Characterization

Designing Li-S battery cathodes: Polarity rather than conductivity leads to long-term cycling stability

By Lisa McDonald / September 29, 2020

Highly conductive carbon materials are frequently investigated as host materials for sulfur in lithium-sulfur batteries, but such cathodes struggle with loss of sulfur due to the carbon surface being nonpolar. An international team of researchers explored if using polar silica instead as the host material may improve cycling stability, even though silica is nonconductive.

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Machine learning model predicts superhard materials from crystal structure

By Lisa McDonald / September 25, 2020

Conventionally, theoretical models are unable to predict a material’s hardness from its crystal structure because the underlying physical principles are complex. A new machine learning model developed by two researchers at Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology succeeds in making such predictions in a fast and reliable manner.

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Toward next-gen thermochromic glass: Researchers improve understanding of insulator-metal transition in vanadium dioxide films

By Lisa McDonald / September 18, 2020

Vanadium dioxide is being actively investigated for use in thermochromic glass due to its insulator-metal transition. However, the mechanism behind this transition is still not well understood. Researchers in Russia used the framework of blow-up overheating instability to improve understanding of this transition.

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Persistence is key—topological data analysis reveals hidden medium-range order in glass

By Lisa McDonald / September 11, 2020

Understanding the atomic structure of glass and other amorphous materials is difficult because, unlike crystals, the structure only consists of short-range and medium-range order; long-range order is absent. Researchers led by Aalborg University demonstrate how a topological method called persistent homology could help reveal a glass’s medium-range order structural features.

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Focused ion beam milling may improve accuracy of zirconia fracture toughness measurements

By Lisa McDonald / September 8, 2020

Partially stabilized zirconia is commonly used in restorative dentistry because of its superior mechanical properties, but accurately measuring its fracture toughness can be challenging. Researchers now show focused ion beam milling may improve the accuracy of a particular measurement method.

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Bio-inspired ceramic–metal composite stands its ground against cutting tools

By April Gocha / September 1, 2020

A team of researchers in the U.K. and Germany developed a ceramic–metal composite that, despite being just 15% as dense as steel, is nearly uncuttable. The material harnesses the power of vibration to direct cutting tools’ destructive energy back upon themselves, wearing the tools down before they can inflict serious damage on the material.

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Storing charge in sodium-ion batteries: Study supports “three-stage” model for hard carbon anodes

By Lisa McDonald / July 28, 2020

In developing sodium-ion batteries, hard carbon is the material most often used for the anode, but unknowns concerning the charge storage mechanism in this material hinder further development. Researchers have proposed several models to explain the charge storage mechanism, and a recent study lends support for the three-stage “adsorption-intercalation-adsorption” process.

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How effective is that mask? Depends on what materials it is made of

By April Gocha / July 21, 2020

There is no shortage of options available when shopping for nonmedical face masks, yet most provide little information about their filter efficiency and breathability—important considerations for a mask that is both efficient and comfortable. But a recent study offers more complete data on the performance of an array of common materials.

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Sand—a critical material resource with a complicated story and no simple solution

By April Gocha / July 7, 2020

Humans’ voracious sand consumption for infrastructure activities threatens global supply of this critical natural resource. But do we even know how much sand we are consuming worldwide? New research shows that we’ve been calculating the basic unit all wrong.

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Butter-like ceramic interlayer may solve interface instability of solid-state batteries

By April Gocha / June 19, 2020

Scientists at Chalmers University of Technology and Xi’an Jiaotong University developed a new ceramic interlayer—a butter-like mixture of glass-ceramic nanoparticles within an ionic liquid—that provides adequately high ionic conductivity, high thermal stability, and low interfacial resistance to potentially make solid-state batteries a commercial reality.

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