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[Image above] Credit: NIST

Hands on: Crafting ultrathin color coatings

Harvard researchers have developed a technique that coats a metallic object with an extremely thin layer of semiconductor, just a few nanometers thick. Although the semiconductor is a steely gray color, the object ends up shining in vibrant hues because the coating exploits interference effects in the thin films. The finding now suggests that ultrathin coatings could be applied to essentially any rough or flexible material, from wearable fabrics to stretchable electronics.

Layered-double-hydroxide materials as more efficient flame retardants

Gram for gram, sandwich-like coatings with a so-called layered-double-hydroxide (LDH) center reduce the flammability of polyurethane foam more than comparable surface treatments with montmorillonite clay, report fire prevention researchers at NIST. Montmorillonite clay already is considered a promising, environmentally friendly replacement for older flame retardants, but LDH-based coatings can be applied with fewer fabrication steps.

Intelligent façades generating electricity, heat and algae biomass

A new international materials science project, “Large-Area Fluidic Windows–LaWin,” intends to develop functional façades and window modules together with an integrated production process. The team will work on new glass modules for building façades, which consist of two joint glass layers: one layer made from a very thin and high strength cover glass and one layer of structured glass.

Universality of charge order in cuprate superconductors

An international team of scientists has identified charge order in HgBa2CuO4 , emphasizing that it is a pristine cuprate material with a rather simple crystal structure that superconducts at temperatures as high as –175°C. A further important result of the study is the finding of a universal connection between the period of quantum oscillations and the spatial period of the charge order.

Metal organic framework candidates for methane storage

A team of Rice University researchers used a custom algorithm to not only quickly design new metal organic framework configurations able to store compressed natural gas (methane) with a high “deliverable capacity,” but ones that can be reliably synthesized from commercial precursor molecules. And here’s a handy bonus: The algorithm also keeps track of the routes to synthesis.