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Published on November 1st, 2017 | By: April Gocha, PhD

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Other materials stories that may be of interest

Published on November 1st, 2017 | By: April Gocha, PhD

[Images above] Credit: NIST

 

NANOMATERIALS

 

Molybdenum ditelluride could bring optical communication onto silicon chips

Researchers describe a light emitter and detector that can be integrated into silicon CMOS chips. The device is built from a semiconductor material called molybdenum ditelluride, a 2-D transition-metal dichalcogenide.

 

Single nanoparticle mapping paves the way for better nanotechnology

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the Technical University of Denmark have developed a method that makes it possible to map the individual responses of nanoparticles in different situations and contexts.

 

Nanotube fiber antennas as capable as copper

Fibers made of carbon nanotubes configured as wireless antennas can be as good as copper antennas but 20 times lighter, according to Rice University researchers. The antennas may offer practical advantages for aerospace applications and light and flexible wearable electronics.

 

Piezoelectrics stretch their potential with a method for flexible sticking

Thin-film piezoelectrics offer potential for new applications where smaller dimensions or a lower voltage operation are required. Researchers have demonstrated a new technique for making piezoelectric microelectromechanical systems by connecting a sample of lead zirconate titanate piezoelectric thin films to flexible polymer substrates.

 

 

ENERGY

 

3-D printer makes first wearable ‘battery’

Imagine printing off a wristband that charges your smartphone or electric car with cheap supplies from a local hardware store. That’s the direction materials research is heading at Brunel University London where scientists have become the first to simply and affordably 3-D print a flexible, wearable ‘battery’.

 

First close-ups of finger-like growths that trigger battery fires

Scientists have captured the first atomic-level images of finger-like growths called dendrites that can pierce the barrier between battery compartments and trigger short circuits or fires. This is the first study to examine the inner lives of batteries with cryo-electron microscopy.

 

Transparent solar tech represents ‘wave of the future’

See-through solar materials that can be applied to windows represent a massive source of untapped energy and could harvest as much power as bigger, bulkier rooftop solar units, scientists report.

 

Passive solar windows heat up in cold weather

Researchers have developed a way to transform ordinary windows into solar-powered heaters that use the sun’s energy to increase window temperature by up to 8 K (nearly 15°F) in cold weather. The researchers expect that the new solar thermal surfaces will lead to significant energy savings through reduced heating costs.

 

Novel catalyst for rechargeable metal-air batteries

Scientists have introduced a novel catalyst to accelerate commercialization of metal-air batteries. The new catalyst possesses the structure of nanofiber-based perovskite materials and exhibits excellent electrochemical performance, yet it is still inexpensive.

 

Highly stable perovskite solar cells developed

Researchers have developed highly stable perovskite solar cells using edged-selectively fluorine functionalized graphene nanoplatelets. The breakthrough is especially significant since the cells are made out of fluorine, a low-cost alternative to gold.

 

New fractal-like concentrating solar power receivers are better at absorbing sunlight

Sandia National Laboratories engineers have developed new fractal-like, concentrating solar power receivers for small- to medium-scale use that are up to 20% more effective at absorbing sunlight than current technology.

 

 

ENVIRONMENT

 

Adding bits of irradiated plastic water bottles could cut cement industry’s carbon emissions

MIT undergraduate students have found that, by exposing plastic flakes to small, harmless doses of gamma radiation, then pulverizing the flakes into a fine powder, they can mix the plastic with cement paste to produce concrete that is up to 20% stronger than conventional concrete.

 

Dynamic catalytic converters for clean air in the city

A new concept might help catalytic converters efficiently treat exhaust gases after the cold start of engines and in urban traffic and to reduce consumption of expensive noble metal. It is based on the interaction between platinum and the cerium oxide carrier to control catalytic activity by short-term changes of the engine’s operation mode.

 

Turning the optical fiber network into a giant earthquake sensor

Using optical fibers to monitor seismic events is not a new technology—but most involve first stabilizing the fibers by attaching them to a surface or encasing them in cement. A new project used loose fiber optic cables laying inside plastic pipes, mimicking a standard optical communications installation.

 

Global road-building explosion could be disastrous for people and nature, say scientists

The global explosion of new roads is rife with economic, social, and environmental dangers, according to a study. The most urgent priority, say the researchers, is limiting millions of kilometers of new roads being planned or built in high-rainfall areas, mostly in developing nations of the Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America.

 

Adhesives and composite materials made from Swiss tree bark

Studies conducted by the National Research Programme “Resource Wood” show that tannins extracted from native tree bark can be used to produce adhesives and composite materials. An additional area of application might be 3-D printing.

 

 

BIOMEDICINE

 

Smart dental aids use flexible batteries, LEDs

Flexible, non-toxic batteries might enable smart, 3-D printed braces that reduce the time and cost involved in realigning and straightening teeth. Researchers have developed an orthodontic system that involves placing two near-infrared LEDs with one lithium-ion battery on every tooth in a semitransparent, 3-D-printed dental brace.

 

New self-regulating nanoparticles could treat cancer

Scientists from the University of Surrey have developed ‘intelligent’ nanoparticles which heat up to a temperature high enough to kill cancerous cells—but which then self-regulate and lose heat before they get hot enough to harm healthy tissue.

 

Nanoparticles with pulse laser controlled antibacterial properties

A collaboration of researchers in Japan found that silver nanoparticles have a propensity to conglomerate, which results in a reduction of antibacterial attributes. Coating the nanoparticles with gold solves the conglomeration problem, but reduces antibacterial effects. Pulsed laser irradiation provides a solution.

 

 

OTHER RESEARCH

 

Materials with a coherent twin boundary can deform in unexpected way

Coherent twin boundaries make a material much stronger while preserving its ability to be deformed, unlike most other processes that add strength. Researchers have now discovered a new deformation mechanism of twin crystal boundaries, which could help engineers figure out how to more precisely use coherent twin boundaries to tune the properties of some materials.

 

Rapid cellphone charging getting closer to reality

The ability to charge cellphones in seconds is one step closer after researchers at the University of Waterloo used nanotechnology to significantly improve supercapacitors. Their novel design roughly doubles the amount of electrical energy the rapid-charging devices can hold.

 

Understanding how electrons turn to glass

Researchers at Tohoku University have gained new insight into the electronic processes that guide the transformation of liquids into a solid crystalline or glassy state. The team compared the molecular dynamics of glass formation in conventional liquids to an organic metal material containing ‘frustrated’ electrons.

 

LED light-based LiFi is ready for its moment in the spotlight

The promise of LiFi (light fidelity), which utilizes the very LED lights that illuminate a work space to transmit more secure, high-speed, wireless data at rates that can go well beyond those possible with WiFi, has now advanced to the point of introducing a new form of mainstream implementation.

 

Superconductor with bounce could enable extreme environment actuators

Ames Laboratory has discovered extreme “bounce,” or super-elastic shape-memory properties in a material that could be applied for use as an actuator in the harshest of conditions. The material, CaFe2As2, is not a metallic alloy but an intermetallic more well-known for its novel superconducting properties.

 

Technique offers advance in testing micro-scale compressive strength of cement

Researchers from North Carolina State University have, for the first time, used a “micropillar compression” technique to characterize the micro-scale strength of cement, allowing for the development of cement with desirable strength properties for civil engineering applications.

 

3-D models illustrate effect of material roughness of photocathode surface

Advances in materials science have improved the composition of materials used in photocathode production, although surface roughness of the photocathode continues to limit beam properties. Researchers created computer models to bridge the gap to provide a better picture of the physics at the surface of the photocathode.

 


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