MMaterialsgateNEWS Archive - Information & Innovation

As part of our research and consulting activities we review a number of international sources. Every day, we include several press releases concerning material-based innovations in research, development and application in our portal. Feel free to use this source for your own research.

Credit: University of Leeds

Using the principles of light, Leeds scientists have discovered a new way to measure the strength of modern forms of concrete – giving industry a better way to understand when it could fracture.

Their approach was based on applying a complex light-refracting coating, designed to display stress positions, to the surface of concrete beam samples. The epoxy coating is ‘birefringent’ – it has the ability to split light waves in different directions in relation to the amount of stress acting in those directions, and reflecting back to a photonic camera. The camera then takes a picture showing where the stress levels are most extreme before cracks or fractures occur. While the coating itself is not new, this research project was the first time it had been used to measure shear stress and assess the toughness of concrete against fractures. Dr Joseph Antony from the School of... more read more

Credit: Texas A&M University

From aerospace and defense to digital dentistry and medical devices, 3-D printed parts are used in a variety of industries.

Currently, 3-D printed parts are very fragile and traditionally used in the prototyping phase of materials or as a toy for display. A doctoral student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University has pioneered a countermeasure to transform the landscape of 3-D printing today. Brandon Sweeney and his advisor Dr. Micah Green, associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, discovered a way to make 3-D printed parts stronger and immediately useful in real-world applications. Sweeney and Green applied the traditional welding concepts to bond the submillimeter layers in a 3-D printed part together, while in a microwave. Sweeney began working... more read more

Credit: Illustration by Lei Ren

Rice models reveal nanoindentation can benefit crystals in concrete

Rice University scientists have determined that no matter how large or small a piece of tobermorite is, it will respond to loading forces in precisely the same way. But poking it with a sharp point will change its strength. Tobermorite is a naturally occurring crystalline analog to the calcium-silicate-hydrate (C-S-H) that makes up cement, which in turn binds concrete, the world’s most-used material. A form of tobermorite used by ancient Romans is believed to be a key to the legendary strength of their undersea concrete structures. The finely layered material will deform in different ways depending on how standard forces — shear, compression and tension — are applied, but the deformation... more read more

Credit: American Chemical Society

The greatest challenge in entertaining young children is keeping their toys powered up. Now, one group reports in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering that they are one step closer to battery-free interactive games. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 97 percent of children in the U.S. under the age of 4 have had some type of exposure to a mobile device. These devices are limited by the batteries’ ability to hold a charge. But in order to eliminate the need for batteries, researchers must have a way to produce and store energy. Scientists are investigating options such as solar cells, like those in many calculators; supercapacitors, found in hybrid car batteries;... more read more

Credit: Ken Kelton

Islands of cooperating atoms jam like ice floes as a liquid becomes like glass

We learn in school that matter comes in three states: solid, liquid and gas. A bored and clever student (we’ve all met one) then sometimes asks whether glass is a solid or a liquid. The student has a point. Glasses are weird “solid liquids” that are cooled so fast their atoms or molecules jammed before organizing themselves in the regular patterns of a crystalline solid. So a glass has the mechanical properties of a solid but its atoms or molecules are disorganized, like those in a liquid. One sign of the weirdness of glass is that the transition from liquid to a glass is much fuzzier than the transition from liquid to crystalline solid. In fact, the glass transition is arbitrarily... more read more

Bonded layers of rubber and hydrogel yield tough, slippery, and impermeable coatings.

Catheters, intravenous lines, and other types of surgical tubing are a medical necessity for managing a wide range of diseases. But a patient’s experience with such devices is rarely a comfortable one. Now MIT engineers have designed a gel-like material that can be coated onto standard plastic or rubber devices, providing a softer, more slippery exterior that can significantly ease a patient’s discomfort. The coating can even be tailored to monitor and treat signs of infection. In a paper published today in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials, the team describes their method for strongly bonding a layer of hydrogel — a squishy, slippery polymer material that consists mostly... more read more

Credit: William Kuykendall

Supercapacitors are an aptly named type of device that can store and deliver energy faster than conventional batteries. They are in high demand for applications including electric cars, wireless telecommunications and high-powered lasers.

But to realize these applications, supercapacitors need better electrodes, which connect the supercapacitor to the devices that depend on their energy. These electrodes need to be both quicker and cheaper to make on a large scale and also able to charge and discharge their electrical load faster. A team of engineers at the University of Washington thinks they've come up with a process for manufacturing supercapacitor electrode materials that will meet these stringent industrial and usage demands. The researchers, led by UW assistant professor of materials science and engineering Peter Pauzauskie, published a paper on July 17 in the journal Nature Microsystems and Nanoengineering describing... more read more

Credit: Timothy O'Connor/UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a smart glove that wirelessly translates the American Sign Language alphabet into text and controls a virtual hand to mimic sign language gestures.

The device, which engineers call “The Language of Glove,” was built for less than $100 using stretchable and printable electronics that are inexpensive, commercially available and easy to assemble. The work was published on July 12 in the journal PLOS ONE. In addition to decoding American Sign Language gestures, researchers are developing the glove to be used in a variety of other applications ranging from virtual and augmented reality to telesurgery, technical training and defense. “Gesture recognition is just one demonstration of this glove’s capabilities,” said Timothy O’Connor, a nanoengineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego and the first author of the study. “Our ultimate... more read more

Credit: Courtesy of the Ajayan Group

Rice researchers turn common insulator into a magnetic semiconductor

A little fluorine turns an insulating ceramic known as white graphene into a wide-bandgap semiconductor with magnetic properties. Rice University scientists said that could make the unique material suitable for electronics in extreme environments. A proof-of-concept paper from Rice researchers demonstrates a way to turn two-dimensional hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) – aka white graphene – from an insulator to a semiconductor. The magnetism, they said, is an unexpected bonus. Because the atomically thin material is an exceptional conductor of heat, the researchers suggested it may be useful for electronics in high-temperature applications, perhaps even as magnetic memory devices... more read more

Credit: C.A.N.E.LA.

Novel theory developed by Pitt Chemical Engineering researchers explains how metal nanoparticles form

Although scientists have for decades been able to synthesize nanoparticles in the lab, the process is mostly trial and error, and how the formation actually takes place is obscure. However, a study recently published in Nature Communications by chemical engineers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering explains how metal nanoparticles form. “Thermodynamic Stability of Ligand-Protected Metal Nanoclusters” (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms15988) was co-authored by Giannis Mpourmpakis, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, and PhD candidate Michael G. Taylor. The research, completed in Mpourmpakis’ Computer-Aided Nano and Energy Lab (C.A.N.E.LA.), is... more read more

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