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[Image above] Credit: NIST

Plasmonic ceramics key to advances in nanophotonics for extreme conditions

Progress in developing nanophotonic devices capable of withstanding high temperatures and harsh conditions for applications including data storage, sensing, health care, and energy will depend on the research community and industry adopting new “plasmonic ceramic” materials, according to a commentary this week in Science.

Maps predict strength of structures

Mother-of-pearl, the iridescent layer in the shells of some mollusks, inspired a Rice University study that will help scientists and engineers judge the ultimate strength, stiffness and toughness of composite materials for anything from nanoscale electronics to buildings. The researchers’ universal maps predict the properties of natural and biomimetic platelet-matrix composites and synthetic stacks (or heterostructures) of materials like graphene and boron nitride.

Tough, fish scale-like material with soft flexibility could protect soldiers, astronauts

A team of researchers has developed a material that has superior anti-penetration properties while remaining flexible. The new material, inspired by the way nature designed fish scales, could be used to make bulletproof clothing for the military and space suits that are impervious to micro-meteorites and radiation when astronauts embark on spacewalks. The joint research effort was conducted at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Theoretical physicists design ‘holy grail’ of materials science

Physicists of Utrecht University and French colleagues have theoretically designed the ‘holy grail’ of material science. This material should exhibit a unique combination of the exceptional electronic properties of graphene with the important properties that graphene misses at room temperature. “If we manage to synthesize this ‘holy grail’ and it exhibits the theoretically predicted properties, a new field of research and applications opens up we can’t fathom yet,” says one of the researchers.

A better method for making perovskite solar cells

Research from Brown University has revealed a new way to make light-absorbing perovskite films for use in solar cells. The new method involves a room-temperature solvent bath to create perovskite crystals, rather than the blast of heat used in current crystallization methods. The technique produces high-quality crystalline films with precise control over thickness across large areas, and could point the way toward mass production methods for perovskite cells.

Nanolaminates could unlock potential of lithium–sulfur batteries

Drexel researchers, along with colleagues at Aix-Marseille University in France, have created a 2-D carbon/sulfur nanolaminate that could be a viable candidate for use as a lithium-sulfur cathode by using a process for extracting the nanolaminate from a three-dimensional material called a Ti2SC MAX phase. The researchers found that carbon/sulfur nanolaminates have covalent bonding between carbon and sulfur and an extremely uniform distribution of sulfur between the atomically thin carbon layers. This structure is key to their potential for being used as electrode materials for lithium–sulfur batteries.

Researchers identify process for improving durability of glass

Researchers from UCLA and Université Pierre et Marie Curie have identified a method for manufacturing longer-lasting and stronger forms of glass, which could lead to more durable display screens, fiber optic cables, windows, and other materials, including cement. By performing computer simulations, the researchers identified a range of pressures that are best for achieving “thermal reversibility,” in which a material will retain the same properties it had when it was produced, even if it has been exposed over time to variations in temperature.