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Archive for the ‘materials’ category

Oct 4, 2018

New fuel cell concept brings biological design to better electricity generation

Posted by in categories: biological, materials

Fuel cells have long been viewed as a promising power source. These devices, invented in the 1830s, generate electricity directly from chemicals, such as hydrogen and oxygen, and produce only water vapor as emissions. But most fuel cells are too expensive, inefficient, or both.

In a new approach, inspired by biology and published today (Oct. 3, 2018) in the journal Joule, a University of Wisconsin-Madison team has designed a fuel cell using cheaper materials and an organic compound that shuttles electrons and protons.

In a traditional fuel cell, the electrons and protons from hydrogen are transported from one electrode to another, where they combine with oxygen to produce water. This process converts chemical energy into electricity. To generate a meaningful amount of charge in a short enough amount of time, a catalyst is needed to accelerate the reactions.

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Oct 2, 2018

SpaceX’s Starlink satellites may use unique solar array deployment mechanism

Posted by in categories: materials, satellites

Spotted on an official SpaceX T-shirt commemorating Starlink’s first two prototype satellites and corroborated through analysis of limited public photos of the spacecraft, SpaceX appears to be testing a relatively unique style of solar arrays on the first two satellites launched into orbit, known as Tintin A (Alice) and B (Bob).

It’s difficult to judge anything concrete from the nature of what may be immature prototypes, but SpaceX’s decision to take a major step away from its own style of solar expertise – Cargo Dragon’s traditional rigid panel arrays – is almost certainly motivated by a need to push beyond the current state of the art of satellite design and production.

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Oct 1, 2018

Defects promise quantum communication through standard optical fiber

Posted by in categories: materials, quantum physics

An international team of scientists led by the University of Groningen’s Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials created quantum bits that emit photons that describe their state at wavelengths close to those used by telecom providers. These qubits are based on silicon carbide in which molybdenum impurities create color centers. The results were published in the journal npj Quantum Information on 1 October.

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Sep 27, 2018

‘Quantum Atmospheres’ May Reveal Secrets of Matter

Posted by in categories: materials, quantum physics

A new theory proposes that the quantum properties of an object extend into an “atmosphere” that surrounds the material.

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Sep 26, 2018

Fungus may be the key to colonizing mars

Posted by in categories: materials, space

The thought of colonizing Mars has science fiction aficionados, scientists, and billionaire entrepreneurs staring up at the night sky with renewed wonder and inspiration. But the key to achieving the lofty goal of colonizing and building extensively on a new planet may not exist out among the stars, but under our feet right here on Earth.

Christopher Maurer, an architect and Founder of Cleveland-based Redhouse Studio, and Lynn Rothschild, a NASA Ames researcher, believe algae and mycelium (the vegetative part of a fungus that consists of a network of fine white filaments) may make the perfect building material on Mars.

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Sep 22, 2018

Japan Has Enough Nuclear Material to Build an Arsenal. Its Plan: Recycle

Posted by in categories: materials, nuclear energy

Japan has spent decades building a facility to turn nuclear waste into nuclear fuel, but neighbors fear it has other plans for its plutonium.

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Sep 22, 2018

Spray-on antennae could usher in a generation of ultra-slim gadgets

Posted by in categories: engineering, materials

Researchers from Drexel University’s College of Engineering invented a material called MXene, that they say perform as well as those currently used in mobile devices.

MXene titanium carbide can be dissolved in water to create an ink or paint and the exceptional conductivity of the material enables it to transmit and direct radio waves, even when it’s applied in a very thin coating.

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Sep 19, 2018

More than ever, our clothes are made of plastic. Just washing them can pollute the oceans

Posted by in category: materials

How much plastic is your washing machine sending out to sea?

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Sep 15, 2018

Mushrooms could solve the war on plastic, says Kew Gardens

Posted by in category: materials

Fungi could be the key to winning the war on plastic, leading scientists at Kew Gardens has said.

The first ever report on the state of the world’s fungi has today revealed that if the natural properties of fungus can be harnessed and developed, plastic could be broken down naturally in weeks rather than years.

Kew Gardens and a team of over 100 scientists from 18 countries have compiled the paper, which shows how different organisms can decompose plastics, clean up radioactive material and even speed up the production of biodiesel.

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Sep 14, 2018

Nuclear pasta in neutron stars may be the strongest material in the universe

Posted by in category: materials

Simulations suggest that the theoretical substance known as nuclear pasta is 10 billion times as strong as steel.

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