Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Science

Prof. William Dichtel and Deepti Gopalakrishnan with samples of the polymer

Detecting bombs in places such as airports could be getting easier, thanks to a new fluorescing polymer. While you might expect the material to glow in the presence of explosives, they actually cause it to stop glowing.  Read More

Researchers are building an all-solid Li-S battery that is cheap, safe, durable, and store...

Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have come up with a promising design for a lithium-sulfur rechargeable battery that is considerably cheaper and energy-dense than standard lithium-ion. Using a solid electrolyte rather than a liquid one, the battery is also testing much safer and more durable than previous designs.  Read More

A statuette of the Stanford bunny made with the resin, before and after being carbonized

Other than putting it in a tiny art gallery, what could you do with a rabbit sculpture that sits just a few micrometers tall? Perhaps not much, although it’s a remarkable example of the level of detail that can be achieved using a new electrically-conductive shapable resin. That same resin could find use in custom-formed electrodes for things like fuel cells, batteries, or even biosensor interfaces used to treat brain disorders.  Read More

Selective UV light keeps beautiful, lush strawberries that way even longer  (Photo: Shutte...

A truism as old as strawberry picking is the observation that the juicier and tastier the strawberries, the more quickly the berries turn to a mushy heap of rot and mold, even in the fridge. An answer to longer fruit storage may come with research showing that selective UV light inhibits both decay and the growth of mold. With new LEDs able to produce specific types of UV light, we might see gadgets for use in the fridge that keep produce fresher longer.  Read More

Columbia University researchers have come up with a way to produce large joined sheets of ...

A study conducted at Columbia University has revealed that even when stitched together from much smaller fragments, large sheets of graphene still retain much of their mechanical properties. The discovery may be a crucial step forward in the mass-production of carbon nanotubes that could be used to manufacture flexible electronics, ultra-light and strong materials, and perhaps even the first space elevator.  Read More

The self-healing-concrete would fill cracks and prevent decay and the corrosion of rebar (...

You’d think that concrete would last forever. After all, it’s pourable stone, so it should hang around as long as the Rock of Gibraltar. But, under the right (or wrong) conditions, concrete decays with alarming speed. To combat this, researchers at the University of Bath in the UK are working on a self-healing concrete that uses bacteria to seal the cracks that lead to decay. In this way, they hope to cut down on maintenance costs and increase the life of concrete structures.  Read More

“4D printing” sees 3D-printed materials self-assemble into different shapes (Image: Skylar...

Molecular self-assembly, whereby molecules position themselves into defined arrangements, is commonplace in biological systems and nanotechnology. But researchers at MIT are working on so called "4D printing" technology that aims to bring the process up to the macro scale, enabling 3D-printed materials to be programmed to self-assemble into predefined shapes and structures. Just imagine buying some flat-pack furniture, bringing it home and enjoying a coffee whilst you watch it assemble itself.  Read More

A sheet made up of the polymer opals

Some of the most vividly colored materials in nature, including things like butterfly wings, don’t obtain their color from pigment. Instead, their internal structure reflects light at a given wavelength, producing a specific color. Opals are another example of something that utilizes this effect. In collaboration with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability, scientists from the University of Cambridge have now copied the colorful nanostructure of the opal. The result is a flexible, colorful material that won’t fade over time, that changes color when stretched, and that could have many applications.  Read More

The new fluid-repellent paper was developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have produced a new kind of paper that repels a range of liquids, including water and oil. The new paper shows significant promise as an affordable and recyclable packaging material, but it's the paper’s potential as an inexpensive biomedical diagnostic tool that has really got the researchers excited.  Read More

A material currently in development works in the same fashion as a scab, to accelerate the...

While you may think that standard bandages already serve as sort-of artificial scabs, the fact is that they mainly just compress and protect the wound – a scab, on the other hand, actually helps it heal. Now, however, scientists are working on a wound dressing that promotes healing in the same fashion as a scab.  Read More

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