The best of 2014

Materials

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

The underside of the reinforced concrete beam has been fitted with two iron-based SMA stri...

Shape memory alloys (SMAs), which when heated are able to return to their original shape after being severely deformed, have found their way into everything from spectacle frames to cars. Now researchers at Empa in Switzerland have developed a new type of SMA that could allow the material to find applications in the building and construction industries.  Read More

Lawrence Livermore Engineer Xiaoyu 'Rayne' Zheng studies a macroscale version of the unit ...

Imagine materials strong enough to use in building airplanes or motor cars, yet are literally lighter than air. Soon, that may not be so hard to do because a team of researchers from MIT and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have developed new ultra-lightweight materials that are as light as aerogel, but 10,000 times stiffer, and may one day revolutionize aerospace and automotive designs.  Read More

The Waste House constructed a the University Of Brighton employs waste materials sourced f...

Can garbage be used as an eco-material to construct a house? That's the intriguing premise behind the recently-completed Waste House project, which is believed by those involved to be the first permanent British building built almost solely from waste and recycled materials. Constructed at the University of Brighton's Grand Parade campus, the Waste House is an ongoing experiment which aims to prove, in the organizer's own words, that "there is no such thing as waste, just stuff in the wrong place."  Read More

Looking for something? Search our 29,949 articles
Editor's Choice
Product Comparisons