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January 28th, 2012

Other materials stories that may be of interest

Published on January 28th, 2012 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

Computer simulations show that metal oxides in water go through many short-lived shapes and structures (see story below). Credit: William Casey, UC Davis.

Check ’em out:

Scorpions inspire scientists in making tougher surfaces for machinery

Researchers studied the bumps and grooves on the scorpions’ backs, scanning the creatures with a 3D laser device and developing a computer program that modeled the flow of sand-laden air over the scorpions. The team used the model in computer simulations to develop actual patterned surfaces to test which patterns perform best. At the same time, the erosion tests were conducted in the simple erosion wind tunnel for groove surface bionic samples at various impact conditions. Their results showed that a series of small grooves at a 30-degree angle to the flowing gas or liquid give steel surfaces the best protection from erosion.

US inactivity regarding strategic materials criticized at Washington hearing

At a hearing Jan. 26 before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Jeff Green testified that the US has lost critical supply chain capabilities and significant technological capital to China and that the lack of a deliberately thought-out U.S. policy for strategic and critical materials has resulted in economic and national security vulnerabilities. The hearing on “China’s Global Quest for Resources and Implications for the United States” examined Chinese efforts to acquire and manage various natural resources. Green president of the J.A. Green & Co., assists industrial clients in government relations, business development and strategic planning matters and is the former staff director to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness.

Imaging ‘invisible’ dopant atoms in semiconductor nanocrystals

In semiconductor nanocrystals, the physical effects of deliberately included impurities, called dopants, may depend on the dopant position with the crystal. To date, there has not been an effective technique to determine the location of individual dopant atoms in nanocrystals. IRG-4 researchers demonstrated that a combination of scanning transmission electron microscopy and electron energy loss spectroscopy can be used to reveal the position of such “invisible” dopants.he physical effects of deliberately included impurities, called dopants, may depend on the dopant position with the crystal. To date, there has not been an effective technique to determine the location of individual dopant atoms in nanocrystals. IRG-4 researchers demonstrated that a combination of scanning transmission electron microscopy and electron energy loss spectroscopy can be used to reveal the position of such “invisible” dopants.

Nano research could impact flexible electronic devices

A discovery by a research team at North Dakota State University, Fargo, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, shows that the flexibility and durability of carbon nanotube films and coatings are intimately linked to their electronic properties. The research could one day impact flexible electronic devices such as solar cells and wearable sensors.

Metal oxide simulations could help green technology

University of California, Davis, researchers have proposed a radical new way of thinking about the chemical reactions between water and metal oxides, the most common minerals on Earth. Using computer simulations and comparing the resulting animations with lab experiments they found that the behavior of an atom on the surface of the cluster can be affected by an atom some distance away. Instead of moving through a sequence of transitional forms, as had been assumed, metal oxides interacting with water fall into a variety of “metastable states” – short-lived intermediates, the researchers found.

Team develops cheaper way of separating nanotubes

Researchers in London have developed a cheaper way of producing high-quality carbon nanotubes in larger quantities than existing methods. A team from the London Center for Nanotechnology has licensed the process, which separates nanotubes into usable quantities without damaging them, to German-based industrial gases company the Linde Group. LCN’s solution was to charge the nanotubes with electrons so that they naturally repel each other, by reacting them with an alkali metal such as sodium in a solution of ammonia. This solution of separated nanotubes can then be used for manufacturing things such as composites, or the nanotubes can be precipitated out of the solution.

Collaborative learning in networks

“We found that collective exploration improved average success over independent exploration because good solutions could diffuse through the network. In contrast to prior work, however, we found that efficient networks outperformed inefficient networks, even in a problem space with qualitative properties thought to favor inefficient networks. We explain this result in terms of individual-level explore-exploit decisions, which we find were influenced by the network structure as well as by strategic considerations and the relative payoff between maxima. We conclude by discussing implications for real-world problem solving and possible extensions.”


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