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Other materials stories that may be of interest

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[Image above] Credit: NIST


Workshop for new researchers in glass science and glass technology

The International Commission on Glass (ICG) will hold the 8th Summer School for new researchers in glass science and glass technology in Montpellier, France, July 4-8, 2016. Summer School 2016 will be organized as two parallel streams, one following a glass science theme, focused more on academic topics, and the second looking at glass technologies both from an industrial and academic perspective.


Scientists show how to make a low-cost yet high precision glass nanoengraving

Scientists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Institute of Chemical Physics, Moscow State University, and Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics have developed a mechanism of laser deposition of patterns on glass with a resolution of 1000 times lower than the width of a human hair. Focusing the laser was conducted with the help of small glass spheres, playing the role of the lens.

Host-guest nanowires for efficient water splitting and solar energy storage

Researchers report that nanowires made from multiple metal oxides could put solar ahead as a renewable energy resource. Researchers designed a system where nanowires of titanium dioxide acts as a “host” for “guest” nanoparticles from another oxide called BiVO4. Together with a unique studded nanowire architecture, the new system works better than either material alone.

Method for tiny cracks in electrodes may mean big boost for nanoelectronics

The next generation of electronics could depend on near atomic scale cracks—or nanogaps—in electrodes. Now researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology have published a scalable method using nanocracks for creating nanogaps that are only a few atom layers wide. The researchers say the new method improves on established ways to achieve gaps in conductive material titanium nitride.

Carbon nanocoating makes coaxial cables lighter for aerospace use

Common coaxial cables could be made 50% lighter with a new nanotube-based outer conductor developed by Rice University scientists. The scientists developed a coating that could replace the tin-coated copper braid that transmits the signal and shields the cable from electromagnetic interference. The metal braid is the heaviest component in modern coaxial data cables.


Researchers developing sponge-like material to efficiently store natural gas

Although compressed natural gas represents a cleaner and more efficient fuel for vehicles, its volatile nature requires a reinforced, heavy tank that stores the gas at high pressure and therefore limits vehicle design. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are utilizing metal-organic frameworks to develop a new type of storage system that would adsorb the gas like a sponge and allow for more energy-efficient storage and use.

Putting silicon ‘sawdust’ in a graphene cage boosts battery performance

A team from Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Lab has come up with a possible solution for a better battery: Wrap each and every silicon anode particle in a custom-fit cage made of graphene. In a recent report, the scientists describe a simple, three-step method for building microscopic graphene cages of just the right size—roomy enough to let the silicon particle expand as the battery charges, yet tight enough to hold all the pieces together when the particle falls apart.

Self-heating lithium-ion battery could beat the winter woes

A lithium-ion battery that self heats if the temperature is below 32°F has multiple applications, but may have the most impact on relieving winter “range anxiety” for electric vehicle owners, according to a team of researchers from Penn State and EC Power, State College. The researchers, relying on previous patents by EC Power, developed the all-climate battery to weigh only 1.5% more and cost only 0.04% of the base battery.

A simple way to make lithium-ion battery electrodes that protect themselves

Scientists at three DOE national laboratories have discovered how to keep a promising new type of lithium ion battery cathode from developing a crusty coating that degrades its performance. The solution: Use a simple manufacturing technique to form the cathode material into tiny, layered particles that store a lot of energy while protecting themselves from damage.


Metallic glasses: ‘Revolutionary’ advance in MEMS

The fragility of silicon after it has been subjected to microprocessing limits the use of silicon-based microelectromechanical systems, or ‘MEMS’, in devices with large rotational movements. Now, by exploiting the high robustness of metallic glasses, AIMR researchers have constructed a MEMS device that boasts an ultrahigh rotational performance as well as very low power consumption, making it attractive for next-generation sensors and actuators.

Depositing multiple materials in one chip layer could mean more efficient computers

MIT researchers and their colleagues report the first chip-fabrication technique that enables significantly different materials to be deposited in the same layer of a computer chip. They also report that, using the technique, they have built chips with working versions of all the circuit components necessary to produce a general-purpose computer. The layers of material in the researchers’ experimental chip are extremely thin—between one and three atoms thick.

Novel nanotechnology technique makes table-top production of flat optics a reality

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a simplified approach to fabricating flat, ultra-thin optics. The new approach enables simple etching without the use of acids or hazardous chemical etching agents. The specific optical components fabricated by the researchers included a flat focusing lens with focal length of ~150 micrometers, a diffraction grating, and a holographic converter that imparts angular momentum to a standard optical beam.

Super-sharp images through thin optical fibers

Super-sharp images from within the human body made through tiny endoscopes have come a step closer to reality thanks to joint research by scientists from the University of Twente’s MESA+ research institute, the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, FOM and Carl Zeiss AG. An advanced wavefront shaping method combined with unique optical fibers make it possible to focus lensless light at an unparalleled resolution.

Polar vortices observed in ferroelectric

The observation in a ferroelectric material of “polar vortices” that appear to be the electrical cousins of magnetic skyrmions holds intriguing possibilities for advanced electronic devices. These polar vortices, which were theoretically predicted more than a decade ago, could also “rewrite our basic understanding of ferroelectrics” according to the researchers who observed them.