New Computer Codes Enable Design of Greener, Leaner Aircraft

A computer model that accurately predicts how composite materials behave when damaged will make it easier to design lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft. Innovative computer codes form the basis of a computer model that shows in unprecedented detail how an aircraft's composite wing, for instance, would behave if it suffered small-scale damage, such as a bird strike. Any tiny cracks that spread through the composite material can be predicted using this model. 

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Green Design & Manufacturing, Greenhouse Gases, Materials, Composites, Software, Aerospace, Aviation, News


Researchers Develop Thinnest Electric Generator

Researchers from Columbia Engineering and the Georgia Institute of Technology made the first experimental observation of piezoelectricity and the piezotronic effect in an atomically thin material, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), resulting in a unique electric generator and mechanosensation devices that are optically transparent, extremely light, and very bendable and stretchable.“This material—just a single layer of atoms—could be made as a wearable device, perhaps integrated into clothing, to convert energy from your body movement to electricity and power wearable sensors or medical devices, or perhaps supply enough energy to charge your cell phone in your pocket,” says James Hone, professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia and co-leader of the research.Hone’s team placed thin flakes of MoS2 on flexible plastic substrates and determined how their crystal lattices were oriented using optical techniques. They then patterned metal electrodes onto the flakes. In research done at Georgia Tech, a group led by Zhong Lin Wang, Regents’ Professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Materials Science and Engineering, installed measurement electrodes on the samples provided by Hone’s group, then measured current flows as the samples were mechanically deformed. They monitored the conversion of mechanical to electrical energy, and observed voltage and current outputs.Ultimately, Zhong Lin Wang notes, the research could lead to complete atomic-thick nanosystems that are self-powered by harvesting mechanical energy from the environment. This study also reveals the piezotronic effect in two-dimensional materials for the first time, which greatly expands the application of layered materials for human-machine interfacing, robotics, MEMS, and active flexible electronics.Source Also: Learn more about a Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting Transducer System.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Electronic Components, Electronics, Power Management, Materials, Metals, Sensors, Semiconductors & ICs, News


Ferroelectric Materials Could Revolutionize Data-Driven Devices

Electronic devices with unprecedented efficiency and data storage may someday run on ferroelectrics — remarkable materials that use built-in electric polarizations to read and write digital information, outperforming the magnets that are inside most popular data-driven technology. But ferroelectrics must first overcome a few key stumbling blocks, including a curious habit of "forgetting" stored data. Now, however, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered nanoscale asymmetries and charge preferences hidden within ferroelectrics that may explain their operational limits.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Electronic Components, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics, Power Management, Computers, Materials, Metals, Test & Measurement, Measuring Instruments, News


Fast-Charging Batteries Have 20-Year Lifespan

Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) have developed ultra-fast charging batteries that can be recharged up to 70 percent in only two minutes. The new-generation batteries also have a long lifespan of over 20 years, more than 10 times compared to existing lithium-ion batteries.In the new NTU-developed battery, the traditional graphite used for the anode (negative pole) in lithium-ion batteries is replaced with a new gel material made from titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide is an abundant, cheap and safe material found in soil. Naturally found in spherical shape, the NTU team has found a way to transform the titanium dioxide into tiny nanotubes, which is a thousand times thinner than the diameter of a human hair. The development speeds up the chemical reactions taking place in the new battery, allowing for superfast charging.  The breakthrough has a wide-ranging impact on all industries, especially for electric vehicles, where consumers are put off by the long recharge times and its limited battery life.SourceAlso: Learn about a Screening Technique for New Battery Chemistries.

Posted in: Batteries, Electronics & Computers, Power Management, Green Design & Manufacturing, Materials, Transportation, Automotive, Nanotechnology, News


Hypersensitive Graphene Sensor Could Detect Single Gas Molecule

University of Illinois at Chicago researchers have discovered a way to create a highly sensitive chemical sensor based on the crystalline flaws in graphene sheets. The imperfections have unique electronic properties that the researchers were able to exploit to increase sensitivity to absorbed gas molecules by 300 times.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Electronics, Materials, Sensors, News


New Material Steals and Stores Oxygen from Air

Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have synthesized crystalline materials that can bind and store oxygen in high concentrations.The stored oxygen can be released again when and where it is needed.Depending on the atmospheric oxygen content, temperature, or pressure, it takes seconds, minutes, hours, or days for the substance to absorb oxygen from its surroundings. Different versions of the substance can bind oxygen at different speeds. With this complexity, it becomes possible to produce devices that release and/or absorb oxygen under different circumstances — for example, a mask containing layers of these materials in the correct sequence might actively supply a person with oxygen directly from the air without the help of pumps or high pressure equipment."This could be valuable for lung patients who today must carry heavy oxygen tanks with them. But also divers may one day be able to leave the oxygen tanks at home and instead get oxygen from this material as it 'filters' and concentrates oxygen from surrounding air or water," said Christine McKenzie, professor at the University of Southern Denmark. "A few grains contain enough oxygen for one breath, and as the material can absorb oxygen from the water around the diver and supply the diver with it, the diver will not need to bring more than these few grains."SourceAlso: Read other Materials tech briefs.

Posted in: Materials, Medical, News



This material fills gaps between adjacent PICA blocks. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia The current baseline ablator material for the Advanced Development Program (ADP) for the thermal protection system (TPS) of the Orion heat shield is phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA). PICA is a low-density, low-strength material that must be isolated from mechanically and thermally induced deformations and strains of the underlying heat shield carrier structure. The current invention is being developed to provide a means of eliminating gaps between adjacent PICA blocks by filling the gaps with a compatible, relatively soft material that alleviates thermal and mechanical stresses that would occur in rigidly bonded PICA blocks. An ideal gap material should have comparable thermal and ablative performance to PICA, and have low enough porosity to prevent hot gas flow in the gap. It must be compliant enough that adjacent PICA blocks can move somewhat independently of each other and the underlying carrier structure to reduce thermal and mechanical stresses to acceptable levels.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP