Using Spider Silk, Surgeon Hits a Nerve

Christine Radtke, a Professor for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Austria’s MedUni Vienna/Vienna General Hospital, has 21 spiders. The silk obtained from the Tanzanian golden orb-weavers offers Radtke and her team a valuable material to repair nerve and tissue.

Posted in: News, News, Materials, Implants & Prosthetics
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New Class of ‘Soft’ Semiconductors Could Transform HD Displays

A new type of semiconductor may be coming to a high-definition display near you. Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have shown that a class of semiconductor called halide perovskites can emit multiple, bright colors from a single nanowire at resolutions as small as 500 nanometers. The findings represent a clear challenge to quantum dot displays that rely upon traditional semiconductor nanocrystals to emit light. It could also influence the development of new applications in optoelectronics, photovoltaics, nanoscopic lasers, and ultrasensitive photodetectors, among others.

Posted in: News, Materials, Photonics, Semiconductors & ICs
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'Magic' Alloy Could Spur Next Generation of Solar Cells

In what could be a major step forward for a new generation of solar cells called "concentrator photovoltaics," University of Michigan researchers have developed a new semiconductor alloy that can capture the near-infrared light located on the leading edge of the visible light spectrum. Easier to manufacture and at least 25 percent less costly than previous formulations, it's believed to be the world's most cost-effective material that can capture near-infrared light—and is compatible with the gallium arsenide semiconductors often used in concentrator photovoltaics.

Posted in: News, Materials, Photonics, Semiconductors & ICs
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Adhesive Strength Enhancement of Shape Memory Polymer Composite and Metal Joint

This technology has applications in adaptive space structures, smart fabrics, intelligent medical devices, morphing structures, and packaging.

NASA Langley Research Center has developed technology to increase the adhesive strength between shape memory polymer composites (SMPs) and metal alloys. Shape memory materials, including SMPs, have been explored for numerous applications because of their unique shape memory capabilities. These materials can change shape and/or other properties in response to changes in an external stimulus such as stress, temperature, or an electric field.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Alloys, Composite materials, Materials properties, Polymers, Smart materials
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System for Repairing Cracks in Structures

This thermally activated coating heals cracks in metallic materials.

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed an innovative coating to heal cracks in metal components, such as in aircraft and bridges. Currently, the coating is used for in-laboratory repairs of surface cracks. Development continues with the ultimate goal of an in-situ healing mechanism that can work autonomously with structural health monitoring detectors.

Posted in: Briefs, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Aircraft structures, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Thermodynamics, Thermodynamics, Maintenance, Repair and Service Operations, Maintenance, repair, and service operations, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Fatigue
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Corrosion-Inhibiting Self-Expanding Foam

This anti-corrosion, self-expanding foam is designed for use in hard-to-protect internal structures.

Surfaces such as metal and other corrodible surfaces are often exposed to extreme weathering, temperatures, moisture, impurities, and otherwise damaging external forces that accelerate corrosion. Conventional methods of corrosion protection include applying paints and other coatings, such as petroleum-based undercoatings, with a sprayer to the exposed surface. To be effective, the entire exposed surface must be covered or the corrosion process will be accelerated at the unprotected areas. While open-area surfaces may be easier to protect, those surfaces found in internal cavities within an overall framework can be more challenging to protect. Achieving full coverage on internal surfaces can be extremely difficult, and in some cases impossible without drilling several access openings in the structure. These extraneous openings can compromise the strength of the structure as well as create more entryways for water and debris. This increases the opportunity for corrosion to initiate at the edges of the openings.

Posted in: Briefs, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Corrosion, Foams, Metals
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Reusable Sponge Absorbs Oil from Entire Water Column

This sponge can be wrung out, the oil collected, and the material reused in oil spill and diesel cleanup situations.

When the Deepwater Horizon drilling pipe blew out seven years ago, beginning the worst oil spill in U.S. history, those in charge of the recovery discovered that the millions of gallons of oil bubbling from the sea floor weren’t all collecting on the surface where it could be skimmed or burned. Some of it was forming a plume and drifting under the surface of the ocean.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Water pollution, Lubricating oils, Tools and equipment, Materials properties, Marine vehicles and equipment
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Aqueous Solution Dispersement of Carbon Nanotubes

NASA’s Langley Research Center researchers have developed a novel method to disperse carbon nanotubes in aqueous solutions using chemical buffers. By avoiding the common use of surfactants to achieve dispersion, the researchers have provided a means to maintain biocompatibility of the carbon nanotubes, while also providing a means to functionalize the nanotube surfaces for specific biological and chemical activity. One particular example is the use of this approach to functionalize the surface with nano platinum catalysts to use as electrodes for fuel cells or biofuel cells. Additional surface functionality could provide use for biosensors or delivery of functionalized molecules for medical applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Fuel cells, Biological sciences, Chemicals, Nanomaterials
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Crawling Robot is Powered by Moisture

Using an off-the-shelf camera flash, researchers at Jilin University, China, turned an ordinary sheet of graphene oxide into a material that bends when exposed to moisture. They then used this material to make a spider-like crawler and claw robot that move in response to changing humidity, without the need for any external power.

Posted in: News, Materials, Motion Control, Robotics
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Combination Structural Support and Thermal Protection System

Applications include engine firewalls in general aviation aircraft, turbine engines, automobiles, or other ground vehicles; and in building construction for fire protection.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a system that provides both structural support and protection attributes in a failsafe manner. This innovation incorporates the use of a pre-ceramic polymer (PCP) composite structure that when overheated or exposed to fire or plasma will convert to a ceramic matrix composite (CMC), retaining structural integrity and still functioning effectively. When damage causes the thermal protection system (TPS) to fail, the underlying PCP structure converts to a CMC material that has high-temperature structural properties, will not catch fire or melt, and continues to perform its structural function.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Ceramics, Composite materials, Heat resistant materials, Polymers, Reliability, Reliability
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