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Archive for the ‘materials’ category

Oct 16, 2018

Molecular semiconductors could be the future of electronics, and this new technique offers a way to mass produce them

Posted by in categories: materials, nanotechnology

Visions for what we can do with future electronics depend on finding ways to go beyond the capabilities of silicon conductors. The experimental field of molecular electronics is thought to represent a way forward, and recent work at KTH may enable scalable production of the nanoscale electrodes that are needed in order to explore molecules and exploit their behavior as potentially valuable electronic materials.

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Oct 12, 2018

Researchers quickly harvest 2-D materials, bringing them closer to commercialization

Posted by in categories: materials, particle physics

Since the 2003 discovery of the single-atom-thick carbon material known as graphene, there has been significant interest in other types of 2-D materials as well.

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Oct 12, 2018

A novel topological insulator

Posted by in categories: materials, particle physics

For the first time, physicists have built a unique topological insulator in which optical and electronic excitations hybridize and flow together. They report their discovery in Nature.

Topological insulators are materials with very special properties. They conduct electricity or light only on their surface or edges, not the interior. This unusual characteristic could provide technical innovations, and topological insulators have been the subject of intense global research for several years.

Physicists of Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU) in Bavaria, Germany, with colleagues from the Technion in Haifa, Israel, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have reported their discovery in the journal Nature. The team has built the first “exciton-polariton topological insulator,” a topological insulator operating with both light and simultaneously.

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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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