One of the world’s strongest natural materials has met one of the strongest artificial materials.

Researchers from the University of Trento, Italy conduced an experiment where they sprayed spiders—producers of naturally strong silk—with carbon-based graphene. Why? Curiosity, of course—the backbone of much great science.

From the experiment, the researchers found that some spiders produced silk that was 3.5 times tougher and stronger than the best naturally produced silk.

(more…)

New Type of Graphene Aerogel (Video)

focus-issue-boxLogan Streu, ECS Content Associate & Assistant to the CCO, recently spotted an article out of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory detailing a new type of graphene aerogel that could improve energy storage, sensors, nanoelectronics, catalysis, and separations.

The researchers are creating graphene aerogel microlattics through a 3D printing process known as direct ink wetting.

This from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory:

The 3D printed graphene aerogels have high surface area, excellent electrical conductivity, are lightweight, have mechanical stiffness and exhibit supercompressibility (up to 90 percent compressive strain). In addition, the 3D printed graphene aerogel microlattices show an order of magnitude improvement over bulk graphene materials and much better mass transport.

(more…)

Mimicking Nature’s Camouflage

In the world of ocean life, the cuttlefish is the king of camouflage. The cuttlefish’s ability to disguise itself, becoming virtually invisible to the naked eye, is an amazing quality that is very difficult to engineer. But with a little inspiration from marine animal, engineers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) have developed a design that mimics patters and textures in a flash.

Within seconds of light exposure, the new structure begins to replicate color and texture of the surrounding environment. While engineers have developed camouflaging materials before, this new design responds to much lower-intensity light and at faster rates than the few predecessors that exist.

“This is a relatively new community of research,” said Li Tan, associate professor of mechanical and materials engineering. “Most of the people (in it) are inspired by the cuttlefish, whose skin changes color and texture, as well.”

(more…)

Engineers have developed a way to visualize the optical properties of objects that are thousands of times small than a grain of sand.Source: YouTube/Stanford University

Engineers have developed a way to visualize the optical properties of objects that are thousands of times small than a grain of sand.
Source: YouTube/Stanford University

In order to develop high efficiency solar cells and LEDs, researchers need to see how light interacts with objects on the nanoscale. Unfortunately, light is tricky to visualize in relation to small-scale objects.

Engineers from Stanford University, in collaboration with FOM Institute AMOLF, have developed a next-gen optical method to produce high-resolution, 3D images of nanoscale objects. This allows researchers to visualize the optical properties of objects that are several thousandths the size of a grain of sand.

The teams achieved this by combining two technologies: cathodluminescence and tomography.

(more…)

People in remote locations can now detect viruses and bacteria without leaving their homes.Image: Scientific Reports

People in remote locations can now detect viruses and bacteria without leaving their homes.
Image: Scientific Reports

A team of researchers has developed a device that aims to provide adequate and efficient health care to those who live in remote regions with limited access to medical professionals.

The device utilizes biosensing to detected such viruses and bacteria as HIV and Staph from remote locations. Patients simply take a small blood or saliva sample and apply it to a film made of cellulose paper—each of which is designed to detect a specific bacteria or virus.

This from Popular Science:

The patient would then use a smartphone app to take a picture of the sample and send it to a doctor for diagnosis. Medical professionals, no matter where they are, would receive the cell-fies and look at the bacterial biomarkers in the sample to diagnose the disease. The film is sensitive, disposable, and much cheaper to produce than similar biosensing films.

(more…)

The Rise of Quantum Dots

Andrea Guenzel, ECS Publications Specialist, recently spotted a CNN article on quantum dots and how they’re poised to change industry.

The technology behind Edison’s incandescent blub may be a thing of the past, but the warm, gentle glow that it produced may be making its way back into your living room.

But we’re not scrapping the advancements in LEDs and regressing to old technology to do this. Instead, we’re turning our attention to quantum dots—the tiny crystal-like particles that are 10,000 times smaller than the width of human hair.

And the dots’ applications do not end simply at bulbs. These tiny bursts of light are expected to impact displays, solar cells, and cancer imaging equipment as well.

(more…)

Plastic + Egg Whites = Bioplastics

After studying the antibacterial properties of bioplastics, researchers found that albumin looks to be the most promising.Image: Cal Powell/UGA

After studying the antibacterial properties of bioplastics, researchers found that albumin looks to be the most promising.
Image: Cal Powell/UGA

Since Leo Baekeland’s invention of Bakelite in 1907, plastic has undergone a lot of transformation. Now, plastic isn’t just used in toys and phones—it also has promising potential in medical applications.

Researchers from the University of Georgia are creating bioplastics from albumin—a protein found in eggs with significant antibacterial properties—to expand plastic’s potential into areas such as wound healing dressing, sutures, catheter tubes, and drug delivery.

“It was found that it had complete inhibition, as in no bacteria would grow on the plastic once applied,” said Alex Jones, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia. “The bacteria wouldn’t be able to live on it.”

The development detailed in this study is critical due the high percentage of hospital-acquired infections.

(more…)

Graphene Light Bulb

When it comes to light bulbs, we’ve seen a lot of transformation since Thomas Edison’s practical incandescent bulb. Since then we’ve delved into fluorescent lights, and more recently, LEDs. Now we’re moving on to the next big thing in light bulbs, and that just may be graphene.

The new bulb is projected to last longer and cut energy use by 10 percent.

(more…)

Chemical Reactions Through Brute Force

"Katsenite" named after McGill researcher who analyzed short-lived material’s chemical structure.Source: McGill University

“Katsenite” named after McGill researcher who analyzed short-lived material’s chemical structure.
Source: McGill University

Have you heard of mechanochemistry yet? Researchers from McGill University are making a name for themselves in this up-and-coming multidisciplinary field with their discovery of a new material unveiled through unconventional means.

Prof. Tomislav Friščić’s research group in McGill’s Department of Chemistry is now producing chemical reactions through milling, grinding, or shering solid state ingredients. In other words, the team is using brute force to elicit these reactions rather than the typical liquid agents.

The group states that their process is similar to that of a coffee grinder. The advantage to using force over liquids is that it avoids environmentally harmful bulk solvents that are typically used when producing chemical reactions.

These findings were published in the paper “In Situ X-ray diffraction monitoring of a mechanochemical reaction reveals a unique topology metal-organic framework”. It all began in late 2012, where researchers reported that they had been able to observe milling reaction in real time – seeing chemical transformations using highly penetrating X-rays.

(more…)

Polymers to Stop Deadly Blood Loss

Blood clots treated with PolySTAT (second from right) had denser fibrin networks, which helps reinforce and strengthen the clots.Image: University of Washington

Blood clots treated with PolySTAT (second from right) had denser fibrin networks, which helps reinforce and strengthen the clots.
Image: University of Washington

University of Washington researchers have developed a new injectable polymer that could keep soldiers and trauma patients from bleeding to death, called the PolySTAT.

The new polymer works to strengthen blood clots once administered into the patient’s bloodstream in a simple shot. The polymer then finds unseen internal injuries and starts working to stop the bleeding.

Researchers believe this could become the first line of defense for anything from battlefield injuries to car accidents. With testing already underway, the polymer has the potential to reach humans in as few as five years.

(more…)

  • Page 8 of 8