MaterialNews archive - Information & Innovation
As part of our research and consulting activities we review a number of international sources. Every day, we include several press releases concerning material-based innovations in research, development and application in our portal. Feel free to use this source for your own research.
Elaborate nanostructures blossom from a chemical reaction perfected at Harvard
"Spring is like a perhaps hand," wrote the poet E. E. Cummings: "carefully / moving a perhaps / fraction of flower here placing / an inch of air there... / without breaking anything."
With the hand of nature trained on a beaker of chemical fluid, the most delicate flower structures have been formed in a Harvard laboratory—and not at the scale of inches, but microns.
These minuscule sculptures, curved and delicate, don't resemble the cubic or jagged forms normally associated... more
Writing in Nature, a large international team led Dr Roman Gorbachev from The University of Manchester shows that, when graphene placed on top of insulating boron nitride, or 'white graphene', the electronic properties of graphene change dramatically revealing a pattern resembling a butterfly.
The pattern is referred to as the elusive Hofstadter butterfly that has been known in theory for many decades but never before observed in experiments.
Combining graphene with other materials in multiple-layered structures could lead to novel applications not yet explored by science or industry.
Graphene is the world's thinnest, strongest and most conductive material, and promises a vast range of diverse applications; from smartphones and ultrafast broadband to drug delivery and computer... more
Adding ionic liquid to nanotube films could build smaller gadgets, and create more cost effective “Smart Windows” that darken in bright sun
The atom-sized world of carbon nanotubes holds great promise for a future demanding smaller and faster electronic components. Nanotubes are stronger than steel and smaller than any element of silicon-based electronics—the ubiquitous component of today’s electrical devices—and have better conductivity, which means they can potentially process information faster while using less energy.
The challenge has been figuring out how to incorporate all those great properties into useful electronic... more
Northwestern University scientists have struck gold in the laboratory. They have discovered an inexpensive and environmentally benign method that uses simple cornstarch -- instead of cyanide -- to isolate gold from raw materials in a selective manner.
This green method extracts gold from crude sources and leaves behind other metals that are often found mixed together with the crude gold. The new process also can be used to extract gold from consumer electronic waste.
Current methods for gold recovery involve the use of highly poisonous cyanides, often leading to contamination of the environment. Nearly all gold-mining companies use this toxic gold leaching process to sequester the precious metal.
"The elimination of cyanide from the gold... more
Researchers use synthetic silicate to stimulate stem cells into bone cells
In new research published online May 13, 2013 in Advanced Materials, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) are the first to report that synthetic silicate nanoplatelets (also known as layered clay) can induce stem cells to become bone cells without the need of additional bone-inducing factors. Synthetic silicates are made up of simple or complex salts of silicic acids, and have been used extensively for various commercial and industrial applications, such as food additives, glass... more
High-level simulations reveal that plastic deformation in super-resilient alloys is governed by atomic zones with characteristic lengths
Quick-cooling molten atoms give metal alloys a glassy, or random, atomic structure that generates higher elasticity and better wear- and corrosion-resistance than their crystalline alloy counterparts. However, these ‘metallic glasses’ also suffer from brittleness that makes them shatter. Findings from Yong Wei Zhang of the A*STAR Institute of High Performance Computing in Singapore and co-workers may now make it easier to use metallic glass in practical engineering applications1. They have discovered... more
Researchers from IMDEA-Nanociencia Institute and from Autonoma and Complutense Universities of Madrid (Spain) have managed to give graphene magnetic properties.
The breakthrough, published in the journal 'Nature Physics', opens the door to the development of graphene-based spintronic devices, that is, devices based on the spin or rotation of the electron, and could transform the electronics industry.
Scientists were already aware that graphene, an incredible material formed of a mesh of hexagonal carbon atoms, has extraordinary conductivity, mechanical and optical properties. Now it is possible to give it yet one more property: magnetism, implying... more
Berkeley Lab researchers and their colleagues extend electron spin in diamond for incredibly tiny magnetic detectors
From brain to heart to stomach, the bodies of humans and animals generate weak magnetic fields that a supersensitive detector could use to pinpoint illnesses, trace drugs – and maybe even read minds. Sensors no bigger than a thumbnail could map gas deposits underground, analyze chemicals, and pinpoint explosives that hide from other probes.
Now scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California at Berkeley, working... more
Researchers have created a new tool to detect flaws in lithium-ion batteries as they are being manufactured, a step toward reducing defects and inconsistencies in the thickness of electrodes that affect battery life and reliability.
The electrodes, called anodes and cathodes, are the building blocks of powerful battery arrays like those used in electric and hybrid vehicles. They are copper on one side and coated with a black compound to store lithium on the other. Lithium ions travel from the anode to the cathode while the battery is being charged and in the reverse direction when discharging energy.
The material expands as lithium ions travel into it, and this expansion and contraction causes mechanical stresses that can... more
Researchers have discovered a technique for controlling the sensitivity of graphene chemical sensors.
The sensors, made of an insulating base coated with a graphene sheet--a single-atom-thick layer of carbon--are already so sensitive that they can detect an individual molecule of gas. But manipulating the chemical properties of the insulating layer, without altering the graphene layer, may yet improve their ability to detect the most minute concentrations of various gases.
The finding "will open up entirely new possibilities for modulation and control of the chemical sensitivity of these sensors... more
The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is unveiling its new “bd-2” sensor for thickness measurements.
Within a measurement range of several millimeters, the system can accurately measure foils, rolled strips and other metallic semi-finished products with a precision better than 100 nm. The small sensor head coupled with high-speed data processing facilitates inline measurements in the production line.
Materials and quality control must meet increasingly stringent requirements in the aerospace and automotive industries. To provide thickness measurement, for instance, sensors must now be accurate... more
University of Illinois researchers have developed a new way to produce highly uniform nanocrystals used for both fundamental and applied nanotechnology projects.
“We have developed a unique approach for the synthesis of highly uniform icosahedral nanoparticles made of platinum (Pt),” explained Hong Yang, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and a faculty affiliate at the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Illinois. “This is important both in fundamental studies—nanoscience and nanotechnology—and in applied sciences such as high performance fuel cell catalysts.
Yang’s research group focuses on the synthesis and understanding... more
A team led by Professor Keon Jae Lee from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST has developed in vivo silicon-based flexible large scale integrated circuits (LSI) for bio-medical wireless communication.
Silicon-based semiconductors have played significant roles in signal processing, nerve stimulation, memory storage, and wireless communication in implantable electronics. However, the rigid and bulky LSI chips have limited uses in in vivo devices due to incongruent contact with the curvilinear surfaces of human organs. Especially, artificial retinas recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (refer to the press release of FDA's artificial retina approval) require extremely flexible... more
Thermoelectric materials can be used to turn waste heat into electricity or to provide refrigeration without any liquid coolants, and a research team from the University of Michigan has found a way to nearly double the efficiency of a particular class of them that's made with organic semiconductors.
Organic semiconductors are carbon-rich compounds that are relatively cheap, abundant, lightweight and tough. But they haven't traditionally been considered candidate thermoelectric materials because they have been inefficient in carrying out the essential heat-to-electricity conversion process.
Today's most efficient thermoelectric materials are made of relatively rare inorganic semiconductors such as bismuth, tellurium and selenium that are expensive, brittle and often toxic. Still... more
Rice University lab finds possible keys to better nanofibers and films
A Rice University laboratory’s cagey strategy turns negatively charged carbon nanotubes into liquid crystals that could enhance the creation of fibers and films.
The latest step toward making macro materials out of microscopic nanotubes depends on cage-like crown ethers that capture potassium cations. Negatively charged carbon nanotubes associate with potassium cations to maintain their electrical neutrality. In effect, the ethers help strip these cations from the surface of the nanotubes, resulting... more
Scientists at Princeton University used off-the-shelf printing tools to create a functional ear that can "hear" radio frequencies far beyond the range of normal human capability.
The researchers' primary purpose was to explore an efficient and versatile means to merge electronics with tissue. The scientists used 3D printing of cells and nanoparticles followed by cell culture to combine a small coil antenna with cartilage, creating what they term a bionic ear.
"In general, there are mechanical and thermal challenges with interfacing electronic materials with biological materials," said Michael McAlpine, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering... more
Rice University researchers say discovery may point toward self-healing materials
Squeeze a piece of silicone and it quickly returns to its original shape, as squishy as ever. But scientists at Rice University have discovered that the liquid crystal phase of silicone becomes 90 percent stiffer when silicone is gently and repeatedly compressed. Their research could lead to new strategies for self-healing materials or biocompatible materials that mimic human tissues.
A paper on the research appeared this month in Nature’s online journal Nature Communications.
Silicone in its... more
A team of bioengineers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) is the first to report creating artificial heart tissue that closely mimics the functions of natural heart tissue through the use of human-based materials. Their work will advance how clinicians treat the damaging effects caused by heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
"Scientists and clinicians alike are eager for new approaches to creating artificial heart tissues that resemble the native tissues as much as possible, in terms of physical properties and function," said Nasim Annabi, PhD, BWH Renal Division, first study author. "Current biomaterials used to repair hearts after a heart attack and other cardiovascular events lack suitable functionality and strength. We are introducing an alternative that has the mechanical properties and functions... more
Researchers at Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab have developed a new smartphone – called MorePhone – which can morph its shape to give users a silent yet visual cue of an incoming phone call, text message or email.
“This is another step in the direction of radically new interaction techniques afforded by smartphones based on thin film, flexible display technologies” says Roel Vertegaal (School of Computing), director of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University who developed the flexible PaperPhone and PaperTab.
“Users are familiar with hearing their phone ring or feeling it vibrate in silent mode. One of the problems with current silent forms of notification is that users often miss notifications... more
Prototype mobile devices that can change shape on-demand will be unveiled today and could lay down the foundation for creating high shape resolution devices of the future.
The research paper, to be presented at one of the world's most important conferences on human-computer interfaces, will introduce the term 'shape resolution' and its ten features, to describe the resolution of an interactive device: in addition to display and touch resolution.
The research, led by Dr Anne Roudaut and Professor Sriram Subramanian, from the University of Bristol's Department of Computer Science, have used 'shape resolution' to compare the resolution... more
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