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Other materials stories that may be of interest

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Lehigh awarded Keck Foundation grant for anti-thermal materials research

The W.M. Keck Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant to Lehigh University to study and discover the mechanisms that govern anti-thermal processes that appear to reverse nature. The work has the potential to revolutionize scientists’ basic understanding of thermal processes and inform the development of new materials that could withstand higher temperatures. A breakthrough in this area could lead to significant increases in engine efficiency.


Molecular-like photochemistry from semiconductor nanocrystals

Researchers from North Carolina State University have demonstrated the transfer of triplet exciton energy from semiconductor nanocrystals to surface-bound molecular acceptors, extending the lifetime of the originally prepared excited state by six orders of magnitude. This finding has implications for fields ranging from solar energy conversion to photochemical synthesis to optoelectronics to light therapy for cancer treatment.

Boron nitride nanotubes could help build better fighter planes and space shuttles

A team of scientists at Binghamton University was first to determine the interface strength between boron nitride nanotubes and epoxy and other polymers. The group found that BNNTs in polymer or epoxy form much stronger interfaces than comparable carbon tubes. A stronger interface means that a larger load can be transferred from the polymer to nanotubes, a critical characteristic for superior mechanical performance of composite materials.

Researchers show how mother-of-pearl is formed from nanoparticles

Materials scientists at FAU have shown for the first time that the mother-of-pearl in clam shells does not form in a crystallization process but is a result of the aggregation of nanoparticles within an organic matrix. This could lead to a better understanding of the structure of biomaterials that may be useful in the development of new high-performance ceramics.

Bismuth-based nanoribbons show ‘topological’ transport

Purdue University researchers have created nanoribbons of an emerging class of materials called topological insulators and used a magnetic field to control their semiconductor properties, a step toward harnessing the technology to study exotic physics and building new spintronic devices or quantum computers. The nanoribbons are made of bismuth telluride.

New nanosheet growth technique has potential to revolutionize nanotech

After six years of painstaking effort, a group of University of Wisconsin-Madison materials scientists believe their breakthrough in growing tiny sheets of zinc oxide could have huge implications for the future of nanomaterial manufacturing—and in turn, on a host of electronic and biomedical devices. The team has developed a novel technique for synthesizing 2-D nanosheets from compounds that do not naturally form atomic-layer-thick materials.

Beetle-inspired discovery could reduce frost’s costly sting

In a discovery that may lead to ways to prevent frost on airplane parts, condenser coils, and even windshields, a team of researchers led by Virginia Tech has used chemical micropatterns to control the growth of frost caused by condensation. The researchers describe how they used photolithography to pattern chemical arrays that attract water over top of a surface that repels water, thereby controlling or preventing the spread of frost.


Switchable material could enable new memory chips

Two MIT researchers have developed a thin-film material whose phase and electrical properties can be switched between metallic and semiconducting simply by applying a small voltage. The material then stays in its new configuration until switched back by another voltage. The discovery could pave the way for a new kind of “nonvolatile” computer memory chip that retains information when the power is switched off, and for energy conversion and catalytic applications.

Thermal cameras snoop beneath surfaces to reveal materials’ secrets

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Lab are pioneering the use of infrared cameras to image additive manufacturing processes in hopes of better understanding how processing conditions affect the strength, residual stresses, and microstructure of 3-D-printed parts. This is just the latest application to build upon decades of expertise in IR cameras that have added scientific understanding to promising technological developments.

Berkeley scientists first to weave materials at atomic, molecular levels

An international collaboration led by scientists at Berkeley Lab and the University of California Berkeley has woven the first 3-D covalent organic frameworks from helical organic threads. The woven COFs display significant advantages in structural flexibility, resiliency, and reversibility over previous COFs—materials prized for their potential to capture and store carbon dioxide and it into valuable chemical products.

Giant clams offer clues to improve solar cells, color displays

Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara have discovered that some species of giant clams produce their white coloration much like the displays used in televisions and smartphones do—by combining red, green, and blue light. The focus lies at the interface between the clams and their algal partners, in a collection of iridescent cells clams produce just inside the edge of their shells.


Tiny electronic implants monitor brain injury, then melt away

A new class of small, thin electronic sensors can monitor temperature and pressure within the skull and melt away when no longer needed. The new devices incorporate dissolvable silicon technology developed by scientists at the University of Illinois. The sensors, smaller than a grain of rice, are built on extremely thin sheets of silicon that are configured to function normally for a few weeks, then dissolve away in the body’s own fluids.

Semiconductor nanocrystals prove effective against antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”

New research from the University of Colorado Boulder suggests that the solution to superbug antibiotic resistance may lie within quantum dots. The dots, which are about 20,000 times smaller than a human hair and resemble the tiny semiconductors used in consumer electronics, successfully killed 92% of drug-resistant bacterial cells in a lab-grown culture.