Materials & Innovations

Energy ‘harvesting,’ structure monitoring confab at Virginia Tech

By / November 15, 2008

Virginia Tech’s Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems is hosting its 4th Annual Energy Harvesting Workshop Jan 28-29 in Blacksburg, VA. Energy harvesting refers to efforts to tap unused power from industrial machines, human activity, vehicles, vibrating structures and various other environment sources. Workshop organizers say the events bring together leading industries, national labs,…

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Oddest announcement of the last few weeks: Peeling tape can emit X-rays

By / November 14, 2008

Maybe a newly rediscovered property of Scotch tape is the reason the 3M company has been doing better in the last few months than the rest of the stock market. The discovery/rediscovery, as reported in Nature, is that when you peel adhesive tape off its roll in a vacuum chamber, it emits some strong X-rays.…

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Nanobamas – symbolic solutions to tough problems?

By / November 13, 2008

Perhaps we shouldn’t read too much into the microscopic faces of Barack Obama (shown above) that University of Michigan professor John Hart has created using carbon nanotubes, optical and scanning electron microscope. One has to wonder, however, if Hart’s creations are meant to convey a symbolic message – like the potential that both nanotechnology and the…

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Video of the week – aerogels

By / November 12, 2008

This week’s video is actually a three-in-one aerogel feature. Aerogel is wispy, translucent, highly insulating material often described as “solid smoke.” It’s worth noting that aerogel is not a new material and may date back to the 1930s. Many new applications and lower-cost production processes, however, are opening up. The first part of the video…

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Kyocera scores with online ‘Fine Ceramics World’

By / November 6, 2008

“Fine ceramics” – a.k.a. advanced ceramics – gets a great boost from a new website launched by Kyocera. If you are expecting an ad blitz from the company, think again. Yes, there are some links to the company’s applications, but  Fine Ceramics World is almost entirely about the ABCs and XYZs of cutting-edge ceramic technology.…

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Video of the week – Physics 101: What our next president needs to know

By / November 5, 2008

Apropos of this week’s event in the U.S., this week’s video is based on what’s been called “the best class at Berkeley.” It is taught by Richard Muller, and the approximately one-hour lecture and half-hour Q&A is sponsored by Univ. of California, Berkeley’s Friends of Science. Muller is a professor at Cal where he specializes…

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Thin film sandwich feeds hunger for superconductors

By / November 1, 2008

Though looking sort of glum at the time, Ivan Bozovic is successfully leading Brookhaven Labs’ thin-film superconductor project. Researchers at DOE’s Brookhaven National Lab have developed a sandwich of thin films that, at the point where the films touch, offers a nanometer-sized area of superconductivity. Moreover, as reported in the Oct. 9 edition of Nature magazine, the superconductivity…

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Learning from lizards how to improve dry adhesives

By / October 28, 2008

What can a team of highly trained researchers from four different U.S. universities learn from the feet of a gecko lizard? According to the researchers, how to improve carbon nanotube-based material so that, for the first time, it demonstrates “directionally varied (anisotropic) adhesive force” and gripping power nearly three times the level of existing nanotube…

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Chinese academy reports ZnO nanorod FET breakthrough

By / October 25, 2008

The Chinese Academy of Science reports that scientists at its Institute of Microelectronics have successfully formed a zinc oxide nanorod field-effect transistor, the “first of its kind as a nano device.” The ZnO nano materials, such as nanowires, nanorods, nanobands and nanorings, attract intense worldwide attention for their unique optical, semiconducting and piezoelectric properties. At…

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SOFC-powered robot passes proof-of-concept tests

By / October 24, 2008

No, the little bot in the picture above is not a fugitive from a Star Wars movie remake. It’s actually an iRobotPackBot powered by a hybrid solid oxide fuel cell system developed by Adaptive Materials Inc. According to an AMI press release, the Ann Arbor, Mich. firm recently completed tests that proved its hybrid SOFC system…

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