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Polymer

The chemical tree got a bit of a shake this week with scientists at IBM announcing the discovery of the first new class of polymer materials in decades. Discovered using a combination of lab experiments and computer modelling, the new plastics have properties that could potentially have a huge impact in manufacturing, transportation, aerospace, and micro electronics. Read More
Dropping your mobile phone can ruin your whole day as you look down at the spiderweb of cracks surrounding a small hole in the once-pristine plastic case. Now imagine watching as those cracks and that hole seal up by themselves, leaving behind a completely healed case. That may sound like science fiction, but it may not be for long with a team of researchers at the University of Illinois having developed a new system that doesn't just repair minor cracks in plastic, but regenerates to heal large holes. Read More
When soldiers or other people sustain eye injuries, retinal detachment and vision loss can result if the eye's vitreous gel isn't kept from leaking out. Given that Band-Aids can't be placed directly on the eyeball, however, a team of scientists from the University of Southern California has created an alternative – reversible eye glue. Read More
In recent years, we've heard about bacteria-killing food packaging materials that incorporate sorbic acid, silver, and montmorillonite clay. One of the latest such developments along those lines is a film that protects meat from spoilage using essential oils or nanoparticles. Additionally, because the film is edible, it could even be incorporated right into meat products. Read More
Graphene may be talked about as the future wonder material (and for that matter, the present one), but it has one critical deficiency. It lacks a natural bandgap, the physical trait that puts the “semi” in “semiconductor," so it has to be doped to become effective. Enter Ni3(2,3,6,7,10,11-hexaiminotriphenylene)2 ... well, you can refer to it as a metal-organic graphene analogue for now. In addition to having a natural band gap, it’s able to self-assemble and represents a whole family of compounds that’s exciting to researchers for its novel properties. Read More
Whether you're manufacturing cars, phones, sports equipment or pretty much anything else, a key part of the design process involves measuring the amount of mechanical stress experienced by different parts of the product. Thanks to research being conducted at the University of California, Riverside, doing so may soon be much easier. Scientists there have created a film that changes color when subjected to pressure, making it easy to see where objects coated with the film may need reinforcement. Read More
Researchers at Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have developed a self-healing polymer that can mend itself and fully restore its mechanical properties in just a few minutes when heated at low temperatures. The material could be used to create self-repairing sealants, scratch-resistant paints, and more reliable fiber-reinforced plastic components. Read More
The advantages of durable, long-lasting electronics are well established and, indeed, desirable in electronic devices large and small. But in what scenario would you want a device to dissolve away leaving no trace? The truth is, from military to medicine, "transient electronics" has a great many potential applications. The latest research team to shift its focus to this emerging field is a group from Iowa State University, which is developing materials that can melt away when remotely triggered. Read More
Last year, lithium-ion battery fires became a hot topic, pardon the inescapable pun, with both a Tesla automobile and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner succumbing to fires. In cross-disciplinary research at the University of North Carolina (UNC), a compound being studied to prevent marine life from sticking to ships may also be the solvent (and the solution) to keep lithium ion batteries from catching alight when they overheat. Read More

Stretchy, self-healing paints and other coatings recently took a step closer to common use, thanks to research being conducted at the University of Illinois. Scientists there have used "off-the-shelf" components to create a polymer that melds back together after being cut in half, without the addition of catalysts or other chemicals. Read More

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