NASA has achieved yet another milestone in its quest to advance an emerging nanotechnology that promises to make spacecraft instruments more sensitive without enlarging their size. John Hagopian, an optics engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., and his team can now grow a uniform layer of carbon nanotubes on 3D components such as complex baffles and tubes commonly used in optical instruments. Substrate materials including titanium, copper, and stainless steel are first coated with a highly uniform, atom-thick catalyst layer of iron oxide that supports the nanotube growth. The nano-based super-black material can absorb more than 99 percent of the ultraviolet, visible, infrared and far-infrared light that strikes it, according to NASA.
(Sciencedaily.com) If you squeeze a normal object in all directions, it shrinks in all directions. But a few strange materials will actually grow in one dimension when compressed. A team of chemists from the University of Oxford has now discovered a structure that takes this property to a new level, expanding more under pressure than any other known material. Zinc dicyanoaurate has a unique structure that combines a spring-like helical chain of gold atoms embedded in a honeycomb framework of gold, cyanide, and zinc. When the chain is compressed, the honeycomb flexes outward by as much as 10%—several times what had been achieved by any previous material. The property makes the transparent material a candidate for applications such as optical pressure sensors.
(WUNC.org) When you take a look at Thor’s hammer, Captain America’s shield, or Wolverine’s bones, you begin to see a trend of materials science colliding with these superheroes’ stories. Superhero comics can be just as much science as they are magic and can provide a new way to look at materials science. Suveen Mathaudhu, a professor in the department of Material Science and Engineering at North Carolina State University (Raleigh) and program manager of Synthesis and Processing at the US Army Research Office, recently sat down for an interview on North Carolina Public Radio station WUNC to talk about materials science in comic books and how it can be compared to materials in the real world.
(ScienceCodex.com) Social media has expanded to reach an unlikely new target: molecules. Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; Gaithersburg, Md.) have created networks of molecular data analogous to Facebook’s recently debuted graph search feature. The NIST-designed networks could help scientists rapidly sift through massive data sets to find substances with specific properties, speeding development of new designer materials. A key challenge for the NIST research team was to develop a standard language for scientists to describe their research subjects. The search language they developed uses short roots to build words based on a set of rules, says Talapady Bhat, a research chemist at NIST who has been leading the effort to develop a shared vocabulary for NIST’s scientific databases. Using the root and rule-based approach will mean that researchers who know the roots can figure out the meaning of unfamiliar terms, and it also gives scientists flexibility to develop easily understandable new terms in the future.
(AZoNano.com) Researchers at the Flexible Electronics and Display Center at Arizona State University have successfully manufactured the world’s largest flexible color organic light emitting display prototype using advanced mixed oxide thin film transistors. Measuring 14.7 diagonal inches, the device was developed at the center in conjunction with Army Research Labs scientists. This new display is nearly twice as large as one the center developed last year, which was the largest such display at the time. “Mixed oxide TFTs offer a highly cost-effective approach for manufacturing displays that deliver high performance, including vibrant colors, high switching speeds for video and reduced power consumption – all features that will be required for the next generation of consumer electronics,” says Nick Colaneri, director of the Flexible Electronics and Display Center. Mixed oxide TFT devices also can be manufactured on existing silicon production lines, eliminating the need for specialized equipment and processing, thereby reducing costs compared to competitive approaches, he added.