Basic science

One phase to rule them all—researchers use Monte Carlo simulations to determine most stable structure of boron nitride

By Lisa McDonald / April 29, 2022

Though hexagonal boron nitride is generally regarded as the most stable boron nitride structure, the relative phase stabilities of boron nitride polymorphs are still under debate. Researchers led by the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology used Monte Carlo simulations to calculate the relative phase stabilities of these polymorphs.

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National Science Foundation adds new directorate for the first time in more than 30 years

By Lisa McDonald / March 29, 2022

On March 16, 2022, the National Science Foundation announced the establishment of a Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships, its first new directorate in more than 30 years. Learn how this directorate came to be and what still needs to be decided concerning its operations.

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Toward the design of tunable ceramics: A review on vacancy ordering in substoichiometric zirconium carbide

By Lisa McDonald / March 25, 2022

Much research has established how the number of carbon vacancies in zirconium carbide significantly affects the thermodynamic and thermophysical properties. However, little is known about the effects caused by vacancy arrangement. A new open-access review paper summarizes the existing experimental and theoretical studies on these effects.

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A discreet call to move beyond discrete types—researchers advocate for viewing energy storage mechanisms as a continuous spectrum

By Lisa McDonald / March 22, 2022

For decades researchers have categorized energy storage devices based on whether they behave like a battery or a supercapacitor. An international research team argues that energy storage mechanisms should be viewed as existing on a spectrum instead and that the current binary classification system could hamper development of new technologies.

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Composite showdown—technological developments could lower carbon fiber composites’ environmental impact

By Lisa McDonald / March 4, 2022

Currently, replacing conventional materials with carbon fiber-reinforced polymers typically increases life cycle energy use due to the energy-intensive fiber production process. A new prospective life cycle assessment suggests certain technological developments could lead to carbon fiber composites with lower environmental impact than glass fiber composites.

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Revealing the surface structural cause of scratch formation on soda-lime-silica glass

By Lisa McDonald / February 25, 2022

Scratch formation on glass surfaces is a ubiquitous phenomenon, yet little information is available on the role of glass surface structure in triggering scratch formation. In a new open-access study, University of Bayreuth researchers “scratch the surface” on understanding the surface structural elements of soda–lime–silica glass that contribute to scratch formation.

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Consequences of methodology—influence of indenter tip radius on failure mechanisms in borided steel

By Lisa McDonald / February 22, 2022

Replication studies have demonstrated how slight changes in methodology can significantly affect results. Researchers in Mexico investigated the effect that one seemingly minor methodological change can have on experiments—the radius of the indenter tip used in scratch testing.

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Standard sintering aids and dispersants can degrade lasing performance of transparent ceramics

By Lisa McDonald / February 11, 2022

The use of transparent ceramics as a gain medium in lasers is an evolving field, and there is still much to learn about how processing parameters affect the ceramics’ performance. Researchers in Singapore and China published two papers investigating the possible effects of a standard sintering aid and dispersant on lasing performance.

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Probing the ocean’s origins—ultrahigh-pressure magnesium hydrosilicates may have served as reservoirs of early water

By Lisa McDonald / February 4, 2022

The origins of the world ocean remain a much-debated topic to this day. A new paper by researchers from several universities in China and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Russia posits that magnesium hydrosilicates served as reservoirs of water in early Earth.

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New geopolymer mortars and nano alumina protect concrete against sulfate attack

By Lisa McDonald / January 28, 2022

Sulfate attack is one of the most damaging causes of concrete deterioration. Two studies published this month look at the potential of new geopolymer mortars and the addition of nano alumina to improve concrete’s resistance to sulfate attack.

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