MaterialsgateNEWS - Information & Innovation
Powered by a chemical reaction controlled by microfluidics, 3-D-printed 'octobot' has no electronics
A team of Harvard University researchers with expertise in 3D printing, mechanical engineering, and microfluidics has demonstrated the first autonomous, untethered, entirely soft robot. This small, 3D-printed robot -- nicknamed the octobot -- could pave the way for a new generation of completely soft, autonomous machines.
Soft robotics could revolutionize how humans interact with machines. But researchers have struggled to build entirely compliant robots. Electric power and control systems -- such as batteries and circuit boards -- are rigid and until now soft-bodied robots have been either tethered to an off-board system or rigged with hard components.
Robert Wood, the Charles River Professor... more
Lehigh-led team collaborating with Michelin Corporation and NSF to develop materials with surface architectures -- inspired by surfaces on feet of grasshoppers or frogs -- that could improve the safety and reliability of tires
The fascination with the ability of geckos to scamper up smooth walls and hang upside down from improbable surfaces has entranced scientists at least as far back as Aristotle, who noted the reptile's remarkable feats in his History of Animals.
But it wasn't until about 15 years ago, when researchers were definitively able to attribute the gecko's powers of adhesion to nanoscale threads in the gecko's toes, that the practical possibilities of biomimicry at microscopic levels caught the imagination of researchers in earnest.
Now, a Lehigh-led team is collaborating with Michelin Corporation and the National Science Foundation to develop materials with surface architectures... more
Nanomaterial combines attributes of both batteries and supercapacitors
A powerful new material developed by Northwestern University chemist William Dichtel and his research team could one day speed up the charging process of electric cars and help increase their driving range.
An electric car currently relies on a complex interplay of both batteries and supercapacitors to provide the energy it needs to go places, but that could change.
"Our material combines the best of both worlds -- the ability to store large amounts of electrical energy or charge, like a battery, and the ability to charge and discharge rapidly, like a supercapacitor," said Dichtel, a pioneer in the young research field of covalent organic frameworks (COFs).
Dichtel and his... more
A future of soft robots that wash your dishes or smart T-shirts that power your cell phone may depend on the development of stretchy power sources.
But traditional batteries are thick and rigid — not ideal properties for materials that would be used in tiny malleable devices. In a step toward wearable electronics, a team of researchers has produced a stretchy micro-supercapacitor using ribbons of graphene.
The researchers will present their work today at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 9,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.
“Most power sources, such as phone batteries, are not stretchable. They are very rigid,” says Xiaodong Chen, Ph.D. “My team... more
A team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers has demonstrated the 3D printing of shape-shifting structures that can fold or unfold to reshape themselves when exposed to heat or electricity.
The micro-architected structures were fabricated from a conductive, environmentally responsive polymer ink developed at the Lab.
In an article published recently by the journal Scientific Reports (link is external), Lab scientists and engineers revealed a strategy for creating boxes, spirals and spheres from shape memory polymers (SMPs), bio-based "smart" materials that exhibit shape-changes when resistively heated or when exposed to the appropriate temperature.
While the approach of using responsive materials in 3D printing, often known as "4D printing," is not new, LLNL researchers are the first to combine the process of 3D printing and subsequent folding (via origami... more
Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have invented a new flexible smart window material that, when incorporated into windows, sunroofs, or even curved glass surfaces, will have the ability to control both heat and light from the sun.
Their article about the new material will be published in the September issue of Nature Materials.
Delia Milliron, an associate professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, and her team's advancement is a new low-temperature process for coating the new smart material on plastic, which makes it easier and cheaper to apply than conventional coatings made directly on the glass itself. The team demonstrated a flexible electrochromic device, which means a small electric charge (about 4 volts) can lighten or darken the material and control the transmission of heat-producing, near-infrared radiation. Such smart windows are aimed at saving on cooling and heating bills for homes... more
Rice University scientists study efficiency of adsorbents for natural gas sweetening
A careful balance of the ingredients in carbon-capture materials would maximize the sequestration of greenhouse gases while simplifying the processing -- or "sweetening" -- of natural gas, according to researchers at Rice University.
The lab of Rice chemist Andrew Barron led a project to map how changes in porous carbon materials and the conditions in which they're synthesized affect carbon capture. They discovered aspects that could save money for industry while improving its products.
The research appears this month in the Royal Society of Chemistry's Journal of Materials Chemistry A.
The lab compared how characteristics of porous carbon, often manufactured in pellet... more
What do squid and jellyfish skin have in common with human skin? All three have inspired a team of chemists to create materials that change color or texture in response to variations in their surroundings.
These materials could be used for encrypting secret messages, creating anti-glare surfaces, or detecting moisture or damage, they say.
The researchers will present their work today at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world's largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 9,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.
"Our experimental materials use cracks, folds or wrinkles to mimic the surface engineering of skin," says Luyi Sun, Ph.D., who heads the research. "These new materials are unique because they change color or transparency when they're... more
Scientists at the UK's Bangor and Oxford universities have achieved a world first: using spider-silk as a superlens to increase the microscope's potential.
Extending the limit of classical microscope's resolution has been the 'El Dorado' or 'Holy Grail' of microscopy for over a century. Physical laws of light make it impossible to view objects smaller than 200 nm - the smallest size of bacteria, using a normal microscope alone. However, superlenses which enable us to see beyond the current magnification have been the goal since the turn of the millennium.
Hot on the heels of a paper (Sci. Adv. 2 e1600901,2016) revealing that a team at Bangor University's School of Electronic Engineering has used a nanobead-derived superlens to break the perceived resolution barrier, the same team has achieved another world first... more
Analysis of thousands of samples reveals that the compound becomes superconducting at an unusually high temperature because local electron pairs form a 'superfluid' that flows without resistance
Since the 1986 discovery of high-temperature superconductivity in copper-oxide compounds called cuprates, scientists have been trying to understand how these materials can conduct electricity without resistance at temperatures hundreds of degrees above the ultra-chilled temperatures required by conventional superconductors. Finding the mechanism behind this exotic behavior may pave the way for engineering materials that become superconducting at room temperature. Such a capability could enable lossless power grids, more affordable magnetically levitated transit systems, and powerful supercomputers, and change the way energy is produced, transmitted, and used globally.
Now, physicists at... more
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