I’ve known for some time that glass–ceramic products can be machined, but I actually have never seen it done, so seeing that process and what tools have to be used, what depth of cuts are possible, etc., is what interested me in the above video that Morgan Technical Ceramics recently put online. (Be patient; the juiciest details are in the second half of the under-four-minute video.)
MTC has been promoting its advanced machining capabilities using Corning Macor glass-ceramic, a product the company touts for its mechanical strength as well as its “high dielectric strength, electrical resistivity and ability to withstand high temperature while providing tight tolerance capability.”
Some of the applications mentioned by MTC for machined Macor are ultrahigh or constant vacuum environments, aerospace and nuclear applications, high-heat electrical cutting operations. A number of health equipment-related uses are also mentioned, such as “complex ceramic assemblies for surgical tools, medical instrumentation, and therapeutic and diagnostic equipment.”
Back to the machining of the glass–ceramic, without the use of diamond cutting tools, MTC says it can deliver tolerances +/- 0.0005 inches. The company also says it can machine the Macor to a surface finish of less than 20 micron inches and polished to a smoothness of 0.5 micron inches-roughness average.
• University of Sheffield researchers have shown that glass could be a better method for long-term storage, transport and disposal of intermediate level nuclear waste. ILW makes up more than three quarters of the volume of material destined for geological disposal in the UK (One of the present preferred methods is to encapsulate ILW in specially-formulated cement). Studies have found that turning this kind of waste into glass could be a better method for its eventual disposal. HLW is already processed using vitrification. Until now, this method has not been considered suitable for ILW because the technology was not developed to handle large quantities of waste composed from a variety of different materials.
• Joint stock company Polotsk-Steklovolokno, a maker of glass fiber and glass fiber products in Belarus, is informing the market about the termination of maintenance procedures and a start-up of the glass melting furnace No.3 which will allow the company to meet customers’ demands of products to the maximum extent.
• West Africa Zircon (SL) Ltd. is presently engaged in mining and processing of zircon ore in Lungi, Kaffu-Bullom Chiefdom, Port Loko District, and Pampana, Kolifa Rowala Chiefdom in the Tonkolili District, Northern Province of Sierra Leone. In conformity with the Sierra Leone Environmental Protection Agency Act 2008 and the supplementary EPA Act 2010, West Africa Zircon (SL) Ltd.’s project needs to be planned and implemented in a manner that minimizes potential negative environmental and social impacts and accentuates positive impacts. This is expected to be achieved through the ESIA Process that CEMMATS Group Ltd was contracted to undertake. The ESIA report to the Environmental Protection Agency-Sierra Leone will be presented to the affected and/or interested stakeholders during public disclosure sessions for discussion.
This is a bit of a surprise, and I have no idea how this will fully reverberate through the scientific and technical communities, but Japan and France apparently have made major decisions to back away from a reliance on nuclear power, and in the case of the former, move to embrace renewables on a much larger scale.
Nuclear power, obviously, has been a touchy subject in Japan ever since the Fukushima Daiichi mess. Reuters now reports that Japan, which once produced 10 percent of the world’s total nuclear power, will shut down all of its plants by 2040. If I understand the proposal correctly, no new reactors will be built and all existing reactors will be shut down as they reach the end of their 40-year life span. This apparently means the shutdowns will start in earnest around 2030. The country has about 50 reactors.
Japan can’t unilaterally lose that much energy-generation capacity, so it is also announcing that it is setting a target of making renewables 30 percent of its power portfolio.
On a lesser scale, but perhaps more profoundly because of its unflinching dedication to nuclear power, France is making news with its decision to initiate a big reduction in nuclear power in that nation’s portfolio. Reuters says President Fransois Hollande is pledging to shrink nuclear power from 75 percent of the mix to 50 percent.
To complicate matters, Hollande is also calling for the European Union to slash CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and 60 percent by 2040.
Previously, Italy, Switzerland and Germany also pledged to end their reliance on nuclear power by various dates. Germany has set the cutoff for 2022; Italy is aiming at 2034.
Returning to Japan’s policy, the BBC is predicting the decision may trigger a fight within industrial sectors:
The plan faces strong opposition from businesses. Before the nuclear disaster, Japan had wanted to raise its nuclear energy use to 50% by 2030.
“There is no way we can accept this—I cannot think this is technologically possible,” Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of the Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.
Japan’s policy announcement also pledges to cut CO2 emissions by 10 percent from 2010 levels.
Neither country has outlined how the CO2 cuts will be achieved. In the short run, the AFP News Service says the country’s ruling Democratic Party of Japan mentions the use of smart metering, developing resources in nearby waters—presumably gas and oil, plus expanded use of liquefied natural gas and other fossil fuels.
Some developments worth reading about:
Though the concept of high temperature superconductors is more than two decades old, finding and controlling the right materials has been a challenge. Now Yoram Dagan of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Physics and Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology has discovered an innovative way to manipulate superconducting materials. By manipulating different types of light, including UV and visible light, Dagan and his fellow researchers are able to alter the critical temperatures of superconducting materials. This finding adds to a growing toolbox for controlling and improving the technology. The research has been published in Angewandte Chemie and featured in Nature Nanotechnology. In the lab, they put a thin layer, one organic molecule thick, atop a superconducting film, approximately 50 nanometers thick. When researchers shined a light on these molecules, the molecules stretched and changed shape, altering the properties of the superconducting film-most importantly, altering the critical temperature at which the material acted as a superconductor. The researchers tested three separate molecules. The first was able to increase the critical temperature of the superconducting film. With the second molecule, they found that shining an ultraviolet light heightened the material’s critical temperature, while visible light lowered it. Finally, with the third molecule, they found that simply by turning a light on, critical temperature was raised-and lowered again when the light was switched off.
Researchers have created a new type of biosensor that can detect minute concentrations of glucose in saliva, tears and urine and might be manufactured at low cost because it does not require many processing steps to produce. “Most sensors typically measure glucose in blood,” says Jonathan Claussen, a former Purdue University doctoral student and now a research scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory. “Many in the literature aren’t able to detect glucose in tears and the saliva. What’s unique is that we can sense in all four different human serums: the saliva, blood, tears and urine. And that hasn’t been shown before.” The sensor has three main parts: layers of graphene nanosheets resembling tiny rose petals; platinum nanoparticles; and the enzyme glucose oxidase. Each petal contains a few layers of stacked graphene. The edges of the petals have dangling, incomplete chemical bonds, defects where platinum nanoparticles can attach. Electrodes are formed by combining the nanosheet petals and platinum nanoparticles. Then the glucose oxidase attaches to the platinum nanoparticles. The enzyme converts glucose to peroxide, which generates a signal on the electrode. “The good thing about these petals is that they can be grown on just about any surface, and we don’t need to use any of these steps, so it could be ideal for commercialization,” says Purdue doctoral student Anurag Kumar.
Fueling nuclear reactors with uranium harvested from the ocean could become more feasible because of a material developed by a team led by the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Lab. The combination of ORNL’s high-capacity reusable adsorbents and a Florida company’s high-surface-area polyethylene fibers creates a material that can rapidly, selectively and economically extract valuable and precious dissolved metals from water. The material, HiCap, vastly outperforms today’s best adsorbents, which perform surface retention of solid or gas molecules, atoms or ions. HiCap also effectively removes toxic metals from water, according to results verified by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Lab. “We have shown that our adsorbents can extract five- to seven-times more uranium at uptake rates seven-times faster than the world’s best adsorbents,” says Chris Janke, one of the inventors and a member of ORNL’s Materials Science and Technology Division. ”Our HiCap adsorbents are made by subjecting high-surface area polyethylene fibers to ionizing radiation, then reacting these pre-irradiated fibers with chemical compounds that have a high affinity for selected metals.” After the processing, scientists can place HiCap adsorbents in water containing the targeted material, which is quickly and preferentially trapped. Scientists then remove the adsorbents from the water and the metals are readily extracted using a simple acid elution method. The adsorbent can then be regenerated and reused after being conditioned with potassium hydroxide. Results were presented today at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia.
(EE Times) MC10, a Cambridge, Mass., startup specializing in flexible electronics, has signed a one year contract with the Army to develop and test solar cell technology for military use. The technology will take the form of wearable solar panels built into military personnel’s clothing to power up America’s GIs, while decreasing the number of battery packs lugged around. MC10 specializes in re-engineering rigid electronics into flexible forms and has made significant strides in creating human vital stat sensors which have been successfully applied to surgical patients and athletes alike. The sensors are typically a 1-inch flexible patch that tracks temperature, heart rate and hydration. For the necessary flexibility required for solar powered clothing, MC10 uses flexible microgrids of solar cells, connected by gold ribbon wrapped in a soft conducting polymer. The wearable solar cells harness the power of gallium arsenide, the light harvesting metal compound built into high-efficiency solar panels found on rooftops.
A new class of organic materials developed at Northwestern University boasts a very attractive but elusive property: ferroelectricity. The crystalline materials also have a great memory, which could be very useful in computer and cellphone memory applications, including cloud computing. A team of organic chemists discovered they could create very long crystals with desirable properties using just two small organic molecules that are extremely attracted to each other. The attraction between the two molecules causes them to self assemble into an ordered network, order that is needed for a material to be ferroelectric. The starting compounds are simple and inexpensive, making the lightweight materials scalable and very promising for technology applications. In contrast, conventional ferroelectric materials—special varieties of polymers and ceramics—are complex and expensive to produce. The Northwestern materials can be made quickly and are very versatile. The study is published in the journal Nature. These new supramolecular materials derive their properties from the specific interaction, repeated over and over again between two small alternating organic molecules, not from the molecules themselves. The two complementary molecules interact electronically and so strongly that they come close together and form very long crystals. This highly ordered 3D network is based on hydrogen bonds.
A team of scientists led by Carnegie Institution for Science’s Lin Wang has observed a new form of very hard carbon clusters, which are unusual in their mix of crystalline and disordered structure. The material is capable of indenting diamond. This finding has potential applications for a range of mechanical, electronic, and electrochemical uses. The work is published in Science. Wang’s team started with carbon-60 cages. An organic xylene solvent was put into the spaces between the balls and formed a new structure. They then applied pressure to this combination of carbon cages and solvent, to see how it changed under different stresses. At relatively low pressure, the carbon-60’s cage structure remained. But, as the pressure increased, the cage structures started to collapse into more amorphous carbon clusters. However, the amorphous clusters still occupy their original sites, forming a lattice structure. The team discovered that there is a narrow window of pressure, about 320,000 times the normal atmosphere, under which this new structured carbon is created and does not bounce back to the cage structure when pressure is removed. This material was capable of indenting the diamond anvil used in creating the high-pressure conditions. If the solvent used to prepare the new form of carbon is removed by heat treatment, the material loses its lattice periodicity, indicating that the solvent is crucial for maintaining the chemical transition that underlies the new structure. Because there are many similar solvents, it is theoretically possible that an array of similar, but slightly different, carbon lattices could be created using this pressure method.
It looks like worry over the FY’13 budget is growing to a national scale. Since posting the previous story, the Washington Post published a story about a report from the Congressional Budget Office predicting the possibility of a new, deep recession. The first two paragraphs of the article set up the sobering story.
The nation would be plunged into a deep recession during the first half of next year if Congress fails to avert nearly $500 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts set to hit in January, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday.
The massive round of New Year’s belt-tightening—variously known as the fiscal cliff or Taxmageddon—would disrupt recent economic progress, push the unemployment rate back up to 9.1 percent by the end of 2013 and cause economic conditions “that will probably be considered a recession,” the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said.
I made the point in my previous story that there will still be innovation, manufacturing and progress. There will be survivors of if a new economic storm does strike. And, if a downturn hits, there will even be some who thrive by capitalizing on unexpected opportunities.
Information—who, where, how, what—is your antenna to spotting opportunities and finding the critical path to success. Tough economic times are unforgiving, and you have to be smart about how you navigate the rough times.
A primary mission of The American Ceramic Society is to provide the resources you need to be one of the survivors, even a “thriver,” especially as things get bumpy. The Society has been a leader in that regard as one of the founding partner societies of the Materials Science and Technology conference, which also includes the Society’s Annual Meeting. This year MS&T will be Oct. 7–11—just as FY’13 opens—and will be in Pittsburgh, Pa.
In times of economic uncertainty, there are many things that are out of one’s control, but it is always smart to try improve the odds. Events such as MS&T are an intelligence and networking bonanza, and investing in attending is can be one of the smartest moves to make in the months ahead! The early-bird registration rate expires on Sept. 11, so sign up soon to save $175 on the attendance fee.
Here is a brief summary of programming and short courses at the conference, with a focus on programming directly related to ceramic science. It turns out that fully 40 percent of the symposia are directly related to ceramic materials or work being done by ACerS members. I’ve captured snippet descriptions to give you flavor of what’s in store.
Symposia topical areas
Biomaterials - five symposia
“Recent advances in nanomanufacturing have resulted in new, and in some cases radically different, materials and devices. Because they are scalable, some of these new techniques promise low cost, mass-production of nanomaterials and devices.”
• Bioinspired Materials Engineering
• Nanomaterials and Nanodevices
• Next Generation Biomaterials
• Recent Advances in Laser Fabrication and Characterization Methods: Laser Processing of Biomedical Materials
• Surface Properties of Biomaterials III
Ceramic and Glass Materials - eight symposia
“Monolithic ceramics are brittle and show catastrophic failure. In contrast, ceramic composites are strong, tough and demonstrate graceful failure under loading and show promise for many advanced applications at room and elevated temperatures.”
• Ceramic Matrix Composites
• Glass and Optical Materials
• Innovative Processing and Synthesis of Ceramics, Glasses and Composites
• International Symposium on Defects, Transport and Related Phenomena
• Multifunctional Oxides
• Novel Sintering Processes and News in Conventional Sintering and Grain Growth
Electronic and Magnetic - five symposia
“The symposium covers the recent developments of material design, material preparation, properties, manufacturing issues, cost reduction etc. applicable to dielectric materials and electronic circuits.”
• Advances in Dielectric Materials and Electronic Devices
• Controlled Synthesis, Processing, and Applications of Structural and Functional Nanomaterials
• Magnetoelectric Multiferroic Thin Films and Multilayers
• Pb-Free Solders and Next Generation Interconnects
• Semiconductor Heterostructures: Theory, Growth, Characterization, and Device Applications
Energy Issues- five symposia
“While nuclear energy might provide a solution to the increasing demand for electricity, global warming, air pollution, and dependence on imported oil, the increasing inventories of nuclear waste pose a significant challenge to safety and the environment by setting high expectations for the performance of the materials used in nuclear waste management.”
• Energy Conversion - Photovoltaic, Concentrating Solar Power and Thermoelectric
• Energy Storage: Materials, Systems and Applications
• Materials Development for Nuclear Applications and Extreme Environments
• Materials Issues in Nuclear Waste Management in the 21st Century
• Nanotechnology for Energy, Environment, Healthcare and Industry
Fundamentals and Characterization - nine symposia
“The materials of interest are alloys and ceramics under extreme environment. This symposium aims at bringing out the latest methods and models in macroscale thermal mechanical property predictions based on an evolving microstructure.”
• Failure Analysis and Prevention
• Frontiers of Materials Science: Fundamentals of Porous Materials from Development to Applications
• Fundamental Understanding of High-Entropy Alloy Formation and their Properties
• In-situ Characterization of Phase Transformations in Materials
• Integrated Computational Materials Engineering: The Customer’s Point of View
• Microstructure Based Property Prediction and Small Scale Experimental Validation
• Multi Scale Modeling of Microstructure Deformation in Material Processing
• Phase Stability, Diffusion, Kinetics and their Applications (PSDK-VII)
• Quantification of Texture and Microstructure Gradients in Polycrystalline Materials
Iron and Steel - four symposia
“The relationships between casting, inclusion control, rolling and cooling practices, thermal and thermo-mechanical processing, and post rolling processing on the mechanical and physical properties of finished products are particularly relevant.”
• Advances in Zinc-Based Coating Technologies for Steel Sheet
• Recent Developments in High Strength Steels for Energy Applications
• Recent Developments in Steel Processing
• Steel Product Metallurgy and Applications
Materials-Environment Interactions - six symposia
“To get the greatest benefit from materials like ceramics, metals, composites and biomaterials, protecting their surfaces and achieving system multi-functionality are required.”
• Advanced Understanding of the Atmospheric Corrosion of Materials
• Coatings for Corrosion and Wear Resistance Applications
• Corrosion Protection of Aging Infrastructure
• Development of Advanced Alloys and Coating Systems for Demanding Oil and Gas Applications
• Environmentally Assisted Cracking of Materials
• Surface Protection for Enhanced Materials Performance: Science, Technology and Applications
Materials Performance - nine symposia
“High temperature, structural ceramics and ceramic composites are enabling materials for hypersonic flight, advanced efficient turbine engines, and various energy systems. There is a need to understand the damage mechanisms that limit the performance of these materials in extreme environments, to develop the capability for high fidelity modeling of their response, and to invent new material systems and new processing, synthesis, and implementation strategies.”
• Beyond Nickel-Base Superalloys–II
• Boron, Boron Compounds, and Boron Nanomaterials: Structure, Properties, Processing and Applications
• Functional and Innovative Composites
• Materials, Structures and System Design for Extreme Environments in Aerospace and Energy Applications
• Multifunctional Materials for Aerospace and Defense: Challenges and Prospects
• Novel Methods for Deformation Testing of Metals and Materials
• Recent Advances in Phase Transformations and Structural Evolution in Titanium and its Alloys
• Symposium on the Fatigue of Materials II: Advances and Emergences in Understanding
• Titanium Alloys for Demanding Applications
Process and Product Manufacturing - seven symposia
“Sustainable development is globally recognized as a key issue for future growth and well being of society. Therefore, “green” or environmentally benign technologies have been a major focus of study by materials scientists and engineers worldwide.”
• Additive Manufacturing of Metals
• Advanced Materials, Processes, and Applications for Additive Manufacturing
• Advances in Metal Casting Technologies
• Design of Forming Processes and Tooling in Transforming Materials
• Green Technologies for Materials Manufacturing and Processing IV
• Joining of Advanced and Specialty Materials (JASM XIV)
• Powder Metallurgy Processing and Products
Special Topics - eight symposia (Only ACerS listed)
“The Richard M. Fulrath Award honorably promotes technical and personal friendships between Japanese and American professional ceramic engineers/scientists and encourages understanding among the diverse cultures surrounding the Pacific Rim.”
• Continuous Improvement of Academic Programs (and Satisfying ABET along the Way)—Elizabeth Judson Memorial Symposium
• Richard M. Fulrath Award Session
• Solidification, Crystal Growth and Microstructural Correlation with Properties of Materials: to Celebrate 75th Birthday of Prof. Martin E. Glicksman
Short courses are a great way to jumpstart the competencies of yourself and your staff. ACerS has four lined up for the weekend as MS&T winds down.
Focused Ion Beams and Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry
Nanoscale structure matters, and in this course you will learn how to see it. Find out what these and similar tools can do for your process, quality assurance and product development.
Physical Foundations of Electroceramics for Microelectronics
You carry a pocketful of electroceramics with you in your smartphone and laptop. Materials issues drive what electronics can do and the horizon is full of innovative materials. This course gives you what you need to be part of this exciting industry.
Sintering of Ceramics
Sintering is fundamental to ceramic materials processing, and in many ways, controls final properties. This course is a great introduction to the interplay going on between powders, intergranular phases and heat. Or, if all you need is to dust off what you learned in college, this is the course for you.
Mechanical Properties of Ceramics and Glass
Stuff breaks. It helps to know why, how and when. These two instructors condense their lifetimes of studying fracture and failure into an accessible and useful format.