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SKIN is Calligaris’ first product made by molding Liquid Wood

During Milan Design Week 2012, Italian furniture maker Calligaris has introduced the use of liquid wood, a composite biomaterial consisting of polymer and wood. Producing its first range of chairs, liquid wood is 100% recyclable and produced with raw materials that are easily available and renewable.  Read More

The process can dynamically switch the texture of plastics between patterns ranging from d...

Imagine a pair of rubber gloves whose surface texture could be altered on demand to provide more grip for climbing. Or maybe gloves with "fingerprints" that can be changed in the blink of an eye. They are just a couple of the many potential applications envisioned by researchers at Duke University for a process they have developed that allows the texture of plastics to be changed at will.  Read More

Using a photolithography process, scientists have created flat polymer sheets that bend th...

When the petal of a flower is being formed, its shape is achieved by cells in one area expanding more than cells in an adjacent area. This uneven expansion causes the material to buckle, creating the desired curves and creases. Scientists from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst have taken that same principle, and applied it to flat polymer gel sheets that fold themselves into three-dimensional shapes when exposed to water. Some day, such sheets could serve a number of useful purposes.  Read More

The MinION is the size of a USB memory stick, and obtains both power and computer analysis...

At the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology 2012 conference (AGBT), Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd. announced it is entering the gene-sequencing battle with a disposable DNA sequencer that will sell for under $900 in the second half of 2012. The USB-size sequencer is called the MinION (min-ion), and has already demonstrated the potential to bring genome sequencing and personalized medicine out of the lab and into physicians’ offices.  Read More

Whilst having similar properties to carbon fiber, Tegris won't shatter on impact, is appro...

Spartanburg, South Carolina, is home to one of the largest privately owned chemical and textile research establishments in the world, Milliken & Company. The firm's innovative research that combines textiles and chemistry has now produced a thermoplastic composite called Tegris that is cheap, recyclable and tough. These properties make Tegris an attractive alternative to (or composite partner for) carbon fiber, and it's already proving to have wide ranging applications in the automotive, military and sporting industries.  Read More

The 'smart' material breaks down into non-toxic particles in response to NIR light (Image:...

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have conducted initial testing of a new “smart” plastic material which may bring about new uses in medicine for near-infrared light (NIR). According to early experiments, the plastic material will break down into non-toxic particles in response to lower-power NIR. This may lead to improved treatment of, for example, tumors, or improvements in the release of tracing compounds and imaging agents for improved medical diagnostics applications.  Read More

The Solid Gray backpack features a rigid foldable design, and is made from a single sheet ...

There are loads of precious and fragile electronics in our lives that require appropriate protection when used on-the-go, and therefore the range of gadget-tailored bags is pretty huge. If you need greater protection than a typical case provides, however, a hard shell-equipped backpack may be your best bet. Designed for heavy use, the Solid Gray backpack comes with a rigid body yet is lightweight at the same time, given that it's made from a single sheet of copolymer.  Read More

Newly-created polymers liquefy and fill in scratches when exposed to UV light, then resoli...

Nobody likes scratches in their car's finish. That's part of the reason why over the years, a number of research facilities have tried to develop self-healing paint. These efforts have resulted in products containing things such as microcapsules that burst open when scratched, elastic resins, and even a chemical derived from the exoskeletons of crustaceans. Now, scientists from the U.S. and Switzerland have developed polymers – which could be used in paint – that heal their own scratches when exposed to ultraviolet light.  Read More

Graduate student Brent Carey, positioning a piece of the nanocomposite material for dynami...

If someone does a lot of arm curls at the gym, the typical result is that the bones and muscles in their arms will get stronger. Recently, researchers at Houston’s Rice University inadvertently created a nanocomposite that behaves in the same way. Although the material doesn’t respond to static stress, repeated mechanical stress will cause it to become stiffer.  Read More

The healing process demonstrated in the caoutchouc tree-inspired elastomer (Photo: Fraunho...

When the caoutchouc tree is damaged, liquid latex containing capsules of the protein hevein escapes from inside of it. Those capsules rupture, releasing the hevein, which links the latex particles together and ultimately closes up the wound. The whole bursting/sealing-microcapsules thing is obviously a pretty good idea, as it has been put to use in human technology such as self-healing concrete, electronics, paint and aircraft epoxy resin. Now, German researchers have copied the caoutchouc tree’s modus operandi to create a self-sealing elastic polymer.  Read More

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