Check ’em out:

Mapping the Materials Genome

(InsideScience Currents) At the APS Meeting, Krishna Rajan of Iowa State University discussed the work at his “collaboratory” on developing a “materials genome,” an effort to capture important information on materials, their structures, and properties and connect them together in a sort of interrelated web of information. Rajan showed barcodes that encapsulated a material’s properties and structures, as a way of condensing information on a material. The audience appeared intrigued, and receptive, to the idea.

Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering to review potential risks of shale gas extraction

What are the geological, environmental and technical risks associated with hydraulic fracturing as a means to extract shale gas in the United Kingdom? Can these risks be effectively managed? A new review announced by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering will investigate these questions. The project, “Shale gas extraction in the UK: a review of the scientific and engineering evidence,” will review the scientific and engineering evidence, including levels of uncertainty and potential risks, associated with the extraction of shale gas. The results of the review will be released later in the year.

‘Power Felt’ uses body heat to generate electricity

Among the many applications of flexible thermoelectric materials is a wristwatch powered by the temperature difference between the human body and the surrounding environment. But to make this watch out of low-cost carbon nanotube/polymer materials, would require a piece of fabric with an area of about 500 cm2, which is about 50 times greater than the area of a typical wristwatch. A team of researchers has developed a new multi-layer CNT/polymer design and demonstrated that has a greatly increased power output compared to previous designs, which the researchers call “Power Felt.” The research team, which includes PhD student Corey Hewitt and Professor David Carroll from Wake Forest University, along with collaborators from other institutions, has published a paper on the new thermoelectric fabric design in a recent issue of Nano Letters.

NanoBlack coating could soon be used in space applications

(The Engineer) Scientists researching the “darkest material known to man” are hoping a new manufacturing process will enable them to create more accurate space instruments. The British companies developing the production method say it could make NanoBlack – a coating based on carbon nanotubes – more flexible and widely used, following a new research project match-funded by the government. The carbon nanotube coating, which was demonstrated by NASA last year, absorbs more than 99 per cent of the visible, infrared and ultraviolet light that hits it, making it ideal for sensitive optical instruments on board satellites and other spacecraft.

ORNL completes first phase of Titan supercomputer transition

Oak Ridge National Lab’s Jaguar supercomputer has completed the first phase of an upgrade that will keep it among the most powerful scientific computing systems in the world. Acceptance testing for the upgrade was completed earlier this month. The testing suite included leading scientific applications focused on molecular dynamics, high-temperature superconductivity, nuclear fusion, and combustion. When the upgrade process is completed this autumn, the system will be renamed Titan and will be capable of 10 to 20 petaflops. Users have had access to Jaguar throughout the upgrade process.