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Materials

The Integrated Structural Assembly of Advanced Composites (ISAAC) robot that will be commi...

The robot revolution continues at NASA this month as its Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia prepares to bring its Integrated Structural Assembly of Advanced Composites (ISAAC) robot online. One of only three robots like it in the world, it will be formally commissioned on January 26 before being put to work making lighter, stronger composite components for aerospace vehicles.  Read More

MIT researchers have used a superthin film of niobium and nitrogen atoms to aid their disc...

The immutable laws that govern our universe – such as those that reign over the observable world in classical mechanics and those that rule the atomic physics world – are at the core of all of our scientific principles. They not only provide consistent, repeatable, and accurate rules that allow calculations and experiments to be tested or verified, they also help us make sense of the workings of the cosmos. MIT researchers claim to have discovered a new universal law for superconductors that, if proved accurate, would bring the physics of superconductors in line with other universal laws and advance the likes of superconducting circuits for quantum and super low-power computing.  Read More

A carbon and hemp-fiber reinforced component such as this is a cheaper, greener hybrid com...

Built in East Germany, the Trabant 601 was notorious for its many faults – not the least of which was a body made out of Duroplast, a hard plastic made of cotton waste and phenol resins that led those in the West to describe the car as being made of cardboard. However, it now looks as if the Trabant is getting the last laugh as scientists look at ways of making cars out of cotton and other botanical fibers formed into a new class of hybrid composites.  Read More

The surface tension that allows liquid droplets to hold their shape can also be used to ad...

Liquids are softer than solids, so incorporating droplets of a liquid into a solid will always make it weaker ... right? Actually, no. Scientists at Yale University have discovered that if the drops are just the right size, they can actually make the solid stiffer. Their findings could pave the way for composite materials that use liquids for added optical or electrical functionality, yet that don't compromise strength.  Read More

A look at the cathode composite under an electron microscope (Image: HIU)

There's another promising contender in the race to supplant the dominance of lithium-ion and metal-hydride based batteries in the world of energy storage. New research from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology's (KIT's) Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU) details the development of an electrolyte that can be used in new magnesium-sulfur battery cells that would be more efficient and inexpensive than the dominant types of batteries in use today.  Read More

The adhesive material developed at MIT is based on mussel foot proteins and retains its st...

Clingy barnacles might be something of a nuisance for seafarers, but these stubborn shellfish and their relatives could hold the key to a new breed of sticky materials. Engineers from MIT have created waterproof adhesives based on the proteins that give these creatures such qualities, a development that could one day be used in ship repairs or medical applications.  Read More

Rendering of the GE9X fan using a new fourth-generation composite

GE is looking to a new generation of carbon-fiber composites to make the fan blades for its GE9X jet engine. That engine is being developed for the Boeing 777X passenger airplanes that are set to enter service in 2020 and the new blades promise to provide larger, lighter engines with greater fuel efficiency.  Read More

KIST researchers have developed a material that has properties similar to graphene but is ...

For all the attention graphene gets thanks to its impressive list of properties, how many of us have actually encountered it in anything other than its raw graphite form? Show of hands. No-one? That's because it is still difficult to mass-produce without introducing defects. Now a team at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) has developed a graphene substitute from plastic that offers the benefits of graphene for use in solar cells and semiconductor chips, but is easy to mass-produce.  Read More

Researchers have increased the toughness of various metals by giving them a 'gradient stru...

Steel is a common benchmark against which the strength of materials is measured, with "stronger than steel" a familiar catch cry for those touting the properties of some new space-age material. But now researchers at North Carolina State University have created steel that is stronger than steel using a process that increases the toughness of various metals by altering the microstructures within them.  Read More

In its low-drag configuration, the 'smorph' looks like a golf ball (Image: MIT)

Researchers at MIT have developed a smart curved surface that can morph at will to reduce drag, generating a series of small, evenly spaced dimples that make it resemble the outside of a golf ball. This technology could be used to reduce hurricane damage on some public buildings, as well as increase the aerodynamic and fuel efficiency in cars.  Read More

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