Rice lab creates conductive 3D carbon blocks that can be shaped for applications
Rice University scientists have developed a simple way to produce conductive, three-dimensional objects made of graphene foam.
The squishy solids look and feel something like a child’s toy but offer new possibilities for energy storage and flexible electronic sensor applications, according to Rice chemist James Tour.
The technique detailed in Advanced Materials is an extension of groundbreaking work by the Tour lab that produced the first laser-induced graphene (LIG) in 2014 by heating inexpensive polyimide plastic sheets with a laser.
The laser burns halfway through the plastic and turns the top into interconnected flakes of 2D carbon that remain attached to the bottom half. LIG can... more
Jes Linnet, University of Southern Denmark
Researchers demonstrate silver-based electrode films that could be used for flexible touch displays, televisions and solar cells
Researchers have demonstrated large-scale fabrication of a new type of transparent conductive electrode film based on nanopatterned silver. Smartphone touch screens and flat panel televisions use transparent electrodes to detect touch and to quickly switch the color of each pixel. Because silver is less brittle and more chemically resistant than materials currently used to make these electrodes, the new films could offer a high-performance and long-lasting option for use with flexible screens and electronics. The silver-based films could also enable flexible solar cells for installation on windows, roofs and even personal devices.
In the journal Optical Materials Express, the researchers... more
University of Delaware/ Illustration by Joy Smoker
UD engineers convert commonly discarded material into high-performance adhesive
Whether you’re wrapping a gift or bandaging a wound, you rely on an adhesive to get the job done.
These sticky substances often are made from petroleum-derived materials, but what if there was a more sustainable way to make them? Now, a team of engineers at the University of Delaware has developed a novel process to make tape out of a major component of trees and plants called lignin—a substance that paper manufacturers typically throw away. What’s more, their invention performs just as well as at least two commercially available products.
The researchers recently described their results in ACS Central Science, and they are working on more ways to upcycle scrap wood and plants into... more
Ever wonder why paint peels off the wall during summer’s high humidity? It’s the same reason that bandages separate from skin when we bathe or swim.
Interfacial water, as it’s known, forms a slippery and nonadhesive layer between the glue and the surface to which it is meant to stick, interfering with the formation of adhesive bonds between the two.
Overcoming the effects of interfacial water is one of the challenges facing developers of commercial adhesives.
To find a solution, researchers here at The University of Akron are looking to one of the strongest materials found in nature — spider silk.
‘Nature’s best glue’
The sticky glue that coats the silk threads of spider webs is a hydrogel, meaning it is full of water. One would think, then, that spiders would have difficulty catching prey, especially in humid conditions... more
Waste heat can be converted to electricity more efficiently using one-dimensional nanoscale materials as thin as an atom – ushering a new way of generating sustainable energy – thanks to new research by the University of Warwick.
Led by Drs Andrij Vasylenko, Samuel Marks, Jeremy Sloan and David Quigley from Warwick’s Department of Physics, in collaboration with the Universities of Cambridge and Birmingham, the researchers have found that the most effective thermoelectric materials can be realised by shaping them into the thinnest possible nanowires.
Thermoelectric materials harvest waste heat and convert it into electricity - and are much sought-after as a renewable and environmentally friendly sources of energy.
Dr Andrij Vasylenko, from the University of Warwick’s Department of Physics and the paper’s first author, commented:
“In contrast to 3-dimensional material, isolated nanowires conduct less heat... more
A centuries-old materials bonding process is being tested aboard the International Space Station in an experiment that could pave the way for more materials research of its kind aboard the orbiting laboratory.
Sintering is the process of heating different materials to compress their particles together.
“In space the rules of sintering change,” said Rand German, principal investigator for the investigation titled NASA Sample Cartridge Assembly-Gravitational Effects on Distortion in Sintering (MSL SCA-GEDS-German). “The first time someone tries to do sintering in a different gravitational environment beyond Earth or even microgravity, they may be in for a surprise. There just aren’t enough trials yet to tell us what the outcome could be. Ultimately we have to be empirical, give it a try, and see what happens.”
If the disparities between sintering on Earth and sintering in space can be... more
Purdue researchers have observed a way that the brittle nature of ceramics can be overcome as they sustain heavy loads, leading to more resilient structures such as aircraft engine blade coatings and dental implants.
While inherently strong, most ceramics tend to fracture suddenly when just slightly strained under a load unless exposed to high temperatures. Structural ceramic components also require high temperatures to form in the first place through a lengthy process called sintering, in which a powdered material coalesces into a solid mass.
These issues are particularly problematic for ceramic coatings of metal engine blades intended to protect metal cores from a range of operational temperatures. A study published in Nature Communications demonstrates for the first time that applying an electric field to the formation of yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ), a typical thermal barrier ceramic, makes the... more
Bandage is threaded with photonic fibers that change color to signal pressure level.
Compression therapy is a standard form of treatment for patients who suffer from venous ulcers and other conditions in which veins struggle to return blood from the lower extremities. Compression stockings and bandages, wrapped tightly around the affected limb, can help to stimulate blood flow. But there is currently no clear way to gauge whether a bandage is applying an optimal pressure for a given condition.
Now engineers at MIT have developed pressure-sensing photonic fibers that they have woven into a typical compression bandage. As the bandage is stretched, the fibers change color. Using a color chart, a caregiver can stretch a bandage until it matches the color for a desired pressure... more
Imagine a box you plug into the wall that cleans your toxic air and pays you cash.
That’s essentially what Vanderbilt University researchers produced after discovering the blueprint for turning the carbon dioxide into the most valuable material ever sold – carbon nanotubes with small diameters.
Carbon nanotubes are supermaterials that can be stronger than steel and more conductive than copper. The reason they’re not in every application from batteries to tires is that these amazing properties only show up in the tiniest nanotubes, which are extremely expensive. Not only did the Vanderbilt team show they can make these materials from carbon dioxide sucked from the air, but how to do this in a way that is much cheaper than any other method out there.
These materials... more
Fire researchers will tell you that there’s a simple solution for reducing fire hazards: eliminate flammable materials. If it doesn’t burn, the experts say, then there won’t be a fire.
Of course, that option isn’t very practical or realistic; after all, who wants to sit on a block of cement when you can have a cushiony recliner?
A better strategy for reducing the thousands of deaths and injuries and billions of dollars in damage resulting from the more than a million fires each year in the United States is detailed in a new research roadmap published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The roadmap provides guidelines for developing science-based approaches to solving numerous fire problems for multiple materials, from lightweight automobile composites to cross-laminated timbers, and prioritizes the most critical and urgent fire hazards to which... more