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[Image above] Credit: NIST

Dr. Who fans, brace yourselves: Researchers invent microscopic sonic screwdriver

Researchers from the University of Bristol, U.K., and Northwestern Polytechnical University, China, have shown that acoustic vortices act like tornados of sound, causing microparticles to rotate and drawing them to the vortex core. The team used a number of tiny ultrasonic loudspeakers arranged in a circle to create swirling sound waves. They found that when a mixture of small microparticles and water were introduced, they rotated slowly about the vortex core.

Boosting confidence in new manufacturing technologies

Despite its revolutionary promise, additive manufacturing is still in its infancy when it comes to understanding the impact of subtle differences in manufacturing methods on the properties and capabilities of resulting materials. DARPA’s Open Manufacturing program seeks to solve this problem by building and demonstrating rapid qualification technologies that comprehensively capture, analyze and control variability in the manufacturing process to predict the properties of resulting products.

Missouri S&T physics professor invited to NSF materials workshop in Japan

Julia Medvedeva, an associate professor of physics at Missouri University of Science and Technology, will join a panel of experts at the first “U.S.-Japan Materials Genome Workshop” to discuss the best ways to produce low-cost, efficient manufactured products. The workshop, held June 23­–24 in Tsukuba, Japan, will bring together an interdisciplinary group of researchers from the United States and Japan to collaborate on ways to use predictive theory and modeling, combined with machine learning and data mining to create industrial products.

New ‘designer carbon’ boosts battery performance

Stanford University scientists have created a new carbon material that significantly boosts the performance of energy-storage technologies. The team developed a new way to synthesize high-quality carbon using inexpensive—and uncontaminated—chemicals and polymers. The process begins with conducting hydrogel, a water-based polymer with a spongy texture similar to soft contact lenses, and uses a mild carbonization and activation process to convert polymer organic frameworks into nanometer-thick sheets of carbon.

Black phosphorus reveals its secrets

A team of researchers from Université de Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal and the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) in France is the first to succeed in preventing 2-D layers of black phosphorus from oxidating. In so doing, they have opened the doors to exploiting their striking properties in a number of electronic and optoelectronic devices.

Getting rid of pinholes in solar cells

Researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University have eliminated problematic pinholes in the top layer of next-generation solar cells. The pinholes in the top layer, known as the hole transport layer, were identified as a key cause for the quick degradation of perovskite solar cells. The researchers eliminated the pinholes by using a different method to create the top layer of the solar cell, which is made of a material called spiro-OMeTAD.

Intensity of laser attacks on aircraft may be reduced with new coating

Lewis University researchers have created a coating for aircraft that reduces pilot distraction from laser attacks. The researchers previously proved these frequent laser attacks can be a distraction to pilots and a potential safety hazard during critical phases of flight. The team developed a practical and economical solution through the use of photoresponsive nanocomposite coatings on aircraft windscreens. The study determined the application of the engineered films resulted in a reduction in laser intensity from 36–88%.