Material Science News and Discussions

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Material Science News and Discussions

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Entirely new form of carbon follows the lead of graphene
By Nick Lavars
May 20, 2021

Researchers in Europe have developed an entirely new form of carbon, one that bears similarities to the wonder material graphene but with some useful differences. The incredibly thin sheets of material offer some electrical properties that other forms of carbon do not, which could open up new possibilities around electronics and advanced lithium batteries.

Graphene has generated a lot of hype in material science circles due to its incredible strength, flexibility, thinness and lightness, along with its ability to act as an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. As a two-dimensional sheet of carbon, it owes these characteristics to its unique arrangement of atoms that are organized in a honeycomb pattern, and scientists have suspected that alternative arrangements could give other two-dimensional forms of carbon their own unique qualities.
https://newatlas.com/materials/new-form ... -graphene/
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New optimization approach helps design lighter carbon fiber composite materials

by Tokyo University of Science
Researchers from Tokyo University of Science adopt a design approach for carbon fibers that optimizes fiber orientation and thickness to enhance the strength of fiber reinforced plastic, producing lighter plastic in the process that can help build lighter airplanes and automobiles. Credit: Robert Bye on Unsplash

Carbon is vital to the existence of all living organisms, since it forms the basis of all organic molecules that, in turn, form the basis of all living beings. While that alone is pretty impressive, it has recently found surprisingly novel applications in disciplines such as aerospace and civil engineering with the development of carbon fibers that are stronger, stiffer, and lighter than steel. Consequently, carbon fibers have taken over steel in high-performance products like aircrafts, racecars, and sports equipment.
https://phys.org/news/2021-05-optimizat ... fiber.html
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New form of silicon could enable next-gen electronic and energy devices
https://phys.org/news/2021-06-silicon-e ... nergy.html
by Carnegie Institution for Science
A team led by Carnegie's Thomas Shiell and Timothy Strobel developed a new method for synthesizing a novel crystalline form of silicon with a hexagonal structure that could potentially be used to create next-generation electronic and energy devices with enhanced properties that exceed those of the "normal" cubic form of silicon used today.

Their work is published in Physical Review Letters.

Silicon plays an outsized role in human life. It is the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust. When mixed with other elements, it is essential for many construction and infrastructure projects. And in pure elemental form, it is crucial enough to computing that the longstanding technological hub of the U.S.—California's Silicon Valley—was nicknamed in honor of it.
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Machine learning speeds up simulations in material science
https://phys.org/news/2021-06-machine-s ... ience.html
by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Research, development, and production of novel materials depend heavily on the availability of fast and at the same time accurate simulation methods. Machine learning, in which artificial intelligence (AI) autonomously acquires and applies new knowledge, will soon enable researchers to develop complex material systems in a purely virtual environment. How does this work, and which applications will benefit? In an article published in the Nature Materials journal, a researcher from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and his colleagues from Göttingen and Toronto explain it all.
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New method makes generic polymers luminescent
https://phys.org/news/2021-06-method-po ... scent.html
by Hokkaido University
Researchers from Hokkaido University have successfully developed a new method to give luminescent properties to generic polymers, such as polystyrene and polyethylene. The technique, which was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, makes it possible to easily prepare luminescent polymers without using complicated organic synthetic methods.

"Luminescent polymers are widely used in modern society, in applications such as organic lasers, solar cells, sensors and bioimaging, but their preparation often requires multiple chemical synthesis steps, which are both time and labor intensive," explains Professor Hajime Ito, one of the authors of the study and Vice Director of the Institute for Chemical Reaction Design and Discovery (WPI-ICReDD) at Hokkaido University.

To overcome this problem, the research team investigated whether luminescent polymers could be prepared using mechanical force as opposed to sophisticated chemical synthesis.
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Scientists create concrete replacement from food leftovers
https://cbsaustin.com/news/offbeat/scie ... -leftovers
by GRAINGER LAFFAN, Zenger NewsFriday, June 11th 2021
TOKYO (Zenger News) — Those stubborn lumps you struggle to scrape off last night’s dinner plates are inspiring scientists to make new ultra-strong building materials.

Researchers in Japan have created a concrete replacement out of food scraps — and the new compound can be both edible and sweet-smelling.

Associate professor Yuya Sakai at the Institute for Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo and Kota Machida, whose research was part of his graduate studies at the university, spoke about the inspiration behind using food waste for construction.

Food waste amounts to billions of pounds per year, they said, and the cost to the environment is immense. It made sense to test these raw products to see if they could make construction materials with compatible or better strength than concrete.
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Extraordinary new material shows zero heat expansion from 4 to 1,400 K
By Loz Blain
June 11, 2021
https://newatlas.com/materials/thermall ... -material/

Australian researchers have created what may be one of the most thermally stable materials ever discovered. This new zero thermal expansion (ZTE) material made of scandium, aluminum, tungsten and oxygen did not change in volume at temperatures ranging from 4 to 1400 Kelvin (-269 to 1126 °C, -452 to 2059 °F).

That's a wider range of temperatures, say scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), than any other material demonstrated to date, and it could make orthorhombic Sc1.5Al0.5W3O12 (catchy name, eh?) a very handy tool for anyone engineering something that needs to work in extremely varied thermal environments.

Examples of where this might come in handy include things like aerospace design, where components are exposed to extreme cold in space and extreme heat at launch or on re-entry. Famously, the SR-71 Blackbird was designed to expand so much at its Mach 3.4 top speed that it would liberally drizzle fuel on the runway at ground temperatures; the fuel tanks wouldn't even fully seal until they heated up. This new material stays exactly the same volume from close to absolute zero all the way up to comfortably over the heat you'd expect to get on the wing of a hypersonic aircraft traveling at Mach 5.
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Self-healing concrete eats CO2 to fill its own cracks in 24 hours
By Nick Lavars
June 14, 2021
Concrete has a massive carbon footprint, so technologies that boost its performance and enable it to last longer could have profound benefits for the environment. This has led to the development of self-healing concrete that can repair its own cracks, and scientists have now demonstrated an exciting new form of this that makes use of an enzyme found in human blood.

Tiny cracks that form in concrete mightn't pose an immediate problem to the structural integrity of a construction, but as water gets in and the rupture spreads it can greatly compromise its strength. The idea with self-healing concrete is to intervene in this process while the cracks are still tiny, sealing up the material to prevent not just a catastrophic collapse, but expensive maintenance or a complete replacement of the structure.

This field of research has turned up all kinds of interesting potential solutions over the years. We've seen versions that pack their own sodium silicate healing agents, ones that feature bacteria that produce special glue to knit together these cracks, and others that fill up the gaps with fungus. While promising, scientists at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute have conjured up what they believe is a cheaper and even more efficient solution.
https://newatlas.com/materials/self-hea ... od-enzyme/
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New material could remove respiratory droplets from air

by Northwestern University
https://phys.org/news/2021-06-material- ... s-air.html
Although plexiglass barriers are seemingly everywhere these days—between grocery store lanes, around restaurant tables and towering above office cubicles—they are an imperfect solution to blocking virus transmission.

Instead of capturing virus-laden respiratory droplets and aerosols, plexiglass dividers merely deflect droplets, causing them to bounce away but remain in the air. To enhance the function of these protective barriers, Northwestern University researchers have developed a new transparent material that can capture droplets and aerosols, effectively removing them from air.

The material is a clear, viscous liquid that can be painted onto any surface, including plastic, glass, wood, metal, stainless steel, concrete and textiles. When droplets collide with the coated surface, they stick to it, get absorbed and dry up. The coating also is compatible with antiviral and antimicrobial materials, so sanitizing agents, such as copper, could be added to the formula.
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World’s lightest sound insulator could radically reduce jet engine noise
By Loz Blain
June 17, 2021
https://newatlas.com/materials/ultralig ... on-aerogel

This graphene-based aerogel is the lightest sound insulation material ever manufactured, say researchers at the University of Bath, who have demonstrated its ability to damp down noise by up to 16 decibels despite weighing just 2.1 kg per cubic meter (0.13 lb per cubic foot).

You might not think weight is that much of a factor with acoustic foams, but to put this aerogel's density in context, compare it to a conventional polyester urethane sound absorber like Kinetics KUA, which was "developed to absorb maximum acoustical energy using minimum weight and thickness" with a density of 32 kg/m3 (2 lb/ft3). So in a given application, this new "graphene oxide-polyvinyl alcohol aerogel," squeezed into a Nomex honeycomb, would weigh less than one-fifteenth of an equivalent traditional acoustic foam installation.
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