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[Image above] Credit: NIST

Transparent metal films for smartphone, tablet, and TV displays

A new material that is both highly transparent and electrically conductive could make large screen displays, smart windows, and even touch screens and solar cells more affordable and efficient, according to the Penn State materials scientists and engineers who discovered it. Instead of conventional indium tin oxide, the team reports a new design strategy that uses thin (10 nm) films of correlated metals, in which electrons flow like a liquid.

Ceramic particles supply digital X-ray plates “from an aerosol can”

Researchers at the Leibniz Institute for New Materials have developed new materials to manufacture X-ray detectors inexpensively and on a large scale with greater image resolution. The scientists have embedded ceramic particles in a conductive plastic, and the components of these “composite detectors” can be stirred into a solvent and then applied like paint by spraying.

Designer crystals for next-gen electronics

A new vapor process to grow designer crystals invented by an international team of scientists from the University of Leuven in Belgium, National University of Singapore, and CSIRO could lead to a new breed of faster, more powerful electronic devices. For the first time, the researchers show how designer MOF crystals can be grown using a vapor method that is similar to steam hovering over a pot of hot water.

Superhydrophobic coating protects without the price

A new class of superhydrophobic nanomaterials might simplify the process of protecting surfaces from water. A material made by scientists at Rice University, the University of Swansea, University of Bristol, and University of Nice Sophia Antipolis is inexpensive, nontoxic, and can be applied to a variety of surfaces via spray- or spin-coating. The coating is composed of aluminum oxide nanoparticles with modified carboxylic acids that feature highly branched hydrocarbon chains.

Gears look to the future for material

Gears are a common component of modern machinery, found in gearheads, watches, motors, furnaces, and automation equipment. Due to the ease of manufacturing and the variety of alloys available, metal alloys are the most common material used for gears. However, alternatives are available: ceramic and metal injection molding offer higher strengths and other properties that make them desirable.

Small variations mean big changes in oxide’s transformation from insulator to conductor

More energy-efficient computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices often begin with new materials. One promising material is vanadium dioxide due to its ability to rapidly transform from an insulator into a conductor in femtosecond timescales. Recently, scientists discovered that vanadium dioxide responds non-uniformly on the nanoscale, contrary to prior assumptions, even in well-defined single crystals.

Hybrid material presents potential for 4-D-printed adaptive devices

Combining photo-responsive fibers with thermo-responsive gels, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering and Clemson University have modeled a new hybrid material that could reconfigure itself multiple times into different shapes when exposed to light and heat, allowing for the creation of devices that not only adapt to their environment, but also display distinctly different behavior in the presence of different stimuli.

Real-time tracking shows how batteries degrade

How disposable lithium batteries degrade during normal use has been tracked in real-time by a UCL-led team using sophisticated 3-D imaging, giving a new way to non-invasively monitor performance loss and guide the development of more effective commercial battery designs. The study shows the internal structural damage caused to batteries working under normal conditions in real-time.

Better materials promise LEDs at a fraction of the cost

Better materials promise LEDs at a fraction of the cost, say researchers from Aalto University. Apart from their use in more economical and efficient illumination, these better materials could be useful also in power electronics. The researchers systematically analyzed behaviors of 35 metals, 2 metalloids, and 17 different ceramic materials with 3 different supercritical fluid chemistries heated to 572°C.