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Fisher-Barton opens new materials research lab

The Fisher-Barton Group has opened a new $2-million, state-of-the-art materials research laboratory in Watertown, Wis. The lab’s capabilities include scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectrometry for high-magnification imaging, and elemental and chemical characterization; X-ray fluorescence and diffraction for analyzing complex, unknown bulk samples, and identifying the elements and crystallographic structure of the sample, and; drop-weight impact testing that produces a highly-sensitive time history of applied force and deformation during a test.

What utilities really think about solar

GigaOm’s Ucilia Wang reports about the Solar Power International conference in Dallas last week, where a panel of utility executives served up some telling views about their interest and misgivings about investing in solar. She provides five takeaway opinion points from the session.

Japan’s novel Okinawa Institute officially becomes graduate university

A budding new Japanese graduate school backed by the likes of Nobel laureates Sydney Brenner, Susumu Tonegawa, Jerome Friedman and others has cleared the last hurdle required to start teaching. Japan’s cabinet officially approved the law formally recognizing the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University. Proposed in 2001, OIST started operations as a research institute in 2005 with a handful of scientists working in borrowed space, with Brenner serving as president and a board of governors stacked with scientific luminaries, including five Nobel laureates. OIST supporters, including domestic politicians and scientists, want to shake up Japan’s universities by creating a new academic model emphasizing interdisciplinary research. It is also attempting to attract non-Japanese faculty members by using English for teaching and administrative affairs.

International team finds rhodium dihydride with high volumetric hydrogen density

Materials with very high hydrogen density have attracted considerable interest due to a range of motivations, including the search for chemically precompressed metallic hydrogen and hydrogen storage applications. As reported on in PNAS, a team using high-pressure synchrotron X-ray diffraction technique and theoretical calculations have discovered a new rhodium dihydride with high volumetric hydrogen density (163.7 g/L). Compressing rhodium in fluid hydrogen at ambient temperature, the fcc rhodium metal absorbs hydrogen and expands unit-cell volume by two discrete steps to form NaCl-typed fcc rhodium monohydride at 4 GPa and fluorite-typed fcc RhH2 at 8 GPa. RhH2 is the first dihydride discovered in the platinum group metals under high pressure. Their low-temperature experiments show that RhH2 is recoverable after releasing pressure cryogenically to one bar and is capable of retaining hydrogen up to 150 K for minutes and 77 K for an indefinite length of time.

Engineering Ceramics in Europe and the USA: A Market and Strategic Study to the Year 2016

Engineering Ceramics in Europe and the USA: A Market and Strategic Study to the Year 2016, a 300-page market report that analyses the European and North American markets for engineering ceramics (also known as advanced ceramics), discusses the demand for various materials and products, and highlights new commercial opportunities. In the recent past, the possibilities offered by engineering ceramics have become recognised across a wide range of industrial applications, where their outstanding properties allow cost savings due to extended component lifespans in duties where metals and other materials may fail.

Are Bendable Smart Phones the Future?

Do you ever get tired of the simplicity and sensitivity of your smart phone’s touchscreen, or the elegance and intuitiveness of the now-standard pinch zoom? Do you want a way of interacting with your phone that requires two hands, and an element of brute force? If so, then this Nokia concept—a “kinetic device” that receives input by being bent or twisted—might be for you.