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[Image above] Credit: NIST

Ultra-thin, all-inorganic molecular nanowires successfully compounded

The development of metal oxide-based molecular wires is important for fundamental research and potential practical applications. However, examples of these materials are rare. Researchers from Hokkaido University, Kanagawa University, Hiroshima University and Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute/SPring-8, Japan, successfully created ultrathin all-inorganic molecular nanowires, composed of a repeating hexagonal molecular unit made of Mo and Te, that are only 1.2 nm in diameter.

3D-printed ‘smart cap’ uses electronics to sense spoiled food

UC Berkeley engineers created a ‘smart cap’ using 3-D-printed plastic with embedded electronics to wirelessly monitor the freshness of milk. The team is expanding the already impressive portfolio of 3-D printing technology to include electrical components, such as resistors, inductors, capacitors and integrated wireless electrical sensing systems. They have put the new technology to the test by printing a wireless “smart cap” for a milk carton that detected signs of spoilage using embedded sensors.

Improving insulation materials, down to wetting crossed fibers

Understanding the effect of a liquid wetting randomly oriented fibers in a fibrous medium is a mystery. Relevant to the building industry, which uses glass wool, for instance, this phenomenon can be better understood by studying the behavior of a liquid trapped between two parallel fibers. Now, scientists have demonstrated that the spreading of the liquid is controlled by three key parameters: the amount of liquid on the fibers, the fibers’ orientation, and the minimum distance between them.

NIST shows organic solar industry something new under the sun

Hunting for the best material from which to build organic solar cells can be like seeking the proverbial haystack needle, but now scientists at NIST and the Naval Research Laboratory may have a better search tool. The team’s findings show it is possible to test a candidate material quickly and directly, using off-the-shelf laser technology. The method bypasses the costly, time-consuming step of constructing a prototype solar cell for each material to be evaluated.

Syntactic foam and carbon fabric sandwich satisfies hunger for lightweight yet strong materials

A team of researchers reports success in pioneering tests of a layered material with a lightweight metal matrix syntactic foam core that holds significant potential for applications requiring lightweight structural components that retain their strength even when bent or compressed. The study focused on an aluminum alloy filled with hollow alumina particles sandwiched with carbon fabric face-sheets. The researchers discovered that the resulting layered material reduced weight but also increased stiffness and offered high energy absorption.

Metal foams capable of shielding X-rays, gamma rays, neutron radiation

Research from North Carolina State University shows that lightweight composite metal foams are effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of high impact collisions. The finding means the metal foams hold promise for use in nuclear safety, space exploration and medical technology applications.

Bringing back the magic in metamaterials

A “perfect lens” hasn’t been created yet, but it is a theoretical perfected optical lens made out of metamaterials, which are engineered to change the way the materials interact with light. While a perfect lens—and the metamaterials it’s made of—is almost perfect, it’s not foolproof. Now, researchers at Michigan Technological University have found a way to possibly solve one of the biggest challenges, getting light waves to pass through the lens without getting consumed.