Materials & Innovations

The microscopist’s dilemma: How to take advantage of an abundance of data

By Eileen De Guire / June 28, 2022

Storing data generated by sophisticated microscopy instruments is quite easy, but accessing, interpreting, and acting on the terabytes of data is challenging. Two recent papers offer interesting approaches to interacting with electron microscopes and the data they produce.

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New design for electrochemical membrane reactors improves long-term stability and efficiency of hydrogen production

By Lisa McDonald / June 21, 2022

Chemical storage offers a potentially easier way to transport hydrogen, but there is room to improve the way in which hydrogen is extracted from the carrier compound. Researchers led by CoorsTek Membrane Sciences designed a new electrochemical membrane reactor that achieves more than 99% hydrogen extraction efficacy.

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Clay locomotion and clean water

By Jonathon Foreman / June 17, 2022

Many of the world’s easily accessible freshwater sources are being drained faster than they are being replenished. In two recent papers, researchers led by Jilin University investigated the potential of a clay-based self-propelling nanomotor to purify water.

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Porosity-based heterojunctions may offer efficient and safer optoelectronic implants

By Lisa McDonald / June 14, 2022

The miniaturization of implantable medical devices is necessitating development of alternative energy systems. Researchers at the University of Chicago created porosity-based silicon heterojunctions that offer an efficient and safer way to perform optoelectronic modulation of tissues.

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A sweet demonstration: Ceria helps make miniaturized implantable glucose fuel cells possible

By Lisa McDonald / June 10, 2022

Glucose fuel cells allow for significant volumetric scale-down of implantable devices because they do not physically store energy like batteries. However, cells that use polymer-based electrolytes face some limitations. Researchers from MIT and the Technical University of Munich developed glucose fuel cells using a ceramic membrane that overcome these limitations.

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Video: The forgotten history of Franklin’s glass armonica

By Lisa McDonald / May 25, 2022

Few musical instruments are made out of glass. In the mid-1700s, American polymath Benjamin Franklin was inspired by glass harps to design a friction-based instrument called the glass armonica. Though popular at the time, glass armonicas are largely forgotten today.

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Carbon–tungsten oxide cathodes may benefit long-term stability of aluminum-ion batteries

By Lisa McDonald / May 24, 2022

Aluminum-ion batteries are faster, cheaper, and safer than lithium-ion batteries, but finding an appropriate material for the cathode is proving to be a barrier to commercialization. Researchers in Poland investigated the potential of carbon–tungsten oxide composites as cathode materials.

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Metalens may simplify generation and control of vacuum UV light

By Lisa McDonald / May 17, 2022

Vacuum UV light, while beneficial in biomedical and nanoprocessing applications, is difficult to generate and control using current methods. Researchers led by Rice University developed a metalens that can both generate and manipulate vacuum UV light.

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Forming methods influence the microstructure of flash-sintered ceramics

By Lisa McDonald / May 6, 2022

Flash-sintering of ceramics can lead to microstructural heterogeneity, which can negatively impact the material’s performance. Researchers in Brazil demonstrated that forming method can influence the final microstructure of flash-sintered ceramics.

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Silicon, zirconium nitrides may serve as superior coatings in next-generation nuclear fuels

By Lisa McDonald / April 19, 2022

Tristructural isotropic coated particle fuel is expected to improve safety of nuclear reactors. Researchers led by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville investigated the potential of using silicon nitride and zirconium nitride in TRISO particle fuel rather than silicon carbide.

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