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[Image above] Credit: NIST

An engineered surface unsticks sticky water droplets

The leaves of the lotus flower, and other natural surfaces that repel water and dirt, have been the model for many types of engineered liquid-repelling surfaces. As slippery as these surfaces are, however, tiny water droplets still stick to them. Now, Penn State researchers have developed nano/micro-textured, highly slippery surfaces able to outperform these naturally inspired coatings, particularly when the water is a vapor or tiny droplets.

Material science partnership awards broaden participation, strengthen research

With an eye toward improving material science through increased diverse perspectives, NSF awarded six Partnerships for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) awards this year. Whether they focus on new laser treatments that may better target cancer cells, or on exploring new materials that could lead to sustainable energy alternatives, PREM awards couple the expertise of NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC) with minority-serving colleges and universities to involve those students in some of the nation’s preeminent materials research.

For 2-D boron, it’s all about that base

Rice University scientists have theoretically determined that the properties of atom-thick sheets of boron depend on where those atoms land. Theoretical physicists found in previous work that CVD is probably the best way to make highly conductive 2-D boron. But their new calculations show it may be possible to guide the formation of 2-D boron by tailoring boron-metal interactions. They discovered that copper might be best to obtain flat boron, while other metals would guide the resulting material in their unique ways.

Solar panels step up renewables’ game

With the U.S. seeking energy independence, as well as trying to boost its economy, renewable energy sources seem a feasible fit. From biofuels to solar and wind energy, the U.S. is diving into the technologies and processes that make these energy sources viable. Yet, the U.S. has also placed strict demands on renewable energy regarding environmental restrictions. Windmill permitting is becoming harder due to protecting endangered birds from dying, and the same is true for solar thermal.

Recycling permanent magnets in one go

Electric motors or wind turbines are driven by powerful permanent magnets. The most powerful ones are based on the rare earth elements neodymium and dysprosium. A new process route realized by Fraunhofer researchers will enable future fast and cost-effective recycling of these crucial materials. For recycling, the scientists rely on the melt spinning process—a method already tried and tested for other alloys, also known as “rapid solidification.”

‘Squid teeth’ plastic self-heals with water

A drop of water self-heals a multiphase polymer derived from the genetic code of squid ring teeth, which may someday extend the life of medical implants, fiber-optic cables, and other hard to repair in place objects. The two-part material is a copolymer consisting of an amorphous segment that is soft and a more structured molecular architecture. The structured portion consists of strands of amino acids connected by hydrogen bonds to form a twisted and/or pleated sheet that provides strength, but the amorphous segment provides self-healing.