Materials & Coatings

A Piezoelectric Highway? Engineers Take Another Test Drive

Researchers from Lancaster University are looking to pave the next generation of smart road surfaces — with piezoelectric ceramics. When embedded in road surfaces, the tiles convert vehicle vibration into electrical energy.

Posted in: News, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Harvesting, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Thermoelectrics, Ceramics, Materials
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Learning to Crawl: Origami Robot Moves Like an Earthworm

A new mechanical innovation unfolded this month at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a team of engineers built a new kind of crawler robot. The wheel-less design takes inspiration from two unconventional sources: origami and the earthworm.

Posted in: News, Materials, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Robotics
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Researchers Print the Unprintable: Kapton

Kapton, a material used in electronics and aerospace applications, has only been available in sheet form. Researchers from Virginia Tech have found a way to 3D-print a polymer with Kapton's structural characteristics.

Posted in: News, News, Aerospace, Electronic Components, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials
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From Seawater to Drinking Water? Nanotubes Upgrade Desalination Efforts

Looking to nature for inspiration, scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Northeastern University have used carbon nanotubes to mimic the water-filtering proteins of the body. The super-thin graphene cylinders improve water desalination efforts and support a new generation of high-flux membranes.

Posted in: News, Composites, Materials
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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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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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‘Solar Paint’ Produces Energy from Sunlight

A team from Australia’s RMIT University created a “solar paint” that generates its own energy. The sunlight-absorbing substance absorbs and splits water atoms, resulting in hydrogen that could someday be used to power fuel cells and conventional combustion engines.

Posted in: News, Energy Harvesting, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Coatings & Adhesives
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Super-Strong 'Glassy Carbon' is Elastic and Electric

A new compressed form of glassy carbon opens up possibilities for applications requiring low weight and high strength — from aerospace parts to football helmets.

Posted in: News, News, Ceramics
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