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World’s first magnetic hose created

An international team of scientists led by researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain) has developed a material which guides and transports a magnetic field from one location to the other, similar to how an optical fiber transports light or a hose transports water. The magnetic hose designed by the researchers consists of a ferromagnetic cylinder covered by a superconductor material, a surprisingly simple design given the complicated theoretical calculations and numerous lab tests it had to undergo.

Crystal defect cores adopt multiple arrangements in real materials

Crystal dislocations play a crucial role in defining the physicochemical properties of many materials, although the defects’ core structures remain poorly understood. A team of researchers at the Advanced Institute for Materials Research at Tohoku University (Japan) has now uncovered the structures of dislocation cores at the atomic scale. The researchers investigated these structures by combining complex simulations of atoms with systematic, high-resolution imaging.

New bridge design improves earthquake resistance, reduces damage and speeds construction

Researchers at Purdue University (U.S.) have developed a new design for the framework of columns and beams that support bridges, called “bents,” to improve performance for better resistance to earthquakes, less damage, and faster on-site construction. Faster construction is achieved by pre-fabricating the columns and beams off-site and shipping them to the site, where they are erected and connected quickly.

Nature of solids and liquids explored through new pitch drop experiment

Physicists at Queen Mary University of London (U.K) have set up a new pitch drop experiment for students to explore the difference between solid and liquids. Known as the ‘world’s longest experiment’, the original set up took ten years for a drop of pitch to fall from a funnel. The new trial uses a less viscous pitch, five different glass tubes with varying diameters to give five speeds of flow, and web cameras to catch the drops in action.

Better batteries have more pores for more power

Chemists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and at the University of Waterloo (Canada) have synthesized a new material that could show the way forward to state-of-the-art lithium–sulfur batteries. The researchers produced a novel type of nanofiber, whose highly ordered and porous structure gives it an extraordinarily high surface-to-volume ratio. A sample of the new material the size of a sugar cube has surface area equivalent to that of more than seven tennis courts.

Algae as chemical raw materials

Chemists and biologists at the University of Konstanz (Germany) have succeeded in transforming algae oil into high-quality chemical raw materials via so-called isomerizing alkoxycarbonylation. This provides the foundation for the use of algae as a basic chemical component for a broad spectrum of materials and products, beyond the use of algae as a substitute for crude oil.

A new method to detect infrared energy using a nanoporous ZnO/n-Si photodetector

Experiments aimed at devising new types of photodetectors have been triggered by the increasing use of optoelectronic devices in personal electronics, cameras, medical equipment, computers and by the military. Researchers at the China University of Petroleum in Beijing now show that a ZnO/n-Si structure has application as a new, simple, and low-cost photo-energy detector for an infrared pulsed laser.