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MMaterialsgateNEWS - Information & Innovation

High-strength, lightweight steels can finally be processed on an industrial scale, thanks to a breakthrough in controlling brittle stages – new research from WMG, University of Warwick

- New processing route discovered - allows low density steel-based alloys to be produced with maximum strength, whilst remaining durable and flexible – largely impossible until now - In certain steels, brittle phases occur during production - kappa-carbide (k-carbide) and B2 intermetallic - which make them hard but stiff and unworkable - At higher annealing temperatures - 900 C to 1200 C – brittles stages controlled, allowing steels to retain ductility - Research could lead to breakthrough in safer, greener, more fuel-efficient and streamlined cars Dr Alireza Rahnama has developed a new processing route which allows low density steel-based alloys to be produced with maximum strength... more read more

New research into the largely unstudied area of heterostructural alloys could lead to greater materials control and in turn better semiconductors, advances in nanotechnology for pharmaceuticals and improved metallic glasses for industrial applications.

Heterostructural alloys are blends of compounds made from materials that don’t share the same atom arrangement. Conventional alloys are isostructural, meaning the compounds they consist of, known as the end members, have the same crystal structure. “Alloys are all around us,” said study co-author Janet Tate, a physicist at Oregon State University. “An example of an istostructural alloy is an LED; you have a semiconductor like aluminum gallium arsenide, dope it with a particular material and make it emit light, and change the color of the light by changing the relative concentration of aluminum and gallium.” Structure and composition are the two means of controlling the behavior... more read more

Credit: Argonne National Laboratory

A team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has identified a nickel oxide compound as an unconventional but promising candidate material for high-temperature superconductivity.

The team successfully synthesized single crystals of a metallic trilayer nickelate compound, a feat the researchers believe to be a first. This nickel oxide compound does not superconduct, said John Mitchell, an Argonne Distinguished Fellow and associate director of the laboratory’s Materials Science Division, who led the project, which combined crystal growth, X-ray spectroscopy, and computational theory. But, he added, “It’s poised for superconductivity in a way not found in other nickel oxides. We’re very hopeful that all we have to do now is find the right electron concentration.” Mitchell and seven co-authors announced their results in this week’s issue of Nature Physics... more read more

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

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a breakthrough in electrolyte chemistry that enables lithium batteries to run at temperatures as low as -60 degrees Celsius with excellent performance — in comparison, today’s lithium-ion batteries stop working at -20 degrees Celsius.

The new electrolytes also enable electrochemical capacitors to run as low as -80 degrees Celsius — their current low temperature limit is -40 degrees Celsius. While the technology enables extreme low temperature operation, high performance at room temperature is still maintained. The new electrolyte chemistry could also increase the energy density and improve the safety of lithium batteries and electrochemical capacitors. The work will be published online by the journal Science on Thursday, 15 June, 2017. The technology could allow electric vehicles in cold climates to travel farther on a single charge, alleviating range anxiety during the winter in places like Boston. The technology... more read more

Credit: American Chemical Society

Inspired by the varying colors that gleam off of beetle shells, scientists have developed color-shifting nanoparticles that can change hue even after being embedded into a material. A report on the new, inexpensive technique, which could lead to the production of easier-to-read sensors and anti-tampering tags, appears in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. The shells, or exoskeletons, of beetles are covered with stacks of crystalline-like shapes that scatter light and produce dazzling colors. In some cases, these colors can change with just a slight shift of the viewing angle. Known as structural colors, scientists have long been interested in replicating them for use in paints, dyes... more read more

In what could be a major step forward for a new generation of solar cells called "concentrator photovoltaics," University of Michigan researchers have developed a new semiconductor alloy that can capture the near-infrared light located on the leading edge of the visible light spectrum.

Easier to manufacture and at least 25 percent less costly than previous formulations, it's believed to be the world's most cost-effective material that can capture near-infrared light—and is compatible with the gallium arsenide semiconductors often used in concentrator photovoltaics. Concentrator photovoltaics gather and focus sunlight onto small, high-efficiency solar cells made of gallium arsenide or germanium semiconductors. They're on track to achieve efficiency rates of over 50 percent, while conventional flat-panel silicon solar cells top out in the mid-20s. "Flat-panel silicon is basically maxed out in terms of efficiency," said Rachel Goldman, U-M professor... more read more

Credit: Joseph Andrews, Duke University

Carbon nanotubes bring tire wear monitoring into the car

Electrical engineers at Duke University have invented an inexpensive printed sensor that can monitor the tread of car tires in real time, warning drivers when the rubber meeting the road has grown dangerously thin. If adopted, the device will increase safety, improve vehicle performance and reduce fuel consumption. The group hopes that the tire wear sensor will be the first of many that could disrupt the $2 billion tire and wheel control sensor market. In collaboration with Fetch Automotive Design Group, the Duke researchers have demonstrated a design using metallic carbon nanotubes (tiny cylinders of carbon atoms just one-billionth of a meter in diameter) that can track millimeter-scale... more read more

Credit: Ella Marushchenko and Alexander Tokarev/Ella Maru Studios

Rutgers researchers invent technology that could lead to wearable biosensors

Imagine wearing a device that continuously analyzes your sweat or blood for different types of biomarkers, such as proteins that show you may have breast cancer or lung cancer. Rutgers engineers have invented biosensor technology – known as a lab on a chip – that could be used in hand-held or wearable devices to monitor your health and exposure to dangerous bacteria, viruses and pollutants. “This is really important in the context of personalized medicine or personalized health monitoring,” said Mehdi Javanmard, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “Our technology enables true labs on chips. We’re... more read more

Researchers at the University of Liverpool have developed a computer-guided strategy that led to the discovery of two new materials in the laboratory.

In a paper published in Nature, researchers describe an algorithm that uses chemical understanding of the structures of known materials to suggest which new combinations of atoms will create a new material that is stable and can be synthesised. The researchers were then able to create two new materials in the laboratory by experimental synthesis guided by the computer calculations. Discovering new materials has been a slow and intensive process as there are millions of possible combinations of molecules and atoms. Exactly which combinations of elements will form materials is controlled by the structure that the material adopts (the arrangement of the atoms in space), which in turn depends... more read more

Credit: Courtesy of the Hartgerink Research Group

Rice chemists develop hydrogel strings using compound found in sea creatures

Rice University chemists can thank the mussel for putting the muscle into their new macroscale scaffold fibers. The Rice lab of chemist Jeffrey Hartgerink had already figured out how to make biocompatible nanofibers out of synthetic peptides. In new work, the lab is using an amino acid found in the sticky feet of mussels to make those fibers line up into strong hydrogel strings. Hartgerink and Rice graduate student I-Che Li introduced their room-temperature method this month in an open-access paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The hydrogel strings can be picked up and moved with tweezers, and Li said he expects they will help labs gain better control over the growth... more read more

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