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.

Understanding process that creates complex crystals important for energy applications

Many seashells, minerals, and semiconductor nanomaterials are made up of smaller crystals, which are assembled together like the pieces of a puzzle. Now, researchers have measured the forces that cause the crystals to assemble, revealing an orchestra of competing factors that researchers might be able to control. The work has a variety of implications in both discovery and applied science. In addition to providing insights into the formation of minerals and semiconductor nanomaterials, it might also help scientists understand soil as it expands and contracts through wetting and drying cycles. In the applied realm, researchers might use the principles to develop new materials with unique... more read more

UCSB researchers get a nanoscale glimpse of crevice and pitting corrosion as it happens

What affects almost everything made of metal, from cars to boats to underground pipes and even the fillings in your teeth? Corrosion — a slow process of decay. At a global cost of trillions of dollars annually, it carries a steep price tag, not to mention, the potential safety, environmental and health hazards it poses. “Corrosion has been a major problem for a very long time,” said UC Santa Barbara chemical engineering professor Jacob Israelachvili. Particularly in confined spaces — thin gaps between machine parts, the contact area between hardware and metal plate, behind seals and under gaskets, seams where two surfaces meet — close observation of such electrochemical dissolution... more read more

Glass is everywhere. Whether someone is gazing out a window or scrolling through a smartphone, odds are that there is a layer of glass between them and whatever it is they’re looking at.

Despite being around for at least 5,000 years, there is still a lot that is unknown about this material, such as how certain glasses form and how they achieve certain properties. Better understanding of this could lead to innovations in technology, such as scratch-free coatings and glass with different mechanical properties. Over the past few years, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have been looking at properties of stable glasses, closely packed forms of glasses which are produced by depositing molecules from a vapor phase onto a cold substrate. “There have been a lot of questions,” said Zahra Fakhraai, an associate professor of chemistry in Penn’s School of Arts &... more read more

Credit: Wong Lab / Brown University

The temporary structures, which can be degraded away with a biocompatible chemical trigger, could be useful in fabricating microfluidic devices, creating biomaterials that respond dynamically to stimuli and in patterning artificial tissue.

Brown University engineers have demonstrated a technique for making 3-D-printed biomaterials that can degrade on demand, which can be useful in making intricately patterned microfluidic devices or in making cell cultures than can change dynamically during experiments. “It’s a bit like Legos,” said Ian Wong, an assistant professor in Brown’s School of Engineering and co-author of the research. “We can attach polymers together to build 3-D structures, and then gently detach them again under biocompatible conditions.” The research is published in the journal Lab on a Chip. The Brown team made their new degradable structures using a type of 3-D printing called stereolithography... more read more

A group of researchers from Queen’s University Belfast have discovered a stretchy miracle material that could be used to create highly resistant smart devices and scratch-proof paint for cars.

Led by Dr Elton Santos from the University’s School of Mathematics and Physics, an international team of researchers have found superlubricity in a few layers of graphene – a concept where friction vanishes or very nearly vanishes. The experts also found that a few layers of hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) are as strong as diamond but are more flexible, cheaper and lighter. Unbreakable The findings, which have been reported in Nature Communications, reveal that the h-BN layers form the strongest thin insulator available globally and the unique qualities of the material could be used to create flexible and almost unbreakable smart devices, as well as scratch-proof paint for cars. Dr... more read more

Credit: OIST Nanoparticles by Design Unit

As the world shifts towards renewable energy, moving on from fossil fuels, but at the same time relying on ever more energy-gobbling devices, there is a fast-growing need for larger high-performance batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) power most of our portable electronics, but they are flammable and can even explode, as it happened to a recent model of smartphone. To prevent such accidents, the current solution is to encapsulate the anode – which is the negative (-) electrode of the battery, opposite to the cathode (+) - into a graphite frame, thus insulating the lithium ions. However, such casing is limited to a small scale to avoid physical collapse, therefore restraining the capacity - the amount of energy you can store - of the battery. Looking for better materials, silicon offers great advantages over carbon graphite for lithium batteries in terms of capacity. Six atoms of carbon are... more read more

Credit: IFJ PAN

The modern world relies on portable electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, cameras or camcorders.

Many of these devices are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which could be smaller, lighter, safer and more efficient if the liquid electrolytes they contain were replaced by solids. A promising candidate for a solid-state electrolyte is a new class of materials based on lithium compounds, presented by physicists from Switzerland and Poland. Commercially available lithium-ion batteries consist of two electrodes connected by a liquid electrolyte. This electrolyte makes it difficult for engineers to reduce the size and weight of the battery, in addition, it is subjected to leakage; the lithium in the exposed electrodes then comes into contact with oxygen in the air and undergoes self-ignition... more read more

Take a ride on the University of Delaware’s Fuel Cell bus, and you see that fuel cells can power vehicles in an eco-friendly way.

In just the last two years, Toyota, Hyundai and Honda have released vehicles that run on fuel cells, and carmakers such as GM, BMW and VW are working on prototypes. If their power sources lasted longer and cost less, fuel cell vehicles could go mainstream faster. Now, a team of engineers at UD has developed a technology that could make fuel cells cheaper and more durable. They describe their results in a paper published in Nature Communications on Monday, Sept. 4. Authors include Weiqing Zheng, a research associate at the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation; Liang Wang, an associate scientist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering; Fei Deng, a research associate in materials... more read more

Credit: Dauskardt Lab/Stanford University

A new solar cell inspired by the compound eyes of insects could help scientists overcome a major roadblock to the development of solar panels based on a promising material called perovskite.

Packing tiny solar cells together, like micro-lenses in the compound eye of an insect, could pave the way to a new generation of advanced photovoltaics, say Stanford University scientists. In a new study, the Stanford team used the insect-inspired design to protect a fragile photovoltaic material called perovskite from deteriorating when exposed to heat, moisture or mechanical stress. The results are published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science (E&ES). “Perovskites are promising, low-cost materials that convert sunlight to electricity as efficiently as conventional solar cells made of silicon,” said Reinhold Dauskardt, a professor of materials science and engineering... more read more

Credit: Toshihiro Omori (via Nature Communications)

A new heating method for certain metals could lead to improved earthquake-resistant construction materials.

Tohoku University researchers and colleagues have found an economical way to improve the properties of some 'shape memory' metals, known for their ability to return to their original shape after being deformed. The method could make way for the mass production of these improved metals for a variety of applications, including earthquake-resistant construction materials. Most metals are made of a large number of crystals but, in some cases, their properties improve when they are formed of a single crystal. However, single-crystal metals are expensive to produce. Researchers have developed a cheaper production method that takes advantage of a phenomenon known as 'abnormal grain... more read more

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