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Other materials stories that may be of interest

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[Image above] Credit: NIST

New techniques for building microelectromechanical systems show promise

Manufacturing microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) have traditionally required sophisticated and expensive semiconductor fabrication facilities. Researchers from MIT now show that a MEMS-based gas sensor manufactured with a desktop device performs at least as well as commercial sensors built at conventional production facilities. They also show that the central component of the desktop fabrication device can itself be built with a 3-D printer.

Building blocks for GaN power switches

A team of engineers from Cornell University, the University of Notre Dame and the semiconductor company IQE has created gallium nitride power diodes capable of serving as the building blocks for future GaN power switches. But along with having many desirable features as a material, GaN is notorious for its defects and reliability issues. So the team zeroed in on devices based on GaN with record-low defect concentrations to probe GaN’s ultimate performance limits for power electronics.

Case Western researchers tailor power source for wearable electronics

Wearable power sources for wearable electronics are limited by the size of garments. With that in mind, researchers at Case Western Reserve University have developed flexible wire-shaped microsupercapacitors that can be woven into a jacket, shirt, or dress. By their design or by connecting the capacitors in series or parallel, the devices can be tailored to match the charge storage and delivery needs of electronics donned.

3-D “nanobridges” formed using electron beam writing with tiny liquid jets

Researchers have demonstrated a new process for rapidly fabricating complex 3-D nanostructures from a variety of materials, including metals. The new technique uses nanoelectrospray to provide a continuous supply of liquid precursor, which can include metal ions that are converted to high-purity metal by a focused electron beam. The new process generates structures that would be impossible to make with other techniques.

Phase transformation: Switching on the next phase of nanodevices

AIMR researchers have developed a way to switch the atomic packing of an inorganic crystal between two solid phases on a nanoscale. The researchers used state-of-the-art STEM to study intriguing ceramics known as strontium niobates (SrNbOx). Slightly adjusting the oxygen content inside this material induces a transformation from layered atoms with insulating properties to a more compact ‘perovskite’ crystal packing with a high conductivity.

Turning rice farming waste into useful silica compounds

University of Michigan materials scientists and engineers have developed a simple, inexpensive chemical method for producing high-purity silica compounds from agricultural waste. Much of the world’s agricultural waste contains silica, and the search for a practical way to extract it stretches back 80 years. While the new process could be used to produce silica and silicon-containing chemicals from many types of agricultural waste, researchers focused on using the hulls left over from processing rice.