Asking big questions of a microscopic particle: Scientists probe secrets of ancient mummy painting

By April Gocha / December 15, 2020

Ancient mummy portraits that were buried with mummies in Roman Egypt still hold many secrets about how and why they were created. A new study takes a deep dive into the materials secrets hiding in an ancient pigment particle and discovers some interesting insights into the people who created these unique works of art.

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Tough beetles reveal secrets that could help join dissimilar materials

By April Gocha / November 17, 2020

The diabolical ironclad beetle can withstand crushing by forces up to 39,000-times its body weight. But what makes this little beetle so tough? A new study reveals some of the secrets the beetle stores in its tough exoskeleton, secrets that could aid in development of biomimetic materials and structures to join dissimilar materials in more robust ways.

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Evaluating the potential of clay soils for industrial applications: A case study in Mozambique

By Lisa McDonald / November 6, 2020

Clay soils are essential raw materials in the ceramics industry. But how do manufacturers determine the potential of soils for industrial use when scoping out a new clay pit? An open-access study by three researchers in Mozambique shows how they evaluated soil potential based on samples extracted from the Manjacazi district.

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Hiding in plain sight: Broad diffraction pattern offers reliable quality control of graphene

By Lisa McDonald / November 3, 2020

Quality control of graphene is a pressing challenge for suppliers of the 2D material. Yet recent research at Ames Laboratory offers a valuable way to assess the quality by evaluating broad components of the diffraction pattern that scientists overlooked for years.

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Modeling ceramic conduction: Researchers update small-polaron transport model to account for complex oxide systems

By Lisa McDonald / October 30, 2020

To describe electronic charge transport in oxides, researchers rely on a small-polaron transport model that was developed six decades ago for binary oxides rather than higher-order systems. Researchers from Cornell University and Technion–Israel Institute of Technology have now updated the model with additional parameters to more accurately model complex oxide systems.

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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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