Materials & Innovations

Beyond oxides: Successful plastic deformation in silicon nitride thanks to dual-phase structure

By Lisa McDonald / January 24, 2023

Most explorations of plastic deformation in ceramics have focused on oxide systems. A recent study led by researchers at Tsinghua University in China demonstrated the possibility of plastic deformation in nonoxide ceramics as well, specifically silicon nitride, by harnessing a dual-phase structural configuration.

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How sweet it is: Accidental discovery leads to microprinting method for highly curved, complex surfaces

By Lisa McDonald / January 13, 2023

Through an accidental discovery, NIST researcher Gary Zabow discovered a new microprinting method based on sugar and corn syrup that allows microscale arrays to be deposited with precision on highly curved, complex surfaces.

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Batteries of tomorrow, plus more inside January/February 2023 ACerS Bulletin

By Lisa McDonald / December 21, 2022

The January/February 2023 issue of the ACerS Bulletin—featuring a look at some future battery technologies—is now available online. Plus—optical-grade ceramics and IYOG conclusion.

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Extensive modeling leads to new shape-memory zirconia with properties on par with shape-memory alloys

By Lisa McDonald / December 20, 2022

Even when a shape-memory ceramic’s lattice compatibility is improved, it still often experiences cracking after just a few dozen transformation cycles. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology improved the cyclability of shape-memory zirconia ceramics with the help of a multimode modeling approach.

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Good things come in even smaller packages: ZrO2 thin films on silicon show ferroelectricity down to 5 angstroms

By Lisa McDonald / December 9, 2022

Ferroelectric materials are expected to revolutionize the next generation of ultralow-power microelectronics. In a recent study, researchers led by the University of California, Berkeley achieved atomic-scale ferroelectricity in fluorite-structured zirconium dioxide thin films on silicon.

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Quantum computing guides development of transparent window coating to reduce energy costs

By Lisa McDonald / December 6, 2022

Passive radiative cooling systems typically are implemented by applying special coatings to the walls or roof of a building. But windows play a significant role in heat transfer too. University of Notre Dame researchers used a quantum computing-assisted active learning scheme to develop a new high-performance transparent radiative cooling coating for windows.

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A ‘brake’ from tradition: Glass fibers improve friction performance and wear rates of train brake shoes

By Lisa McDonald / December 2, 2022

Cast iron blocks and steel fibers are the dominant materials used for brake shoes in the railway industry. Researchers from a Spain-based friction materials manufacturer found that the addition of glass fibers could improve the shoes’ friction performance and wear rates.

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Planning for Mars: Researchers explore thermal properties of cermet fuel that may be used in future nuclear propulsion systems

By Lisa McDonald / November 22, 2022

To achieve manned missions to Mars, spacecraft will need to maximize fuel usage. Nuclear thermal propulsion is one technology actively on NASA’s radar. In a recent study, researchers from Missouri S&T and NASA Marshall used a surrogate material to explore the thermal properties of a cermet fuel that may be used in future nuclear propulsion systems.

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Preparing for winter—hollow silica particles could form the basis of next-generation thermal insulation systems

By Lisa McDonald / November 4, 2022

Hollow silica particles exhibit lower thermal conductivities than current common thermal insulation materials, while also being easier and cheaper to fabricate than state-of-the-art insulating aerogels. Two recent studies demonstrate the work being done to develop stable and scalable hollow silica particle-based composites for next-generation thermal insulation systems.

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Thermoformed boron-based ceramics may offer new frontier in customized electronic components

By Lisa McDonald / November 1, 2022

The typically brittle nature of ceramics can hamper its formation into complex parts. Northeastern University researchers demonstrated that a highly oriented boron-based ceramic matrix composite can be shaped via thermoforming, which could hold implications for the electronics field.

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