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Gizmag puts Rhino Shield to the test

It was just a month ago that we reported on Evolutive Labs' Rhino Shield, a 6-layer transparent polymer film designed to protect smartphone screens. Not only is it said to ward off scratches and fingerprints, but it's also reportedly five times more impact-resistant than Gorilla Glass 2. Evolutive recently sent me a testing kit, so I could see first-hand just how tough it is – without endangering my smartphone in the process. Here's how things turned out ...  Read More

The self-healing polymer devised at CIDETEC can mend itself without a catalyst (Photo: Roy...

A team of scientists at the CIDETEC Centre for Electrochemical Technologies have successfully created the first self-healing polymer that can heal by itself at room temperature, without the need for external catalysts. The material could be used as an industrial adhesive or to replace similar compounds in cars, houses and electrical components to make them more fault-tolerant.  Read More

Metabolix is genetically engineering switchgrass to produce bioplastic and chemicals.

Petroleum-based plastic may be fantastic, but due to the durability that makes the material so popular it may take hundreds of years to break down. Plastic made from renewable biomass, known as bioplastic, is a biodegradable alternative to fossil fuel versions. A company called Metabolix, based in Cambridge (MA), has been working on a technology to genetically engineer plants such as switchgrass to create a biodegradable polymer that can be extracted directly from the plant.  Read More

Pitch drop caught in the act of falling in the Trinity College experiment (Photo: Trinity ...

Is pitch a liquid or a solid? It turns out that while it appears to be a solid at room temperature, it actually flows like a liquid ... a very, very viscous liquid. Why is this interesting? One of the world's longest running experiments, which began nearly 70 years ago at Trinity College Dublin, has now recorded the fall of a drop of pitch on video for the first time.  Read More

Two-photon photoactivator/photoinhibitor allows fabrication of polymer structures one hund...

Data storage and preservation are no longer restricted to the needs of individual users, or even of companies or governments large and small. Instead they are the only remaining approach to preserving the history associated with the evolution of the digital age, and possibly the post-human era to follow. A research team headed by Prof. Min Gu of Swinburne University of Technology has developed a new data storage method that may be of considerable use for such civilization-sized concerns by putting a petabyte of information on a DVD-sized polymer disk.  Read More

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

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 southern half of the stadium will boast the world's largest transparent roof

The Minnesota Vikings American football team has announced the final design for a new stadium to built in the Minneapolis city center that will feature the world’s largest transparent roof. This feat will be achieved using state-of-the-art polymer instead of glass to resist the extremes of Minnesota’s climate, while providing views of the city skyline and a sense of openness for fans and players alike.  Read More

Yaroslav Urzhumov with the 3D-printed invisibility cloak developed at Duke University

Invisibility cloaks have been around in various forms since 2006, when the first cloak based on optical metamaterials was demonstrated. The design of cloaking devices has come a long way in the past seven years, as illustrated by a simple, yet highly effective, radar cloak developed by Duke University Professor Yaroslav Urzhumov, that can be made using a hobby-level 3D printer.  Read More

A 300-micrometer microgripper at the opening of a cathether

When procuring tissue samples for medical diagnosis, doctors have been confined to bulky and invasive forceps. But with recent successful experiments in pigs, we may see doctors switching from the single forceps to hordes of a thousand "microgrippers." These metal discs, each only 300 micrometers in size, are designed to snip bits of tissue when introduced en masse into the body and then be easily retrieved by a doctor. Their small size, added to the fact that they need no batteries, tethers or wires, belies their complexity and autonomy in function, which could allow the microgrippers to provide diagnoses earlier, more easily, and with less trauma.  Read More

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