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Topological insulators (TIs) are an exciting new type of material that on their surface carry electric current, but within their bulk, act as insulators. Since the discovery of TIs about a decade ago, their unique characteristics (which point to potential applications in quantum computing) have been explored theoretically, and in the last five years, experimentally. But where in theory, the bulk of TIs carry no current, in the laboratory, impurities and disorder in real materials mean that the bulk is, in fact, conductive. This has proven an obstacle to experimentation with TIs: findings from prior experiments designed to test the surface conductivity of TIs unavoidably included contributions from the surplus of electrons in the bulk. Now an interdisciplinary research team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in collaboration with researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Department, has measured superconductive surface states in TIs where the bulk charge carriers were successfully depleted. To deplete the electrons in the bulk, the team used three strategies: the TI material was doped with antimony, then it was doped at the surface with a chemical with strong electron affinity, and finally an electrostatic gate was used to apply voltage that lowered the energy of the entire system.
The University of Dayton Research Institute will benefit from the first round of applied research and development project awards the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute announced in a few weeks ago. Rapid Prototype + Manufacturing LLC of Avon Lake, Ohio, was awarded $1 million for “Maturation of Fused Deposition Modeling Component Manufacturing,” and will contract with UD’s Research Institute for $575,000 for technology support and education. Other partners in the program, designed to resolve issues that have inhibited the transition to manufacturing of Fused Deposition Modeling, a popular thermoplastic-based additive process, include Stratasys of Eden Prairie, Minn., as well as aerospace companies Boeing, GE Aviation, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. “This program allows us to pool resources and leverage highly developed composites industry design practices to mature FDM manufacturing for aerospace and defense applications,” says Brian Rice, head of the Research Institute’s Multi-Scale Composites and Polymers Division. “UDRI’s role will be to analyze material properties and define how to design and certify parts manufactured for aerospace applications.” In July 2012, UDRI received $3 million from the Ohio Third Frontier to work with Stratasys, RP+M and additional partners to develop aircraft-engine components through additive manufacturing —also known as 3D printing—for several aerospace manufacturers.
Eliminating the defects at the interface separating two crystals, or grains, has been shown by nanotechnology experts to be a powerful strategy for making materials stronger, more easily molded, and less electrically resistant-or a host of other qualities sought by designers and manufacturers. Since 2004, when a seminal paper came out in Science, materials scientists have been excited about one special of arrangement of atoms in metals and other materials called a “coherent twin boundary” or CTB. Based on theory and experiment, these coherent twin boundaries are often described as “perfect,” appearing like a perfectly flat, one-atom-thick plane in computer models and electron microscope images. But new research now shows that coherent twin boundaries are not so perfect after all. A team of scientists at the University of Vermont’s College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and elsewhere report that coherent twin boundaries found in copper “are inherently defective.” With a high-resolution electron microscope, using a more powerful technique than has ever been used to examine these boundaries, they found tiny kink-like steps and curvatures in what had previously been observed as perfect. Even more surprising, these kinks and other defects appear to be the cause of the coherent twin boundary’s strength and other desirable qualities. “Everything we have learned on these materials in the past 10 years will have to be revisited with this new information,” says UVM engineer Frederic Sansoz.
The DOE’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office has issued a request for information seeking feedback from interested stakeholders regarding the use of rotating disk electrode (RDE) experiments and best practices for experimental conditions for characterization of the activity and durability of proton exchange membrane fuel cell oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) electrocatalysts. A review of recent literature shows that the determination of the ORR activity has numerous intricacies that have not been systemically cataloged, resulting in values for the activity of Pt/C that vary significantly. Next steps will be to establish standard procedures and measurement parameters for the RDE technique so that novel catalysts can be benchmarked for ORR activity versus an accepted Pt/C baseline for polymer electrolyte fuel cell applications. DOE is specifically interested in information on best practices/protocols to enable consistency in procedures and less variability in results from different laboratories.
In a process comparable to squeezing an elephant through a pinhole, researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have designed a way to engineer atoms capable of funneling light through ultra-small channels. Their research is the latest in a series of recent findings related to how light and matter interact at the atomic scale, and it is the first to demonstrate that the material—a specially designed “meta-atom” of gold and silicon oxide—can transmit light through a wide bandwidth and at a speed approaching infinity. The meta-atoms’ broadband capability could lead to advances in optical devices, which currently rely on a single frequency to transmit light, the researchers say. ”These meta-atoms can be integrated as building blocks for unconventional optical components with exotic electromagnetic properties over a wide frequency range,” write Jie Gao and Xiaodong Yang, assistant professors of mechanical engineering at Missouri S&T, and Lei Sun, a visiting scholar at the university. The researchers created mathematical models of the meta-atom, a material 100 nanometers wide and 25 nanometers tall that combined gold and silicon oxide in stairstep fashion. In their simulations, the researchers stacked 10 of the meta-atoms, then shot light through them at various frequencies. They found that when light encountered the material in a range between 540 terahertz and 590 terahertz, it “stretched” into a nearly straight line and achieved an “effective permittivity” known as epsilon-near-zero. Effective permittivity refers to the ratio of light’s speed through air to its speed as it passes through a material. As light passes through the engineered meta-atoms described by Gao and Yang, however, its effective permittivity reaches a near-zero ratio. In other words, through the medium of these specially designed materials, light actually travels faster than the speed of light. It travels “infinitely fast” through this medium, Yang says.
Acting Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman announced that DOE is awarding 88 grants to small businesses in 28 states to develop clean energy technologies with a strong potential for commercialization and job creation. These awards, totaling over $16 million in investments, will help small businesses with promising ideas that could improve manufacturing processes, boost the efficiency of buildings, reduce reliance on foreign oil, and generate electricity from renewable sources. Companies competing for these grants were encouraged to propose outside-the-box innovations to meet ambitious cost and performance targets. The small businesses receiving the awards are located in 28 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. Companies competing for these grants were encouraged to propose outside-the-box innovations to meet ambitious cost and performance targets. The selections are for Phase I and Fast Track (combined Phase I and II) work. That means that the new projects will go toward exploring the feasibility of innovative concepts that could be developed into prototype technologies. Seventy-nine awards will go to SBIR projects, and another nine will go to STTR projects.
University of Delaware materials science professors Darrin Pochan and Kristi Kiick are taking a new approach to building new nanomaterials from biomolecules—namely peptides and proteins—that could increase the efficiency of photovoltaics, and other electronic devices. “Peptides and polypeptides offer unlimited potential in designing new materials that can uniquely address limitations in current electronic devices,” Kiick notes. This is because proteins can be engineered to display chemically reactive groups at desired positions. By constructing a nanomaterial with proteins, researchers can subsequently add inorganic nanoparticles that will “stick” to the nanomaterial surface in targeted locations. If successful, Pochan says the project could offer manufacturers a “dirt simple” processing and materials technique for creating a structured, protein-based backing that could be applied to photovoltaic devices to improve their efficiency. It may also create new opportunities to work with colleagues in energy disciplines - particularly those at UD - to test and refine the materials process. “Normal semiconductor manufacturing processes are extremely difficult and expensive at this small of a length scale, making this research area very important,” Pochan says.
Scientists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Germany have created a new synthetic hybrid material with a mineral content of almost 90%, yet extremely flexible. They imitated the structural elements found in most sea sponges and recreated the sponge spicules using the natural mineral calcium carbonate and a protein of the sponge. Natural minerals are usually very hard and prickly, as fragile as porcelain. Amazingly, the synthetic spicules are superior to their natural counterparts in terms of flexibility, exhibiting a rubber-like flexibility. The synthetic spicules can, for example, easily be U-shaped without breaking or showing any signs of fracture. This highly unusual characteristic is mainly due to the part of organic substances in the new hybrid material. It is about ten times as much as in natural spicules. The synthetic spicules were made from calcite and silicatein-α. The synthetic material was self-assembled from an amorphous calcium carbonate intermediate and silicatein and subsequently aged to the final crystalline material. After six months, the synthetic spicules consisted of calcite nanocrystals aligned in a brick wall fashion with the protein embedded like cement in the boundaries between the calcite nanocrystals. The spicules were of 10 to 300 micrometers in length with a diameter of 5 to 10 micrometers.
(Oil & Gas Journal) Technological breakthroughs in the last few years have significantly improved the US energy situation, but more needs to be done, US President Barack Obama said on Mar. 15. He specifically called for creation of an Energy Security Trust to develop and deploy transportation alternatives that would be funded by federal crude oil leasing revenue. He acknowledged, as he did in his Feb. 12 State of the Union address, that the idea came from Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), which is committed to protecting US national and economic security by combating domestic dependence on oil for transportation fuels.
(Technology Review) Taking advantage of recent advances in flexible electronics, researchers have devised a way to “print” devices directly onto the skin so people can wear them for an extended period while performing normal daily activities. Such systems could be used to track health and monitor healing near the skin’s surface, as in the case of surgical wounds. So-called “epidermal electronics” were demonstrated previously in research from the lab of John Rogers, a materials scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the devices consist of ultrathin electrodes, electronics, sensors, and wireless power and communication systems. In theory, they could attach to the skin and record and transmit electrophysiological measurements for medical purposes. These early versions of the technology, which were designed to be applied to a thin, soft elastomer backing, were “fine for an office environment,” says Rogers, “but if you wanted to go swimming or take a shower they weren’t able to hold up.” Now, Rogers and his coworkers have figured out how to print the electronics right on the skin, making the device more durable and rugged.
When a crystal is hit by an intense ultrashort light pulse, its atomic structure is set in motion. A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, the Technischen Universität München (TUM), the Fritz-Haber Institute in Berlin (FHI) and the Universität Kassel can now observe how the configuration of electrons and atoms in titanium dioxide, a semiconductor, changes under the impact of an ultraviolet laser pulse, confirming that even subtle changes in the electron distribution caused by the excitation can have a considerable impact on the whole crystal structure. Knowledge regarding the interaction between light and solid matter on an atomic scale is still comparable to a map with many blank spots. A new, up to date unknown aspect of the interplay between light and matter has now been examined by a team of scientists using intensive ultraviolet laser pulses with only a few femtoseconds duration. The physicists illuminated a titanium dioxide crystal (consisting of titanium and oxygen atoms) with an intense ultraviolet laser pulse of less than five femtoseconds duration. The laser pulse excites the valence electrons in the crystal and generates a small number of hot electrons with a temperature of several thousand Kelvin. The continuous interplay between the positions of the atomic cores and the valence electrons determines the material characteristics such as electric conductivity, optical properties or the crystal lattice structure.
A twist on thin-film technology may provide a way to optically detect and analyze multiple substances simultaneously, leading to quicker diagnostics in such industries as health care and homeland security, according to Penn State researchers. One current optical-sensing technology can launch and guide a single light wave, called a surface-plasmon-polariton wave—SPP wave—that travels along the flat interface of the sample to be analyzed and a metal film. The SPP wave is launched by sending a light beam through a prism to the other face of the metal film. A photon detector eventually collects the beam that was reflected back into the prism. Any change in the optical properties of the sample critically alters the reflected beam. However, because the technology allows for only one SPP wave of a certain frequency to be guided through the device, the properties of only one substance can be analyzed for each sensor. The researchers designed a thin film that can create additional channels for the SPP waves. This thin film, which is attached to the metal surface, is porous and can be infiltrated by fluids that can later be analyzed. To make more channels for the SPP waves, they slowly rotated the substrate during the fabrication of the thin film, sculpturing it to create nanoscale springs, so that the regions between the springs can be infiltrated.
Useful news and interesting research:
Washington Mills has developed a particle size conversion chart to assist in selecting the correct grit size based on the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Federation of European Producers of Abrasives (FEPA) guidelines for grading and sizing fused minerals. The particle size conversion chart compares millimeters, microns, and inches to sieve sizes and matches them to the corresponding grit size. For convenience, a PDF version is available for download. For questions regarding grit sizes, contact us the company directly at email@example.com or 800-828-1666.
According to a new market report published by Transparency Market Research “Pigments (Organic, Inorganic & Specialty) Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Trends, Growth and Forecast, 2012 - 2018,” the global pigments market revenues are expected to reach USD 14.7 billion in 2018, growing at a CAGR of 4.5% from 2013 to 2018. In terms of volumes, pigments demand is expected to reach 4.4 million tons by 2018. Specialty pigments market is expected to have fastest growth potential among the global pigments market, growing at a CAGR of 5.4% during the analysis period. Availability of large variety of products and ability to encompass high and unique visual effects is primarily fueling the growth of the specialty pigments market. Increasing demand for paints and coatings, particularly from key end-use industries such as construction, is expected to drive demand over the next five years. Fluctuating and volatile prices of key raw materials including benzene and toluene coupled with an increasingly stringent regulatory environment are critical challenges to this industry.
Alta Devices disclosed that it has reached 30.8 percent solar cell efficiency. This new National Renewable Energy Laboratory-verified record resulted from the company’s first implementation of a new generation “dual junction” solar cell technology, which augments the company’s “single junction” technology. Higher efficiency directly translates into more electricity generated from smaller surface areas. Therefore, applying Alta’s highly efficient, very thin and flexible mobile power technology to consumer devices can extend the battery life of everyday products such as smartphones, tablets, keyboards, mouses, remote controls, and more. To help device manufacturers understand the benefits of using Alta’s material on their products, Alta created a calculator to compute the battery life extension for a variety of consumer mobile devices (http://www.altadevices.com/calculator.php). According to the calculator, a typical outdoor worker could realize 80 percent more battery life each day for their mobile phone. Or a student can get over 60 percent more battery life for his or her tablet device. These results can be achieved with minimal weight or form-factor penalty on the device design.
Yoshiaki Oka, professor at Waseda University (Japan), and his research team developed a conceptual nuclear reactor design of high plutonium breeding by light water cooling for the first time. He devised a new fuel assembly where fuel rods are closely packed for reducing reactor coolant to fuel volume fraction for high breeding. With computational analysis he achieved high plutonium breeding with light water cooling. The study will open the way of commercialization of fast reactor and nuclear fuel cycle for nuclear energy based on mature light water cooling technologies. The results from the study were published in January issue of the Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology of Atomic Energy Society of Japan, entitled “Plutonium breeding of light water cooled fast reactors.”
(Technology Review) Taking advantage of recent advances in flexible electronics, researchers have devised a way to “print” devices directly onto the skin so people can wear them for an extended period while performing normal daily activities. Such systems could be used to track health and monitor healing near the skin’s surface, as in the case of surgical wounds. So-called “epidermal electronics” were demonstrated previously in research from the lab of John Rogers, a materials scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the devices consist of ultrathin electrodes, electronics, sensors, and wireless power and communication systems. In theory, they could attach to the skin and record and transmit electrophysiological measurements for medical purposes. During the two weeks that it’s attached, the device can measure things like temperature, strain, and the hydration state of the skin, all of which are useful in tracking general health and wellness. One specific application could be to monitor wound healing: if a doctor or nurse attached the system near a surgical wound before the patient left the hospital, it could take measurements and transmit the information wirelessly to the health-care providers.
Here is what we are hearing:
Asahi Glass Co. will newly set up a chemical strengthening facility for Dragontrail, a specialty glass used as cover glass for smart phones and tablet PCs, at its Kansai Plant in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. This new chemical strengthening facility can handle up to sixth-generation (1850mm x 1500mm) glass, enabling the efficient production of thinner next-generation touchscreens. Operation is scheduled to begin in March 2013. Conventionally, touchscreens of smart phones and tablet PCs have been triple-layered, consisting of a cover glass, a touch sensor and a display. Recently, however, demand for double-layered touchscreens, which can make the touchscreen even thinner, is expected to grow, and a technology to attach the touch sensor into the cover glass is drawing attention as a means to manufacture double-layered touchscreens. A large number of cover glass with built-in touch sensor can be manufactured at a time by neatly arranging touch sensors on a large sheet of chemically strengthened glass and cutting the glass into pieces of the intended size. As the touchscreens manufactured based on this method are increasingly adopted for use in smart phones and tablet PCs in 2013 onward, AGC’s high-quality G6-size chemically strengthened Dragontrail manufactured at the new facility will contribute to the creation of even thinner smart phones, tablet PCs, and other touchscreen devices.
A quest for energy efficiency is driving the next generation of technologies in architectural glazings, glass walls and windows for buildings. A short payback period is key to rapid adoption, and, according to Lux Research, technologies like daylighting glazings and skylights are hitting that mark today, with dynamic glazings not far behind. Technologies like double-pane low-e coated windows and daylighting glazing can have a payback period of two years or less, reaching a tipping point for adoption, says Lux Research. ”Double-pane, noble-gas-filled glazings have paved the way, but an explosion of innovation over the past five years has created a larger technology toolbox for the designer,” says Aditya Ranade, the lead author of the report titled, “Balancing Energy Efficiency, Occupant Comfort, and Aesthetics in Architectural Glass. Lux Research analysts assessed technology developers based on their technical value and maturity, sorting them into four categories: faded incumbents, current winners, future winners and long shots. Among their findings: Daylighting glazings are a short-term winner; dynamic glazings will take more time due to high cost, leading to longer payback times; ”Green” glazings (e.g., building-integrated photovoltaic glazings) are a long-term winner, but long paybacks of 14–15 years make them only a long-term choice. Leading innovators include “future winner” Bisem Inc, which makes curtain walls capable of integrating electrochromic glass, CIGS cells, and daylighting louvers.
GlobalData’s new report, “Dental Biomaterials Market Outlook in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) to 2018,” provides value, volume, and average price data for each segment and subsegment within three market categories: dental bone grafts, bone graft substitutes, and tissue regenerative materials. The report also provides company shares and distribution shares data for the overall dental biomaterials market in each of the aforementioned countries. The report is also supplemented with global corporate-level profiles of the key market participants with information on key developments, wherever available. This report is built using data and information sourced from proprietary databases, primary and secondary research and in-house analysis by GlobalData’s team of industry experts. The emerging economies, comprising China, India, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa, with a significantly large pool of under-served patients, represent the next big opportunity for the leading medical equipment and devices manufacturers.
(International Construction) Cement producer Cemex reported more than a 10 percent increase in operating EBITDA to $2.6 billion as it filed full year financials for 2012. Net sales for the Mexico-based firm reached $15 billion, a decline of 2 percent on a year-over-year basis. Fernando A. González, executive vice president of finance and administration, calls 2012 a year of recovery for Cemex. “During the year, we achieved the highest EBITDA generation and operating EBITDA margin since 2009 and the fourth quarter was the sixth consecutive quarter with a year-over-year EBITDA increase,” he noted. According to Cemex, the infrastructure and residential sectors were the main drivers of demand in most markets.
American Vanadium Corp., a mining company developing its world class Nevada-based vanadium deposit, has entered into a business relationship with Gildemeister energy solutions of Germany—a part of Gildemeister group—which holds a leading position worldwide as a producer of cutting machine tools as well as integrated energy solutions for the production, storage and utilization of renewable energies. American Vanadium and Gildemeister have unveiled their memorandum of understanding to explore various joint venture and partnership arrangements with the objective of being a leading provider of energy storage and micro grid solutions in North America. “We have commercialized a unique energy storage solution with our CellCube, a powerful, durable and low maintenance large scale vanadium redox flow battery that can be incorporated into everyday energy systems. Our battery system ensures a clean, emission-free energy supply at all times, characterized by high reliability, high stability and very fast reaction times,” says Ron MacDonald, executive chair of American Vanadium.
“Illuminating through Ceramics” is the inspiring result of an academic research project launched in 2011 by ASCER/Tile of Spain, the voice of the Spanish tile industry, in partnership with the University of Liverpool School of Architecture, examining the sustainable properties of tiles and aiming to push the boundaries of ceramic application. The research program at the University of Liverpool forms part of the Network of Ceramic Tile Studies Departments sponsored by Tile of Spain around the world. Illuminating through Ceramics showcases the work of MArch students in developing projects to explore our growing preference for natural lighting sources, through a range of materials and technical solutions, and with a special focus on ceramic facades. Thirteen student proposals and five full-scale prototypes, displayed within a light-immersing scenario, propose methods by which ceramics could be transformed into a dynamic interface that transports daylight throughout a building’s skin. “The use of ceramics in contemporary facades offers an interesting combination of thermo-acoustic control and aesthetic properties, but very little has been explored in terms of the potential to maximize the benefits of sunlight,” says program leader Rosa Urbano.
Researchers have developed a model that will, hopefully, help companies develop innovative products that people actually want to use. The model is a first step towards capturing the behavior of both companies and consumers, so that we end up with more iPods and fewer Edsels. This concept may sound obvious, but companies have difficulty grasping it. Companies constantly try to develop new products and services that capture market share. We knew that. Consumers constantly try to evaluate recent innovations to determine whether they’re useful, and how much they’d be willing to pay for them (if at all). We knew that, too. But, to this point, business researchers have attempted to understand these two processes separately: product innovation on one hand, and customer evaluation on the other. Now a team of researchers from NC State, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign and University of Wyoming has developed an integrated model that tries to capture both sides of the equation. Their conceptual model illustrates the interaction of innovation and customer response, which will hopefully help companies adapt their innovation processes to make them more efficient, forward-looking and successful. But, not so fast - there are at least as many questions as answers.
Cabot Corp. announced the launch of LITX G700, the company’s first graphene-based additive for high-energy density lithium-ion battery applications. Using graphene material developed on the basis of a new technology platform, the new additive helps lithium-ion battery manufacturers achieve superior cell performance. Battery developers for applications in electronics and electric vehicles have reached the limit in reducing the loadings of conventional carbon additives. As a result, many are resorting to alternatives such as carbon nanotubes that add significant cost as well as manufacturing challenges. The LITX G700 conductive additive is designed for use in electric vehicle and high-end consumer electronics in which better driving range and longer run times are critical performance features. The new additive can achieve very high energy densities at ultralow loadings. Less loading or volume allocated to conductive additives enables more volume to be available for energy storage materials. As a result, the additive delivers step change performance in conductivity and is easily incorporated into battery electrodes.
Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd., a leading developer of high-efficiency and low-emission power products for homes and other buildings, released its interim financial results for the six months ended Dec. 31, 2012, along with its directors’ report and review of operations. Highlights of the half-year include strong political support in Germany & the UK; North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) introduces a capital subsidy scheme-the Company expects this to reduce the installed cost of a BlueGen unit to commercial customers in NRW by around €10,000; UK government increases the feed-in tariffs applying to mCHP units like BlueGen from December 2012; CFC targets the significant UK social housing market and appoints the energy services company iPower as distribution channel; sales of 90 units completed, 34 percent increase over the equivalent period in 2011; total cumulative orders received exceed 600 units. CFC says investment in marketing is being increased to support projected sales growth in Germany, UK and Benelux.
Background image: Molten glass. Credit: Michael Germann; Dreamstime.com.
Peter and I thought it would be fun to share our five favorite posts from 2012. Finding that choosing only five was nigh impossible, I decided to sort my picks into three categories, which instantly grew my budget to 15 stories!
Advances in science and engineering are subject to forces beyond physics, chemistry, and mathematics, such as politics, culture, history, and more.
USPTO issues flurry of new rules to implement ‘America Invents Act’
Archaic US patent rules were thrown out with adoption of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. New rules, though, mean changes in the strategy of innovation.
Data drives engineering of ceramics; workshop asks ‘how well?’
Computational approaches to materials engineering are only as good as the data they consume and digest. A DOD-sponsored workshop evaluated the state-of-affairs for electronic access to ceramic property data and the attendant challenges and opportunities.
Science research drives economic growth, but it’s expensive and slow
What role should governments take in investing in basic research, and how does a nation’s R&D investment impact GDP? There is nothing like an election year—in the US and abroad—to draw attention to what governments should spend money on versus what they do spend money on.
Video: Grand challenges in ceramic science—Preliminary findings from workshop
Researchers go bravely where others cannot or dare not. A group of the nation’s top ceramic science researchers convened to tease out the largest scientific challenges that can be addressed with ceramic materials.
Historic January 1987: YBCO superconductors discovered and Super Bowl XXI
This story about the discovery of high-temperature YBCO superconductors shows that research breakthroughs are often the progeny of systematic, well-executed fundamental research… and serendipity.
I’m an unabashed materials geek, and these were some of my favorite super-sciency stories—with the qualification that I mostly write about science that intrigues me, so this is a lot like choosing a favorite child.
Understanding the ‘between’ spaces: Interfacial phases and solid-state sintering
The formation and stability of interfacial phases in the solid state drives properties, so understanding how interfaces form and the thermodynamics driving them is of paramount importance.
Mullite-like mixed oxides may replace platinum for catalyzing diesel pollution
Manganese-oxide compounds with the mullite crystal structure may one day displace platinum as the catalyst agent in automobile catalytic converters.
High-alumina optical fibers get around Brillouin scattering limitations
Ever wonder how data gets to your smart phone or laptop so fast? A group of glass scientists is working on the next generation on optical fibers that will move more data, faster, and with more accuracy.
High critical current density doped pnictide superconductors
Harnessing the promise of high-temperature superconductivity requires a deep understanding of the physics of magnetism and the influences of composition and microstructure. Plus, what’s not to love about the word “pnictide?”
Heat transfer—two new studies look at effects of interface bonding, surface roughness
The digital age is generating some very sophisticated heat transfer challenges. How exactly does heat egress from a surface, and how can the mechanism be engineered?
Useful metrics for comparing new energy storage technologies
Measuring is an essential experimental activity. However, scientists and engineers must continually ask themselves the question, “Am I measuring something meaningful and useful?”
And this last group of five was just fun to write about.
Don’t wait in line for coffee: How to know where the business opportunity is
A reflection on business, opportunity, finding the way, and waiting in line.
Oldest known pottery dates back 20,000 years and may have changed the course of human history
The earliest ceramic engineers designed pots for cooking and brewing, proof that since time immemorial, engineers bring the life of the party. Literally.
Friday fun video—Gravity-defying Slinky
Adulthood does not mean toys become irrelevant. This video shows that scientists never stop learning the lessons that educational toys can teach.
Technical ceramics and art ceramics—only a brain apart
In the world of ceramics, is there a line between art and science? Yes, sort of—and no, not really. The American Ceramic Society serves the professional needs of engineers, scientists, studio artists, and hobbyists.
A castle vacation, poster session included
An October vacation to Germany included a conference at a Bavarian castle and the opportunity to talk shop with some of the best minds in the world working on biomineralization.
Were you counting? Me neither. Did you have a favorite story or topic that we covered? Let us know!
Best wishes for a Happy New Year!