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MMaterialsgateNEWS - Information & Innovation

Credit: Mark C. Hersam

Almost one year ago, borophene didn't even exist.

Now, just months after a Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory team discovered the material, another team led by Mark Hersam is already making strides toward understanding its complicated chemistry and realizing its electronic potential. Created in December 2015, borophene is a two-dimensional, metallic sheet of boron, the element commonly used in fiberglass. Although borophene holds promise for possible applications ranging from electronics to photovoltaics, these applications cannot be achieved until borophene is integrated with other materials. Now Hersam's team -- and a bit of serendipity -- have successfully accomplished this integration. "Integrated circuits... more read more

A new modeling technique determines the parameters that control glass relaxation fluctuations, helping to guide future glass composition development

Next-generation displays will feature increased resolution and performance, but getting there will require a shift to smaller individual pixel sizes and a tightening of the tolerance for glass relaxation. Display manufacturers can account for a certain level of relaxation in the glass, referring to the intermolecular rearrangement, if it's known and reproducible. But fluctuations in this relaxation behavior tend to introduce uncertainty into the manufacturing process, possibly leading to misalignment of pixels within displays. These fluctuations are caused by slight variations in the thermal history of the glass, and unfortunately no one has ever performed a systematic study of what... more read more

A new type of battery developed by scientists at Oregon State University shows promise for sustainable, high-power energy storage.

It's the world's first battery to use only hydronium ions as the charge carrier. The new battery provides an additional option for researchers, particularly in the area of stationary storage. Stationary storage refers to batteries in a permanent location that store grid power - including power generated from alternative energy sources such as wind turbines or solar cells - for use on a standby or emergency basis. Hydronium, also known as H3O+, is a positively charged ion produced when a proton is added to a water molecule. Researchers in the OSU College of Science have demonstrated that hydronium ions can be reversibly stored in an electrode material consisting of perylenetetracarboxylic... more read more

Credit: James Rondinelli

Finding new functional materials is always tricky. But searching for very specific properties among a relatively small family of known materials is even more difficult.

But a team from Northwestern Engineering and Los Alamos National Laboratory found a workaround. The group developed a novel workflow combining machine learning and density functional theory calculations to create design guidelines for new materials that exhibit useful electronic properties, such as ferroelectricity and piezoelectricity. Few layered materials have these qualities in certain geometries -- crucial for developing solutions to electronics, communication, and energy problems -- meaning there was very little data from which to formulate the guidelines using traditional research approaches. "When others look for new materials, typically they look in places where they have... more read more

A new automated system detects cracks in the steel components of nuclear power plants and has been shown to be more accurate than other automated systems.

"Periodic inspection of the components of nuclear power plants is important to avoid accidents and ensure safe operation," said Mohammad R. Jahanshahi, an assistant professor in Purdue University's Lyles School of Civil Engineering. "However, current inspection practices are time consuming, tedious and subjective because they involve an operator manually locating cracks in metallic surfaces." Other automatic crack detection algorithms under development often do not detect cracks in metallic surfaces because the cracks are usually small, have low contrast and are difficult to distinguish from welds, scratches and grind marks. The new system, called CRAQ, for crack... more read more

Credit: Kevin Soobrian

New University of Toronto Engineering research removes a key barrier to large-scale manufacture of low-cost, printable perovskite solar cells

A U of T Engineering innovation could make printing solar cells as easy and inexpensive as printing a newspaper. Dr. Hairen Tan and his team have cleared a critical manufacturing hurdle in the development of a relatively new class of solar devices called perovskite solar cells. This alternative solar technology could lead to low-cost, printable solar panels capable of turning nearly any surface into a power generator. "Economies of scale have greatly reduced the cost of silicon manufacturing," said Professor Ted Sargent, an expert in emerging solar technologies and the Canada Research Chair in Nanotechnology. "Perovskite solar cells can enable us to use techniques already... more read more

A new technique using liquid metals to create integrated circuits that are just atoms thick could lead to the next big advance for electronics.

The process opens the way for the production of large wafers around 1.5 nanometres in depth (a sheet of paper, by comparison, is 100,000nm thick). Other techniques have proven unreliable in terms of quality, difficult to scale up and function only at very high temperatures -- 550 degrees or more. Distinguished Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, from the School of Engineering at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, led the project, which also included colleagues from RMIT and researchers from CSIRO, Monash University, North Carolina State University and the University of California. He said the electronics industry had hit a barrier. "The fundamental technology of car engines... more read more

Credit: Michigan State University

Engineering researchers at Michigan State University have developed the first stretchable integrated circuit that is made entirely using an inkjet printer, raising the possibility of inexpensive mass production of smart fabric.

Imagine: an ultrathin smart tablet that can be stretched easily from mini-size to extra large. Or a rubber band-like wrist monitor that measures one's heartbeat. Or wallpaper that turns an entire wall into an electronic display. These are some of the potential applications of the stretchable smart fabric developed in the lab of Chuan Wang, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. And because the material can be produced on a standard printer, it has a major potential cost advantage over current technologies that are expensive to manufacture. "We can conceivably make the costs of producing flexible electronics comparable to the costs of printing newspapers... more read more

Credit: University of Illinois

Sports analytics--tracking how fast the ball is moving or how players move across the field--is becoming a key component of how coaches make decisions and fans view games.

Data for these analytics is currently sourced through cameras in stadiums and courts and is incredibly expensive to acquire. In an effort to make big data analytics more accessible for the sports industry, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have utilized IoT devices--low-cost sensors and radios--that can be embedded into sports equipment (e.g., balls, rackets, and shoes), as well as in wearable devices. "There's a lot of interest in analyzing sports data though high-speed cameras, but a system can cost up to $1 million to implement and maintain. It's only accessible to big clubs," said Mahanth Gowda, a PhD candidate in computer science and... more read more

Credit: Tour Group/Rice University

Rice University's nanotube-reinforced material can be shaped, is highly conductive

A chunk of conductive graphene foam reinforced by carbon nanotubes can support more than 3,000 times its own weight and easily bounce back to its original height, according to Rice University scientists. Better yet, it can be made in just about any shape and size, they reported, demonstrating a screw-shaped piece of the highly conductive foam. The Rice lab of chemist James Tour tested its new "rebar graphene" as a highly porous, conductive electrode in lithium ion capacitors and found it to be mechanically and chemically stable. The research appears in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Carbon in the form of atom-thin graphene is among... more read more

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