[Image above] Credit: NIST
A physicist at the University of Waterloo is among a team of scientists who have described how glasses form at the molecular level and provided a possible solution to a problem that has stumped scientists for decades. Their simple theory is expected to open up the study of glasses to non-experts and undergraduates as well as inspire breakthroughs in novel nanomaterials. The theory relies on two basic concepts: molecular crowding and string-like co-operative movement.
A new bio-inspired zeolite catalyst, developed by an international team with researchers from Technische Universität München, Eindhoven University of Technology and University of Amsterdam, might pave the way to small scale ‘gas-to-liquid’ technologies converting natural gas to fuels and starting materials for the chemical industry. Investigating the mechanism of the selective oxidation of methane to methanol they identified a trinuclear copper-oxo-cluster as the active center inside the zeolite micropores.
A new technique pioneered at Brookhaven National Lab reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real time and under real operating conditions. A team of scientists used a newly developed reaction chamber to combine X-ray absorption spectroscopy and electron microscopy for an unprecedented portrait of a common chemical reaction. The results demonstrate a powerful operando technique that may revolutionize research on catalysts, batteries, fuel cells, and other major energy technologies.
Robust self-healing composites called Engineered Cementitious Composites (ECC) are based on an advanced material technology first proposed by scientists at the University of Michigan. Unlike conventional concrete materials preferred in most field practices, ECC, which has reinforcing microfibers smaller than human hair, is relatively ductile in tension. Ductility is a direct result of strain-hardening response due to the formation of multiple closely spaced microcracks with average widths of less than 100 micrometers.
A University of Texas at Arlington materials science and engineering team has developed a new energy cell that can store large-scale solar energy even when it’s dark. The innovation is an advancement over the most common solar energy systems that rely on using sunlight immediately as a power source. The team developed an all-vanadium photo-electrochemical flow cell that allows for efficient and large-scale solar energy storage even at nighttime. The team is now working on a larger prototype.
Electrical engineers have broken key barriers that limit the distance information can travel in fiber optic cables and still be accurately deciphered by a receiver. Photonics researchers at the University of California, San Diego have increased the maximum power—and therefore distance—at which optical signals can be sent through optical fibers. This advance has the potential to increase the data transmission rates for the fiber optic cables that serve as the backbone of the internet, cable, wireless and landline networks.