Characterization

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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Graphene may be the key material to smooth out carbon fiber’s high price

By April Gocha / June 12, 2020

A team of researchers found adding a small amount of graphene can improve the structural alignment of spun carbon fibers, reinforcing their strength—and providing the potential to produce much more inexpensive carbon fiber materials.

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Not just the edges—defects impart electrocatalytic properties to entire graphene surface

By Lisa McDonald / May 29, 2020

Defects in a material’s structure offer scientists a way to alter certain material properties. In a new study, three researchers in Russia investigate how different defects in graphene alter the material’s electron transfer kinetics.

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Exploring the mechanical behavior of MOF glasses

By Lisa McDonald / May 26, 2020

Metal-organic frameworks have immense potential in various applications but are difficult to synthesize in bulk. Fabricating MOFs in the glassy phase provides the necessary stability for bulk synthesis, and two new studies investigate the mechanical properties of these unique glasses.

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3D-printed rocks improve understanding of fracture formation

By Lisa McDonald / April 21, 2020

The unpredictable nature of fracture formation in rocks makes it difficult to ensure reproducible measurements across different samples. Researchers at Purdue University 3D-printed gypsum rocks to overcome this problem and clearly investigate the effect of mineral fabric and layering on fracture formation.

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Peeking at the past—Bricks used to characterize past presence of radioactive materials

By Lisa McDonald / April 7, 2020

For successful nuclear nonproliferation initiatives, authorities must be able to detect and characterize radioactive sources—but how can they do so if the radioactive material was removed before they arrived? Researchers at North Carolina State University developed a technique that allows retrospective characterization of radioactive sources.

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Observing at the extremes— nanomechanical materials testing at over 2,000°C

By Lisa McDonald / March 3, 2020

Performing microscale experiments at ultrahigh temperatures is difficult because the high heat can destroy the testing mechanisms. Researchers demonstrated a new method, which combines targeted laser heating and transmission electron microscopy, that may overcome this problem.

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Understanding roughness on a small scale: The origin of self-affinity

By Lisa McDonald / February 28, 2020

Roughness plays a big role in determining friction and adhesion between materials, which greatly affects processes in both scientific and industrial fields. So understanding roughness can help control these factors. Researchers led by the University of Freiburg investigate the origins behind a particular characteristic of roughness—self-affinity.

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A classic updated—indentation crack testing in inert atmospheres and air

By Jonathon Foreman / February 28, 2020

Just as car models build upon the successes and failures of the previous generation, so too do journal articles. See how such a process takes place through the comparison of two JACerS articles from 1981 and 2019 on indentation crack testing.

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