental Services is the only worldwide integrated operator covering the entire value chain of waste management (collection, sanitation, treatment and recovery).
Sacmi has recently added to its long list of innovations for the sanitaryware sector with the introduction of a new brand, Reco2. The machine technical specifications allow for very considerable savings, minimization of energy consumption and reduction of polluting emissions. Sacmi’s system solutions which provide pre-drying stations enabling the energy consumption of the production line to be further reduced while, at the same time, improving health and safety in the workplace. With Sacmi’s plants customers can count on a reduction in production cycle times of 40%, in storage space requirements of 30% and in total energy costs of the complete pre-drying and drying process of up to 50%. Furthermore, the presence in glazing booths of innovative dry filters provides for the elimination of waste water and, therefore, treatment costs.
PPG Industries has launched the PPG Glass Education Center, a comprehensive website to help architects, specifiers, students, and construction industry professionals learn more about designing, specifying and building with glass. Divided into three sections—glass topics, glass FAQs and glossary—the PPG Glass Education Center features a compelling mix of videos, colorful illustrations and educational features that address issues such as preventing thermal glass breakage, specifying IGUs, how low-e glass works, and how heat-treated glass differs from heat-strengthened glass. The Glass Education Center is not designed as a promotional or marketing tool. The site’s existing content is based on the most frequently asked questions PPG fields on its website, during sales calls and through its call center, and new educational material will be added continually. In addition to hosting five short videos (3 to 6 minutes each), the Glass Education Center contains an extensive glossary of industry terms and nearly two dozen frequently asked questions covering low-e glass, glass safety issues and more. Six more videos will be added to the site before July, along with content driven by architects’ questions and input.
Scientists from the Nano-Science Center at the Niels Bohr Institute, Denmark, and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, have shown that a single GaAs nanowire can concentrate the sunlight up to 15 times of the normal sun light intensity. These results demonstrate the great potential of development of nanowire-based solar cells, says Peter Krogstrup on the surprising discovery that is described in the journal Nature Photonics. In recent years, the research groups have studied how to develop and improve the quality of the nanowire crystals. It turns out that the nanowires naturally concentrate the sun’s rays into a very small area in the crystal by up to a factor 15. Because the diameter of a nanowire crystal is smaller than the wavelength of the light coming from the sun, it can cause resonances in the intensity of light in and around nanowires. Thus, the resonances can give a concentrated sunlight, where the energy is converted, which can be used to give a higher conversion efficiency. The typical efficiency limit—the so-called “Shockley-Queisser Limit”—is a limit, which for many years has been a landmark for solar cells efficiency among researchers, but now it seems that it may be increased.
Two €3.8 million research projects in materials science and spintronics have been initiated at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the University of Kaiserslautern. The two new projects, STeP and TT-DINEMA, are designed to help speed up the process of conversion to marketable procedures and products. The purpose of the Spintronic Technology Platform in Rhineland-Palatinate (STeP) is to promote the sustained build-up of technical competencies and to support regional companies working in the spintronics sector. The platform has been specifically designed to bolster research into and the development of magnetic coating systems, which are particularly suitable for use in products such as sensors and memory storage units. At the core of the research being undertaken by STeP are so-called Heusler materials. The objective is to develop “building block systems” that can then be flexibly adapted to meet the wide range of different functional and technological challenges. The aim of the TT-DINEMA project is to establish an internationally competitive and independent service center that can provide original new material concepts. It represents the starting point for innovative development projects in various fields of applications, ranging from solar technology through medical technology to thermoelectrics, and is likely to be of particular benefit to small and medium-sized companies. Again, Heusler compounds are at the focus of attention concerning the applied materials. In addition to their broad application potential, these materials are also interesting from the commercial point of view because of their low cost, sustainability, environmental friendliness, and ease of processing.
Sandia National Laboratories reveals the breadth of its hydrogen fuel expertise in the recently published Hydrogen Storage Technology—Materials and Applications. Sandia researcher Lennie Klebanoff is confident that the book’s content will give readers a sense of urgency about the need to get zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road, and to get other hydrogen-based power equipment into the marketplace. Klebanoff, who serves as the book’s editor and cowrote half the chapters, knows his topic well. He was director of the Metal Hydride Center of Excellence, one of three DOE Hydrogen Storage Centers of Excellence dedicated to solving the problem of storing hydrogen on automobiles. This Center, competitively selected and funded through DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, included 21 partners from industry, academia, and national laboratories from 2005 through 2010. Klebanoff himself said storage isn’t the technical hurdle some believe it to be. “We actually make the argument that storage is not a huge barrier,” he says. “All of the major car manufacturers have produced hydrogen vehicles, and they can all run for at least 240 miles, and in one case, even up to 430 miles.” He acknowledged that the research community must work harder to meet the government and industry consumer vehicle target of at least 300 miles across a range of vehicle types and sizes. “However, there is no technical hydrogen storage barrier preventing the roll-out of the first hydrogen-powered vehicles today,” Klebanoff asserts.
Spintronic devices are almost exclusively fabricated out of n-type semiconductors as opposed to p-type semiconductors, which may seem surprising since both electrons and holes have spin. The reason is that holes have been assumed to be unable to preserve their spin polarization over distances longer than a few tens of nanometers. This perspective is changing, as several recent experiments have shown that hole spins in p-type silicon can be polarized and retain their polarization for a surprisingly long time. However, experiments that directly probe the spin of the holes as they travel through the material have been lacking. Eiji Shikoh at Osaka University, Japan, and colleagues have now performed such an experiment. Writing in Physical Review Letters, Shikoh et al. use a new approach to show that holes in p-type silicon can preserve spin-based information and transport it over distances much longer than previously thought. Taken together, the new work and the previous experiments support the view that spin transport is realistic in p-type semiconductors. This opens the door to developing spintronic devices and circuits that exploit the unique features of p-type semiconductors and their combination with n-type materials.
(Laser Focus World) To package temperature-sensitive glass/glass and glass/ceramics components, especially those with large substrate surfaces to be sealed, a laser-based joining process that uses glass solder is becoming more and more significant. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT) is developing the appropriate irradiation strategies and processing heads to achieve this. The advantage of the laser-based joining process is that the laser beam is able to apply energy to a limited space in order to melt the glass solder precisely, thus generating a bond with long-term, stable hermeticity. In laser-based glass soldering, the laser beam is guided over the workpiece and applies the energy solely into the glass solder itself to melt it. One radiation approach for this is quasi-simultaneous laser soldering, but it is technically restricted by the maximum processing field size of the focusing optics, and is also limited, from an economic point of view, by the laser power required. In ILT’s new approach is “contour soldering with energy input adapted laterally to feed movement” that enables large substrates to be joined at significantly lower laser power. For contour soldering, continuous-beam sources run at a power of less than 100 W, independent of the substrate sizes to be joined.
Researchers at NIST have developed a new microscope able to view and measure an important but elusive property of the nanoscale magnets used in an advanced, experimental form of digital memory. The new instrument already has demonstrated its utility with initial results that suggest how to limit power consumption in future computer memories. NIST’s heterodyne magneto-optic microwave microscope, or H-MOMM, can measure collective dynamics of the electrons’ spins-the basic phenomenon behind magnetism-in individual magnets as small as 100 nanometers in diameter. “The measurement technique is entirely novel, the capability that it has enabled is unprecedented, and the scientific results are groundbreaking,” project leader Tom Silva says. As described in a new paper, NIST researchers used the H-MOMM to quantify, for the first time, the spin relaxation process-or damping-in individual nanomagnets. Spin relaxation is related to how much energy is required to switch a unit of spintronic memory between a 0 and a 1. The nanomagnets used in experimental spintronic systems are too big to yield their secrets to conventional atomic physics tools yet too small for techniques used with bulk materials. Until now, researchers have been forced to measure the average damping from groups of nanomagnets. The new microscope enabled NIST researchers to study, in detail, the ups and downs of spin excitation in individual magnets made of a layer of a nickel-iron alloy on a sapphire base.
Have you ever thrown into the fire—even if you shouldn’t have—an empty packet of crisps? The outcome is striking: the plastic shrivels and bends into itself, until it turns into a small crumpled and blackened ball. This phenomenon is explained by the tendency of materials to pick up their original features in the presence of the right stimulus. Hence, this usually happens when heating materials that were originally shaped at high temperatures and cooled afterwards. EPFL researchers realized that this phenomenon occurred to ultrathin quartz tubes (capillary tubes) under the beam of a scanning electron microscope. “This is not the original microscope’s purpose. The temperature increase is explained by an accumulation of electrons in the glass. Electrons accumulate because glass is a non-conductive material,” explains Lorentz Steinbock, researcher at the Laboratory of Nanoscale Biology and co-author of a paper on this subject published in Nano Letters. As the glass shrinks, it can be seen live on the microscope screen. “It’s like a glass-blower. Thanks to the possibilities provided by the new microscope at EPFL’s Center of Micronanotechnology, the operator can adjust the microscope’s voltage and electric field strength while observing the tube’s reaction. Thus, the person operating the microscope can very precisely control the shape he wants to give to the glass”, says Aleksandra Radenovic, tenure-track assistant professor in charge of the laboratory. At the end of this process, the capillary tube’s ends are perfectly controllable in diameter, ranging from 200 nanometers to fully closed.