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September 4th, 2012

Other materials stories that may be of interest

Published on September 4th, 2012 | By: Eileen De Guire

Check these out …

Waste cooking oil makes bioplastics cheaper

‘Bioplastics’ that are naturally synthesized by microbes could be made commercially viable by using waste cooking oil as a starting material. This would reduce environmental contamination and also give high-quality plastics suitable for medical implants, according to scientists presenting their work at the Society for General Microbiology’s Autumn Conference at the University of Warwick (UK). The Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) family of polyesters is synthesized by a wide variety of bacteria as an energy source when their carbon supply is plentiful. Poly 3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) is the most commonly produced polymer in the PHA family. Currently, growing bacteria in large fermenters to produce high quantities of this bioplastic is expensive because glucose is used as a starting material. Work by a research team at the University of Wolverhampton (UK) suggests that using waste cooking oil as a starting material reduces production costs of the plastic.

Researchers develop new, less expensive nanolithography technique

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new nanolithography technique that is less expensive than other approaches and can be used to create technologies with biomedical applications. The new technique relies on cantilevers, which are 150-micron long silicon strips. The cantilevers can be tipped with spheres made of polymer or with naturally occurring spores. The spheres and spores are coated with ink and dried. The spheres and spores are absorbent and will soak up water when exposed to increased humidity. As a result, when the cantilevers are exposed to humidity in a chamber, the spheres and spores absorb water—making the tips of the cantilevers heavier and dragging them down into contact with any chosen surface. Users can manipulate the size of the spheres and spores, which allows them to control the patterns created by the cantilevers. NCSU associate professor Albena Ivanisevic is co-author of a paper describing the research.

Origami inspires research into materials that self-assemble when exposed to light

A multi-university research team led by North Carolina State University will be developing methods to create two-dimensional materials capable of folding themselves into three-dimensional objects when exposed to light. The effort, funded by the National Science Foundation, is inspired by origami and has a broad range of potential applications. The researchers plan to use experiments and computational models to evaluate the folding process in order to develop new multi-functional 3-D structures that can form rapidly while retaining precise control over their shape. Because the patterns will be on 2-D materials, the process should be compatible with high-throughput patterning techniques, such as roll-to-roll patterning used in electronics manufacturing. Potential applications include the development of unfoldable air foils that could be used for airdrops of humanitarian supplies with greater precision; hands-free assembly of electronics in a “clean” environment; or various packaging and manufacturing processes.

World’s fastest 2-seater production car uses Umeco lightweight composites

Driven by Robert Serwanski at the Angelholm airfield, Sweden, on 2 September 2011, the Agera R broke the existing Guinness Book of World Records title for ‘The fastest time for a two-seater production car to travel from 0-300-0 km/h,’ which it achieved in just 21.19 seconds. A powerful 1,115bhp engine, high-performance brakes, exceptional handling, driver experience, and the application of Umeco’s lightweight prepregs for the structure, bodywork and cosmetic trim all contributed to the record-breaking performance of this hypercar. Umeco’s BPS240 composite carbon fibre prepreg body panel system is a two-part, partially-impregnated epoxy prepreg system specifically designed for car body panels. It provides excellent surface quality from vacuum-only or press mold processing. The first ply, which utilises Umeco’s ZPREG partial impregnation technology, consists of a structural fabric coupled to a surface scrim by a high performance resin system. The second ply combines a low density syntactic core material and a structural fabric to create significant panel rigidity in a rapid laminating format.

Ancient lion’s head and armor discovered off coast of Italy

Scuba divers have found what is believed to be an ancient bronze sculpture of a lion’s head along with a complete suit of armor off the coast of Italy near Calabria last month. According to AFP, the hulking head is said to weigh 33 pounds and it would reach a little over a foot-and-a-half in height. The remains of vases and other statues, along with armor in bronze and copper, were found near the lion, ANSA details. An expert reportedly told the daily newspaper Il Quotidiano di Calabria that the artifacts were possibly from a Greek or Phoenician ship that sank nearby.


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