We live in an age of plastics, but even after a century of progress, most polymers still come in a single, homogenous form with basic properties. Now a team of researchers at Northwestern University under the leadership of materials scientist Samuel Stupp have developed a hybrid polymer that combines soft and hard areas like bones and muscles in animals. According to the team, this breakthrough in nanoengineering opens the door to applications ranging from self-repairing materials to artificial muscles.
Self-healing materials that can repair cracks and other damage automatically have been the dream of scientists and engineers for decades, but a team of scientists at Rice University have come up with a new twist. It's a Self-Adaptive Composite (SAC) that is not only self healing, but also has reversible self-stiffening properties that allow it to spring back into shape like a sponge.
Scientists at Rice University, the University of Swansea, the University of Bristol and the University of Nice - Sophia Antipolis have developed a new class of hydrocarbon-based material that they say could be "greener" substitute for fluorocarbon-based materials currently used to repel water.
The bandage is getting a major update for the 21st century, with the latest advances coming from engineers at MIT. A team there has developed a gel-like material that is sticky, stretchable and can be combined with sensors, lights and drug delivery systems to create a complete "smart wound dressing."
Ultra-thin and lightweight, yet durable beyond the lab setting. These are the desirable attributes for scientists in pursuit of the next generation of versatile, high-performing wonder materials. Emphasizing one without compromising the others has been a tricky balancing act for engineers, but one team is now claiming a significant breakthrough. Its first-of-its-kind nanoscale plate is one thousand times thinner than paper and still manages to maintain its shape after being bent and twisted by a human hand.
A new process in the development of atomically thin materials could advance the development of transparent LED displays, efficient solar cells and tiny transistors. Engineers at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have found a simple method to fix the defects common to the promising films, called monolayer semiconductors.
Since first being synthesized by Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov at the University of Manchester in 2004, there has been an extensive effort to exploit the extraordinary properties of graphene. However the cost of graphene in comparison to more traditional electronic materials has meant that its uptake in electronic manufacturing has been slow. Now researchers at the University of Glasgow have discovered a way to create large sheets of graphene at a fraction of the cost of current methods.
Combining cornstarch with volcanic ash clay to create a plastic for bone grafts could make the surgical process of bone replacement much simpler in the future. Researchers say the material could replace the need to remove bone from another part of a patient's body, or to use donor cadaver bones that are limited in supply.
New research predicts it is possible to create a material with a new record-setting melting point that would have a good chance of staying intact, even at the insane temperatures in places like the outer edges of Earth's core. Computer simulations run by a team from Brown University find that a precise combination of hafnium, nitrogen and carbon would have a melting point of 4,400 kelvin (7,460° F/4,127° C).
3D printing has made some impressive strides in the past couple of years, allowing makers to create a wide variety of fantastic and unique designs. Despite the overall success, many prints still have limitations when it comes to structure, shape, or articulation. But 3D Systems is about to change all of that with the latest Infinity Rinse-away water-soluble support material.