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Other materials stories that may be of interest

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[Image above] Credit: NIST


Scientists create first 2-D electride

Researchers have brought electrides into the nanoregime by synthesizing the first 2-D electride material. In their study, the researchers showed that the defining features of electrides—in particular, the electron gas and its properties—are preserved when a layered electride called dicalcium nitride (Ca2N) is synthesized in 2-D, single-layer form.

First look inside nanoscale catalysts shows ‘defects’ are useful

Peering for the first time into the workings of tiny chemical catalysts, scientists observed that the ‘defective’ structure on their edges enhances their reactivity and effectiveness. This finding that could lead to the design of improved catalysts that make industrial chemical processes greener, by decreasing the amount of energy needed for chemical reactions, and preventing the formation of unwanted and potentially hazardous products.

3-D printing and nanotechnology, a mighty alliance to detect toxic liquids

Carbon nanotubes have made headlines in scientific journals for a long time, as has 3-D printing. But when both combine with the right polymer, in this case a thermoplastic, something special occurs: electrical conductivity increases and makes it possible to monitor liquids in real time.

2-D materials enhance a 3-D world

Researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University demonstrate for the first time that charge transfer between 2-D layers of MoS2 and an organic semiconductor occurs at an ultra-fast timescale, on the order of less than 100 femtoseconds, or one tenth of one millionth of one millionth of a second.


Surf and earth: how prawn shopping bags could save the planet

Bioengineers at The University of Nottingham are trialing how to use shrimp shells to make biodegradable shopping bags, as a ‘green’ alternative to oil-based plastic, and as a new food packaging material to extend product shelf life. The new material for these affordable ‘eco-friendly’ bags is being optimized for Egyptian conditions, as effective waste management is one of the country’s biggest challenges.

Investigating the impact of natural and manmade nanomaterials on living things

Nanomaterials, both natural and manmade, are literally everywhere, from our personal care products to our building materials—we’re even eating and drinking them. At the Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology, headquartered at Duke University, scientists and engineers are researching how nanoscale materials affect living things.


Measuring how perovskite solar films efficiently convert light to power

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have directly shown that electrons generated when light strikes a well-oriented perovskite film are unrestricted by grain boundaries and travel long distances without deteriorating. Identification of this property, which is key to efficiently convert sunlight into electricity, could lead to more efficient solar panels.

NREL pioneers better way to make renewable hydrogen

Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Lab developed a method that boosts the longevity of high-efficiency photocathodes in photoelectrochemical water-splitting devices. NREL researchers determined that greater photocathode stability and high catalytic activity can be achieved by depositing and annealing a bilayer of amorphous titanium dioxide and molybdenum sulfide onto GaInP2.

Race for a better fuel begins with NREL researchers

NREL research could make racing fans take notice. Researchers have created a catalyst that converts biomass into a hydrocarbon mixture rich in 2,2,3-trimethylbutane, also known as triptane. Triptane is added to gasoline to reduce engine knocking, to boost the octane rating, and to increase the motor’s efficiency. The biofuel NREL developed is 85% triptane.


Embracing opportunity: Additive technology used for manufacturing

It’s a materials scientist’s dream, but as some experts say, an engineer’s nightmare. For scientists and engineers at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing, can be a powerful tool for rapid innovation.

Technique enables adaptable 3-D printing

MIT chemists have now developed a technique that allows them to print objects and then go back and add new polymers that alter the materials’ chemical composition and mechanical properties. The researchers can also fuse two or more printed objects together to form more complex structures.

Printable electrodes for plastic electronics and advanced semiconductor devices

A team of scientists from the National University of Singapore has successfully developed conducting polymer films that can provide unprecedented ohmic contacts to give superior performance in plastic electronics, including organic LEDs, solar cells, and transistors. The key is to be able to design polymer films with the desired extreme work functions needed to generally make ohmic contacts.


Researchers use nature’s weaving formula to engineer advanced functional materials

University of New South Wales biomedical engineers have woven a ‘smart’ fabric that mimics the properties of one of nature’s ingenious materials, the bone tissue periosteum. The team mapped the complex tissue architectures of the periosteum, visualized them in 3-D on a computer, scaled up the key components, and produced prototypes using weaving loom technology.

Understanding beetle exoskeletons could lead to new, improved artificial materials

Northwestern University engineers have employed a creative way to identify the geometry and material properties of the fibers that comprise a beetle’s exoskeleton. This work could ultimately uncover information that could guide the design and manufacturing of new and improved artificial materials through bio-mimicry.

GaN-on-silicon technology advances towards scalable high electron mobility transistors

A team of University of Illinois researchers has recently advanced gallium nitride (GaN)-on-silicon transistor technology by optimizing the composition of the semiconductor layers that make up the device. The team created the high electron mobility transistor structure on a 200 mm silicon substrate with a process that will scale to larger industry-standard wafer sizes.

The origin of ultrahigh piezoelectric response

All ferroelectric materials possess a property known as piezoelectricity in which an applied mechanical force can generate an electrical current and an applied electrical field can elicit a mechanical response. Now, an international team of scientists led by Penn State may have solved the 30-year-old riddle of why certain ferroelectric crystals exhibit extremely strong piezoelectric responses.

Some catalysts contribute their own oxygen for reactions

Chemical reactions that release oxygen in the presence of a catalyst are a crucial part of chemical energy storage processes. The kinetics of this type of reaction are generally slow, but compounds called metal oxides can have catalytic activities that vary over several orders of magnitude. Now, a team at MIT has shown that in some of these catalysts oxygen doesn’t come only from the water molecules surrounding the catalyst material; some of it comes from within the crystal lattice of the catalyst material itself.

Sketching out magnetism with electricity

In a proof-of-concept study, researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology drew magnetic squares in a nonmagnetic material with an electrified pen and then “read” this magnetic doodle with X-rays. The experiment demonstrated that magnetic properties can be created and annihilated in a nonmagnetic material with precise application of an electric field.