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Archive for the ‘materials’ category

Oct 21, 2021

Study: Recycled Lithium Batteries as Good as Newly Mined

Posted by in categories: materials, sustainability

Cathodes made with novel direct-recycling beat commercial materials.

Oct 18, 2021

Look: New NASA image shows a rare stellar death

Posted by in categories: cosmology, materials

The supernova remanent is located about 19,600 light years away from Earth.


A new image by Chandra reveals a rare supernova remanent created by a white dwarf accumulating material from another star until it explodes.

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Oct 12, 2021

Japanese scientists turn to silkworms for COVID-19 vaccine

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, materials

Circa 2020


TOKYO — As scientists the world over scramble to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, Kyushu University professor Takahiro Kusakabe and his team are working to develop a unique vaccine using silkworms.

In his project, each of the worms is a factory that manufactures a type of protein to serve as the key material for vaccine production. Kusakabe said it is possible to create an oral vaccine and aims to start clinical tests on humans in 2021.

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Oct 10, 2021

Scientists Develop New “Unbreakable Glass” Inspired by Nature — 3x Stronger, 5x More Fracture-Resistant

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, materials

Strongest and toughest glass known developed by McGill University scientists.

Scientists from McGill University develop stronger and tougher glass, inspired by the inner layer of mollusk shells. Instead of shattering upon impact, the new material has the resiliency of plastic and could be used to improve cell phone screens in the future, among other applications.

While techniques like tempering and laminating can help reinforce glass, they are costly and no longer work once the surface is damaged. “Until now there were trade-offs between high strength, toughness, and transparency. Our new material is not only three times stronger than the normal glass, but also more than five times more fracture-resistant,” says Allen Ehrlicher, an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at McGill University.

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Oct 9, 2021

Nifty Chip Adapter Does The Impossible

Posted by in categories: computing, materials

The semiconductor shortage has curtailed the choices available to designers and caused some inventive solutions to be found, but the one used by [djzc] is probably the most inventive we’ve yet seen. The footprint trap, when a board is designed for one footprint but shortages mean the part is only available in another, has caught out many an engineer this year. In this case an FTDI chip had been designed with a PCB footprint for a QFN package when the only chip to be found was a QFP from a breakout board.

For those unfamiliar with semiconductor packaging, a QFN and QFP share a very similar epoxy package, but the QFN has its pins on the underside flush with the epoxy and the QFP has them splayed out sideways. A QFP is relatively straightforward to hand-solder so it’s likely we’ll have seen more of them than QFNs on these pages.

There is no chance for a QFP to be soldered directly to a QFN footprint, so what’s to be done? The solution is an extremely inventive one, a two-PCB sandwich bridging the two. A lower PCB is made of thick material and mirrors the QFN footprint above the level of the surrounding components, while the upper one has the QFN on its lower side and a QFP on its upper. When they are joined together they form an inverted top-hat structure with a QFN footprint below and a QFP footprint on top. Difficult to solder in place, but the result is a QFP footprint to which the chip can be attached. We like it, it’s much more elegant than elite dead-bug soldering!

Oct 6, 2021

Researchers transform water into a metallic material that conducts electricity

Posted by in categories: materials, space

It is a well-known fact that pure, distilled water is an almost perfect insulator and does not conduct electricity. It consists of H2O molecules that are loosely linked to one another via hydrogen bonds. However, any impurities, like salts, in the water enable it to conduct electricity. To create a conduction band with freely moving electrons, water would have to be pressurized to such an extent that the orbitals of the outer electrons overlap, something that only exists deep inside of large planets such as Jupiter.

Now, a team of researchers from 11 institutions around the world have used a completely different approach to create metallic water for the first time. They have achieved that feat by forming a thin layer of gold-colored metallic water on the outside of a droplet of liquid metal and documented this phase transition at the BESSY II facility in Berlin.

The key to the breakthrough was to pair the water with alkali metals, which release their outer electron very easily.

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Oct 5, 2021

New nuclear fusion reactor design may be a breakthrough

Posted by in categories: materials, nuclear energy

“The twisted coils are the most expensive and complicated part of the stellarator and have to be manufactured to very great precision in a very complicated form,” physicist Per Helander, head of the Stellarator Theory Division at Max Planck and lead author of the new paper, told Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory News.

The new design offers a simpler approach by instead using permanent magnets, whose magnetic field is generated by the internal structure of the material itself. As described in an article published by Nature, Zarnstorff realized that neodymium–boron permanent magnets—which behave like refrigerator magnets, only stronger—had become powerful enough to potentially help control the plasma in stellarators.

Oct 5, 2021

Scientists Create Material Made Entirely Out of Electrons

Posted by in categories: materials, particle physics

Scientists managed to arrange the electrons into a honeycomb-like lattice by sandwiching them in an electric field between two atom-thin layers of tungsten compounds, according to research published in the journal Nature last week. The ability to tame them — which scientists accomplished by exploiting the tiniest differences in the atomic structures of the two tungsten layers — marks an incredible experimental achievement that has, until now, eluded the most accomplished labs in physics.

Other researchers have claimed that they created Wigner crystals in the past, and Nature News notes that they had some convincing evidence. But no one’s actually presented imaged evidence of their crystal before, study coauthor and University of California, Berkeley physicist Feng Wang told Nature News in the physicist’s version of a microphone drop.

“If you say you have an electron crystal, show me the crystal,” he said.

Oct 3, 2021

Unplanned Discovery: A Super Material for Batteries and Other Energy Conversion Devices

Posted by in categories: materials, particle physics

Unplanned discovery could lead to future pivotal discoveries in batteries, fuel cells, devices for converting heat to electricity and more.

Scientists normally conduct their research by carefully selecting a research problem, devising an appropriate plan to solve it and executing that plan. But unplanned discoveries can happen along the way.

Mercouri Kanatzidis, professor at Northwestern University with a joint appointment in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, was searching for a new superconductor with unconventional behavior when he made an unexpected discovery. It was a material that is only four atoms thick and allows for studying the motion of charged particles in only two dimensions. Such studies could spur the invention of new materials for a variety of energy conversion devices.

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Oct 2, 2021

Researchers Have Developed a New Kind of ‘Unbreakable’ Glass

Posted by in categories: materials, mobile phones

Researchers at McGill University have developed the strongest and toughest glass ever known. Inspired, in part, by the inner layer of mollusk shells, this glass does not shatter when hit, and acts more like plastic.

The material, once commercially viable, could be used to improve cell phone screens, among other applications in the future.

Interestingly, this may be an example of modern science rediscovering an old technology, now long lost.

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