Archive for the ‘materials’ category

Oct 9, 2019

Nanoscale manipulation of light leads to exciting new advancement

Posted by in categories: materials, nanotechnology

Controlling the interactions between light and matter has been a long-standing ambition for scientists seeking to develop and advance numerous technologies that are fundamental to society. With the boom of nanotechnology in recent years, the nanoscale manipulation of light has become both, a promising pathway to continue this advancement, as well as a unique challenge due to new behaviors that appear when the dimensions of structures become comparable to the wavelength of light.

Scientists in the Theoretical Nanophotonics Group at The University of New Mexico’s Department of Physics and Astronomy have made an exciting new advancement to this end, in a pioneering research effort titled “Analysis of the Limits of the Near-Field Produced by Nanoparticle Arrays,” published recently in the journal, ACS Nano, a top journal in the field of nanotechnology. The group, led by Assistant Professor Alejandro Manjavacas, studied how the optical response of periodic arrays of metallic nanostructures can be manipulated to produce in their vicinity.

The arrays they studied are composed of silver nanoparticles, tiny spheres of silver that are hundreds of times smaller than the thickness of a human hair, placed in a repeating pattern, though their results apply to nanostructures made of other materials as well. Because of the between each of the nanospheres, these systems can be used for different applications, ranging from vivid, high-resolution color printing to biosensing that could revolutionize healthcare.

Oct 9, 2019

Light 10 Billion Times Brighter Than the Sun Illuminates 2,000-Year-Old Herculaneum Scrolls

Posted by in categories: materials, neuroscience

Researchers led by the renowned ancient artifacts decoder, Professor Brent Seales, will be using Diamond, the UK’s national synchrotron science facility in the heart of Oxfordshire, to examine a collection of world-famous ancient artifacts owned by the Institut de France. Using this powerful light source and special techniques the team has developed, the researchers are working to virtually unwrap two complete scrolls and four fragments from the damaged Herculaneum scrolls. After decades of effort, Seales thinks the scans from Diamond represent his team’s best chance yet to reveal the elusive contents of these 2,000-year-old papyri.

Prof Seales is director of the Digital Restoration Initiative at the University of Kentucky (US), a research program dedicated to the development of software tools that enable the recovery of fragile, unreadable texts. According to Seales, Diamond Light Source is an absolutely crucial element in our long-term plan to reveal the writing from damaged materials, as it offers unparalleled brightness and control for the images we can create, plus access to a brain trust of scientists who understand our challenges and are eager to help us succeed.?Texts from the ancient world are rare and precious, and they simply cannot be revealed through any other known process. Thanks to the opportunity to study the scrolls at Diamond Light Source, which has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew Mellon Foundation, we are poised to take a tremendous step forward in our ability to read and visualize this material.

Oct 8, 2019

Hemp Batteries Are Even More Powerful Than Lithium and Graphene, New Study Shows

Posted by in category: materials

Hemp is a wonder crop. It’s an incredibly versatile plant that can be used for a huge range of purposes.

Oct 7, 2019

New silk materials can wrinkle into detailed patterns, then unwrinkle to be ‘reprinted’

Posted by in categories: electronics, materials

Researchers at Tufts University School of Engineering have developed silk materials that can wrinkle into highly detailed patterns—including words, textures and images as intricate as a QR code or a fingerprint. The patterns take about one second to form, are stable, but can be erased by flooding the surface of the silk with vapor, allowing the researchers to “reverse” the printing and start again. In an article published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers demonstrate examples of the silk wrinkle patterns, and envision a wide range of potential applications for optical electronic devices.

The takes advantage of the natural ability of fiber proteins—fibroin—to undergo a change of conformation in response to external conditions, including exposure to , methanol and UV radiation. Water and methanol vapor, for example, can soak into the fibers and interfere with hydrogen bond cross links in the silk fibroin, causing it to partially ‘unravel’ and release tension in the fiber. Taking advantage of this property, the researchers fabricated a silk surface from dissolved fibroin by depositing it onto a thin plastic membrane (PDMS). After a cycle of heating and cooling, the silk surface of the silk/PDMS bilayer folds into nanotextured wrinkles due to the different mechanical properties of the layers.

Exposing any part of that wrinkled surface to water or methanol vapor causes the fibers to relax and the wrinkles to flatten. The smooth surface transmits more than 80% of light, while the wrinkled surface only allows 20% or less through, creating a visible contrast and the perception of a printed pattern. The surface can be selectively exposed to vapor using a patterned mask, resulting in a matched pattern in the textured silk. Patterns may also be created by depositing water using inkjet printing. The resolution of this printing method is determined by the resolution of the mask itself, or the nozzle diameter of the inkjet printer.

Oct 5, 2019

The North Face’s high-tech Futurelight jackets are finally here

Posted by in categories: materials, sustainability

Another interesting aspect of The North Face’s latest fabric tech is that it developed it with sustainability in mind. The company said that every Futurelight garment will be produced at a solar-powered factory, and they’ll be made from recycled materials and will go through a process that cuts chemical consumption. In other words, not only are waterproof, lightweight and comfortable, but they’re good for the environment, as well. (Or at least, not as bad as a lot of other synthetic fabrics.)

To celebrate the launch of Futurelight, The North Face built an elaborate art installation in New York City. In it, you could see its new high-tech jackets floating underneath thinly disguised marketing messages like, “WHAT IF WATERPROOF GEAR KEPT YOU DRY INSIDE AND OUT?” and “WHAT IF BREATHABILITY IS THE BREAKTHROUGH.” There was also a giant triangle displaying images of snow-covered mountains and other outdoor scenes. Of course, it was all relevant to what The North Face is known for: making clothes for adventurous people.

The North Face’s Futurelight jacket collection is available now on its site, with the men’s Flight Series jackets starting at a cool $280. And, eventually, The North Face plans to put the technology in other gear, including tents, gloves and more.

Oct 2, 2019

Spiber’s biomaterials stack: From new production facility to fashion runway

Posted by in category: materials

Dress made with 100% Brewed Protein materials

This unique textile comes to the forefront during the climax of the collection – an incredible ombré, cropped cape with hues of white and red. The garment’s texture seems to come alive, exuding a striking, three-dimensional quality.

“In several pieces of the collection, we created 3D patterns in the textiles by utilizing the natural supercontraction of spider silk,” says Meyer.

Oct 2, 2019

This flat structure morphs into shape of a human face when temperature changes

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, materials

Researchers at MIT and elsewhere have designed 3D printed mesh-like structures that morph from flat layers into predetermined shapes, in response to changes in ambient temperature. The new structures can transform into configurations that are more complex than what other shape-shifting materials and structures can achieve.

As a demonstration, the researchers printed a flat mesh that, when exposed to a certain temperature difference, deforms into the shape of a . They also designed a mesh embedded with conductive liquid metal, that curves into a dome to form an active antenna, the resonance frequency of which changes as it deforms.

The team’s new design method can be used to determine the specific pattern of flat mesh structures to print, given the material’s properties, in order to make the structure transform into a desired shape.

Sep 30, 2019

New aluminum batteries for renewables storage

Posted by in categories: energy, materials

The devices, developed by a European research team, are said to have twice the energy density of conventional aluminum devices. The scientists used a cathode made of anthraquinone, instead of one based on graphene, increasing energy density.

Sep 30, 2019

Graphene’s mechanical properties found to have similarities to graphite

Posted by in categories: materials, particle physics

A team of researchers from the U.K., China and Spain has found that graphene exhibits mechanical properties that are similar to those of graphite. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the group describes testing flakes of graphene in a unique way, and what they found.

Graphene is a sheet of carbon atoms just a single atom thick, sometimes called a two-dimensional material. In this new effort, the researchers questioned whether it truly is a by testing it to see if it has 3D mechanical properties.

Prior research has shown that graphene does behave as a 2-D material when looking at its . It also behaves like a 2-D material when testing its thermal properties. But until now, its mechanical properties had not been tested. The reason fis that graphene falls apart nearly instantly when not supported by a substrate, presenting difficulties in testing its mechanical properties without also including those of the substrate. To get around this problem, the researchers tested one of graphene’s by suspending graphene flakes in a viscous liquid, thereby preventing phonons from shaking it apart. The liquid also prevented the flakes from bonding and forming graphite. The team then carried out a common 3D test—applying , in this case, using a diamond anvil cell. Doing so showed (via Raman spectroscopy) that the energy shift that resulted from its phonons was closer to that exhibited by a 3D material (graphite) than a 2-D material.

Sep 26, 2019

NASA visualization shows a black hole’s warped world

Posted by in categories: cosmology, materials

This new visualization of a black hole illustrates how its gravity distorts our view, warping its surroundings as if seen in a carnival mirror. The visualization simulates the appearance of a black hole where infalling matter has collected into a thin, hot structure called an accretion disk. The black hole’s extreme gravity skews light emitted by different regions of the disk, producing the misshapen appearance.

Bright knots constantly form and dissipate in the disk as magnetic fields wind and twist through the churning gas. Nearest the black hole, the gas orbits at close to the speed of , while the outer portions spin a bit more slowly. This difference stretches and shears the bright knots, producing light and dark lanes in the disk.

Viewed from the side, the disk looks brighter on the left than it does on the right. Glowing gas on the left side of the disk moves toward us so fast that the effects of Einstein’s relativity give it a boost in brightness; the opposite happens on the right side, where gas moving away us becomes slightly dimmer. This asymmetry disappears when we see the disk exactly face on because, from that perspective, none of the material is moving along our line of sight.

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