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— Electronics

New electrolyte could mean an end to spontaneously combusting lithium batteries

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

Scientists create an inexpensive self-healing polymer

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
— Mobile Technology Review

Review: Rhino Shield impact-resistant smartphone screen film

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
— Science

New polymer spontaneously self-heals at room temperature

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
— Environment

Metabolix engineers plants to make cheaper, cleaner bioplastic

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
— 3D Printing

New technique would allow a petabyte of data on a single disc

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
— Science

Potentially very-useful "polymer opals" change color when stretched

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