Predicting Structure Strength

Researchers from Rice University have developed a novel theory that combines strength, stiffness and toughness of composites into a single design map. The dimensionless computer-drawn maps can be applied to anything from nanoscale to buildings.

“That’s the beauty of this approach: It can scale to something very large or very small,” said Rouzbeh Shahsavari, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and of materials science and engineering.

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Controlling Car Pollution at the Quantum Level

Toyota Central R&D Labs in Japan have reviewed research that might be leading the way towards a new generation of automotive catalytic converters.Image: Bertel Schmitt/CC

Toyota Central R&D Labs in Japan have reviewed research that might be leading the way towards a new generation of automotive catalytic converters.
Image: Bertel Schmitt/CC

Soon we may be able to better control pollution created by cars at the quantum level.

Researchers from the Toyota Central R&D Labs are conducting research that may lead toward a new generation of automotive catalytic converters.

The new catalytic converters differ from the typical toxic fuel filtering systems due to the new catalyst’s focus on metal clusters, which allows it to be controlled at the quantum-level.

“We can expect an extreme reduction of precious metal using in automotive exhaust catalysts and/or fuel cells,” says Dr. Yoshihide Wantanabe, chief researcher at the Toyota Central R&D Labs in Japan.

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What Is Penta-Graphene?

The newly discovered material, called penta-graphene, is a single layer of carbon pentagons that resembles the Cairo tiling, and that appears to be dynamically, thermally and mechanically stable.Image: VCU

The newly discovered material, called penta-graphene, is a single layer of carbon pentagons that resembles the Cairo tiling, and that appears to be dynamically, thermally and mechanically stable.
Image: VCU

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in conjunction with universities in China and Japan have discovered a new structural variant of carbon that they are coining “penta-graphene.”

The new material is comprised of a very thin sheet of pure carbon that is especially unique due to its exclusively pentagonal pattern. Thus far, the penta-graphene appears to be dynamically, thermally and mechanically stable.

“The three last important forms of carbon that have been discovered were fullerene, the nanotube and graphene. Each one of them has unique structure. Penta-graphene will belong in that category,” said the paper’s senior author and distinguished professor in the Department of Physics at VCU, Puru Jena in a press release.

The inspiration for this new development came from the pattern of the tiles found paving the streets of Cairo. Professor at Peking University and adjunct professor at VCU, Qian Wang, got the inspiration that inevitably led to penta-graphene while dining in Beijing.

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Sensors Make ‘Sixth Sense’ Possible

Scientists from Germany and Japan have developed a new magnetic sensor, which is thin, robust and pliable enough to be smoothly adapted to human skin, even to the most flexible part of the human palm.Image: IFW Dresden

Scientists from Germany and Japan have developed a new magnetic sensor, which is thin, robust and pliable enough to be smoothly adapted to human skin, even to the most flexible part of the human palm.
Image: IFW Dresden

Humans possess five basic senses: touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell. While we do not inherently possess any senses beyond those five, it is possible to tap into extended senses through science and technology.

Magnetoception, for example, is a sense which allows bacteria, insects and even vertebrates like birds and sharks to detect magnetic fields for orientation and navigation. While humans cannot organically perceive magnetic fields, scientist have just created a new sensor that may allow us to do so.

Researchers from Germany and Japan have developed a new magnetic sensor that is thin and pliable enough to be adapted to the human skin. This innovation makes equipping humans with magnetic senses a more viable reality.

This from Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden:

These novel magneto-electronics are less than two micrometers thick and weights only three gram per square meter; they can even float on a soap bubble. The new magnetic sensors withstand extreme bending with radii of less than three micrometer, and survive crumpling like a piece of paper without sacrificing the sensor performance. On elastic supports like a rubber band, they can be stretched to more than 270 percent and for over 1,000 cycles without fatigue. These versatile features are imparted to the magnetoelectronic elements by their ultra-thin and –flexible, yet robust polymeric support.

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Silicene Moves Us toward Super-Fast Computers

Researchers have created the first transistor out of silicene, the world's thinnest silicon material.Image: University of Texas at Austin

Researchers have created the first transistor out of silicene, the world’s thinnest silicon material.
Image: University of Texas at Austin

There’s an exciting new development in the world of single-atom thick materials, and surprisingly it doesn’t revolve around graphene.

Instead, scientist have shifted their attention to silicene: an exotic form of silicon that has fantastic electrical properties for computer chips.

Like graphene, silicene is a single-atom thick material that allows electrons to flow through it at amazingly high speeds. However, silicene does not occur naturally like graphene – it instead has to be grown in the lab on a sheet of silver.

Because of the difficulty encountered when attempting to produce silicene, its properties have only been theoretical until now. Recently, Deji Akinwande of the University of Texas at Austin turned his attention to this material and found a way to make a transistor out of silicene.

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Deep-Fried Graphene for Energy Storage

The 5-µm-diameter graphene balls in these scanning electron microscope images contain graphene nanosheets radiating outward from the center.Credit: Chem. Mater.

The 5-µm-diameter graphene balls in these scanning electron microscope images contain graphene nanosheets radiating outward from the center.
Credit: Chem. Mater.

Materials scientists have developed a new technique that could provide a simpler and more effective way to produce electrode materials for batteries and supercapacitors, which could potentially lead to devices with improved energy and power densities.

The researchers have unlocked this new battery technology by exposing tiny bits of graphene to a process that is very similar to deep-frying.

Prior to this development, scientists had difficulty using graphene in electrodes due to the difficulty encountered when processing the material. However, the researchers out of Yonsei University have learned how to harness the material’s electrical and mechanical properties while retaining its high surface are by using an alternative technique.

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Magnetic Graphene

New research could lead to new multi-functional electronic devices.

New research could lead to new multi-functional electronic devices.

Graphene is regarded by many as a wonder material and hosts a multitude of amazing properties, but magnetism has never been one of them. The only way to make the material magnetic is by doping it with magnetic imputrites, but that tends to negatively impact its electronic properties. Now, a team of physicists at the University of California, Riverside decided to address this issue by finding a way to induce magnetism in graphene while also preserving its magnetic properties.

To do this, the team brought a graphene sheet very close to a magnetic insulator – an electrical insulator with magnetic properties.

“This is the first time the graphene has been made magnetic this way,” said Jing Shi, a professor of physics and astronomy, whose lab led the research. “The magnetic graphene acquires new electronic properties so that new quantum phenomena can arise. These properties can lead to new electronic devices that are more robust and multi-functional.”

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Professor Chunlei Guo has developed a technique that uses lasers to render materials hydrophobic, illustrated in this image of a water droplet bouncing off a treated sample.Photo: J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

Professor Chunlei Guo has developed a technique that uses lasers to render materials hydrophobic, illustrated in this image of a water droplet bouncing off a treated sample.
Photo: J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

New super-hydrophobic metals developed at the University of Rochester could mean big things for solar innovation and sanitation initiatives.

The researchers, led by Professor Chunlei Guo, have developed a technique that uses lasers to render materials extremely water repellant, thus resulting in rust-free metals.

Professor Guo’s research in novel not in the sense that he and his team are creating water resistant materials, instead they are creating a new way to develop these super-hydrophobic materials by taking away reliance on chemical coatings and shifting to laser technology.

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corrosion_blog_interfaceAn article by Kenji Amaya, Naoki Yoneya, and Yuki Onishi published in the latest issue of Interface.

Protecting structures from corrosion is one of the most important challenges in engineering. Cathodic protection using sacrificial anodes or impressing current from electrodes is applied to many marine structures. Prediction of the corrosion rates of structures and the design of cathodic protection systems have been traditionally based on past experience with a limited number of empirical formulae.

Recently, application of numerical methods such as the boundary element method (BEM) or finite element method (FEM) to corrosion problems has been studied intensively, and these methods have become powerful tools in the study of corrosion problems.

With the progress in numerical simulations, “Inverse Problems” have received a great deal of attention. The “Inverse Problem” is a research methodology pertaining to identifying unknown information from external or indirect observation utilizing a model of the system.

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computer_simulation2An article by N.J. Laycock, D.P. Krouse, S.C. Hendy, and D.E. Williams published in the latest issue of Interface.

Stainless steels and other corrosion resistant alloys are generally protected from the environment by ultra-thin layers of surface oxides, also called passive films. Unfortunately, these films are not perfect and their Achilles’ heel is a propensity to catastrophic local breakdown, which leads to rapid corrosion of the metallic substructure. Aside from the safety and environmental hazards associated with these events, the economic impact is enormous.

In the oil and gas and petrochemical industries, it is of course usually possible to select from experience a corrosion-resistant alloy that will perform acceptably in a given service environment. This knowledge is to a large extent captured in industry or company-specific standards, such as Norsok M1.

However, these selections are typically very conservative because the limits tend to be driven by particular incidents or test results, rather than by fundamental understanding. Decision-making can be very challenging, especially in today’s mega-facilities, where the cost of production downtime is often staggeringly large. Thus significant practical benefits could be gained from reliable quantitative models for pitting corrosion of stainless steels. There have been several attempts to develop purely stochastic models of pitting corrosion.

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