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MMaterialsgateNEWS - Information & Innovation

Credit: Miguel Caro/Aalto University

Researchers at Aalto University and Cambridge University have made a significant breakthrough in computational science by combining atomic-level modelling and machine learning.

For the first time, the method has been used to realistically model how an amorphous material is formed at the atomic level: that is, a material that does not have a regular crystalline structure. The approach is expected to have impact on the research of many other materials. ‘The secret of our success is machine learning, through which we can model the behaviour of thousands of atoms over long periods of time. In this way, we have obtained a more accurate model’, explains Postdoctoral Researcher Miguel Caro. The team’s simulations reveal that diamond-like carbon film is formed at the atomic level in a different way than was thought. The prevailing understanding over the last... more read more

Credit: Bryant Heimbach/UConn

UConn researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process. To facilitate repair, doctors may install a metal plate to support the bone as it fuses and heals. Yet that can be problematic. Some metals leach ions into surrounding tissue, causing inflammation and irritation. Metals are also very stiff. If a metal plate bears too much load in the leg, the new bone may grow back weaker and be vulnerable to fracture. Seeking a solution to the problem, UConn professor Mei Wei, a materials scientist and biomedical engineer, turned to spiders and moths for inspiration. In particular, Wei focused on silk fibroin, a protein found in the silk fibers spun by... more read more

Credit: JPL

A team of California researchers has developed a robotic gripper that combines the adhesive properties of gecko toes and the adaptability of air-powered soft robots to grasp a much wider variety of objects than the state of the art.

Researchers will present their findings at the 2018 International Conference on Robotics and Automation May 21 to 25 in Brisbane, Australia. The gripper that the team developed can lift up to 45 lbs. and could be used to grasp objects in a wide range of settings, from factory floors to the International Space Station. Geckos are known as nature’s best climbers because of a sophisticated gripping mechanism on their toes. In previous work, researchers at Stanford University and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory led by Professor Aaron Parness recreated that mechanism with a synthetic material called a gecko-inspired adhesive. This material was used primarily on flat surfaces like walls. In... more read more

Credit: Junfei Li

Metamaterial device controls transmission and reflection of acoustic waves

Metamaterials researchers at Duke University have demonstrated the design and construction of a thin material that can control the redirection and reflection of sound waves with almost perfect efficiency. While many theoretical approaches to engineer such a device have been proposed, they have struggled to simultaneously control both the transmission and reflection of sound in exactly the desired manner, and none have been experimentally demonstrated. The new design is the first to demonstrate complete, near-perfect control of sound waves and is quickly and easily fabricated using 3-D printers. The results appear online April 9 in Nature Communications. “Controlling the transmission... more read more

Credit: David Baillot/UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a miniature, ultra-low power injectable biosensor that could be used for continuous, long-term alcohol monitoring.

The chip is small enough to be implanted in the body just beneath the surface of the skin and is powered wirelessly by a wearable device, such as a smartwatch or patch. “The ultimate goal of this work is to develop a routine, unobtrusive alcohol and drug monitoring device for patients in substance abuse treatment programs,” said Drew Hall, an electrical engineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering who led the project. Hall is also affiliated with the Center for Wireless Communications and the Center for Wearable Sensors, both at UC San Diego. Hall’s team presented this work at the 2018 IEEE Custom Integrated Circuits Conference (CICC) on Apr. 10 in San Diego... more read more

Credit: UC3M

Researchers from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), Texas A&M (USA) and the Israeli Institute of Technology have developed new theories for the fragmentation of metallic porous materials that can be applied to structural design in the aerospace, civil security and transportation sectors.

The scientists have analyzed the mechanisms which reside behind the phenomenon of dynamic fragmentationof ductile metallic materials, that is, those that exhibit large permanent deformations when they are subjected to severe mechanical loading (steel, aluminum, tantalum…). Previously it was thought that dynamic fragmentation was basically triggeredby the inherent defects of the material (pores). What this research suggests is thatthe key mechanism which controls dynamic fragmentation may not be the porosity of the metallic material (defects), but the inertia effects. One of the authors of the study, Komi Espoir N'Souglo, pointed out that “we have developed a simple analytical model... more read more

Novel method uses 50 times less solvent than conventional methods

A research team led by the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed an economical and industrially viable strategy to produce graphene. The new technique addresses the long-standing challenge of an efficient process for large-scale production of graphene, and paves the way for sustainable synthesis of the material. Graphene is a two-dimensional material with a honeycomb structure of only one atom thick. Dubbed as the material of the future, graphene exhibits unique electronic properties that can potentially be employed for a wide range of applications such as touch screens, conductive inks and fast-charging batteries. The difficulty to produce high-quality graphene affordably... more read more

Credit: Courtesy of the Light to Energy Team/Los Alamos National Laboratory

Rice, Los Alamos discovery advances case for perovskite-based solar cells

Some materials are like people. Let them relax in the sun for a little while and they perform a lot better. A collaboration led by Rice University and Los Alamos National Laboratory found that to be the case with a perovskite compound touted as an efficient material to collect sunlight and convert it into energy. The researchers led by Aditya Mohite, a staff scientist at Los Alamos who will soon become a professor at Rice; Wanyi Nie, also a staff scientist at Los Alamos, and lead author and Rice graduate student Hsinhan (Dave) Tsai discovered that constant illumination relaxes strain in perovskite’s crystal lattice, allowing it to uniformly expand in all directions. Expansion aligns... more read more

Researchers find an ultrathin layer of aluminum oxide, though solid, can flow like a liquid instead of cracking.

Researchers have found that a solid oxide protective coating for metals can, when applied in sufficiently thin layers, deform as if it were a liquid, filling any cracks and gaps as they form. The thin coating layer should be especially useful to prevent leakage of tiny molecules that can penetrate through most materials, such as hydrogen gas that could be used to power fuel-cell cars, or the radioactive tritium (a heavy form of hydrogen) that forms inside the cores of nuclear power plants. Most metals, with the notable exception of gold, tend to oxidize when exposed to air and water. This reaction, which produces rust on iron, tarnish on silver, and verdigris on copper or brass, can weaken... more read more

Credit: Shenqiang Ren

New research shows how paper-cutting can make ultra strong, stretchable electronics

Like a yoga novice, electronic components don’t stretch easily. But that’s changing thanks to a variation of origami that involves cutting folded pieces of paper. In a study published April 2 in the journal Advanced Materials, a University at Buffalo-led research team describes how kirigami has inspired its efforts to build malleable electronic circuits. Their innovation — creating tiny sheets of strong yet bendable electronic materials made of select polymers and nanowires — could lead to improvements in smart clothing, electronic skin and other applications that require pliable circuitry. “Traditional electronics, like the printed circuit boards in tablets and other electronic... more read more

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