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[Image above] Credit: NIST

Wisconsin concrete innovation makes Seattle skyscraper stable

A University of Wisconsin-Madison engineer’s solution for streamlining the construction of skyscrapers is having a skyscraper moment in one of the most seismically active regions of the country. Traditionally, coupling beams are reinforced with a labyrinth of rebar. As an alternative to excessive amounts of rebar, the new solution incorporates steel fibers into the concrete mix.

Atomic-resolution microscopy answers questions about lithium-rich cathode material

Using complementary microscopy and spectroscopy techniques, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab say they have solved the structure of lithium- and manganese-rich transition metal oxides, a potentially game-changing battery material and the subject of intense debate in the decade since it was discovered. Because previous studies have been ambiguous about the structure, the researchers minimized ambiguity by looking at the material from different directions, or zone axes.

New design points a path to the ‘ultimate’ battery

Researchers at Cambridge University have successfully demonstrated how several of the problems impeding the practical development of the so-called ‘ultimate’ battery could be overcome. They have developed a working laboratory demonstrator of a lithium-oxygen battery which has very high energy density, is more than 90% efficient, and, to date, can be recharged more than 2000 times, showing how several of the problems holding back the development of these devices could be solved.

Scientists synthesize hexagonal boron nitride

Researchers from the Center for Integrated Nanostructure Physics within the Institute for Basic Science have assiduously studied the relationship between insulators and conductors by testing layered hexagonal boron nitride. According to the research, the h-BN layer is superior to its competing insulator, silicon dioxide, as it “has demonstrated to be an ideal substrate for 2-D materials due to its atomic flatness, large band gap, superb mechanical strength, absence of dangling bonds and low dielectric screening.”

Biodegradable plastic implants made from clay could help heal broken bones

A plastic derived from cornstarch combined with a volcanic ash compound could someday help heal bones. The biodegradable polymer, reinforced with Montmorillonite clay nanoparticles for strength, dissolves in the body within 18 months. As the material dissolves, new bone formation takes its place. The material is created by injecting the polymer-clay mixture with carbon dioxide, resulting in an implant that looks like foam, but is rigid like bone.

New metal alloy could yield green cooling technologies

A promising new metal alloy system could lead to commercially viable magnetic refrigerants and environmentally friendly cooling technologies, according to a scientist at Rochester Institute of Technology. Scientists investigated high entropy alloys, a class of emergent materials that holds potential for advanced manufacturing and possesses hardness and resistance to wear and corrosion, the authors found.

Nanotech: The new alchemy

Alchemy left the mainstream centuries ago, but one of its core concepts, transmuting the elements, is experiencing a revival in nanotechnology. Researchers at the University of Michigan are charting a path toward materials with new properties by cleverly altering the nanoparticles used to build them. To demonstrate the concept, the team used a computer simulation that arranged a set of particles into a structure and then allowed the shape to change.