Archive for the ‘materials’ category

Oct 6, 2021

Researchers transform water into a metallic material that conducts electricity

Posted by in categories: materials, space

It is a well-known fact that pure, distilled water is an almost perfect insulator and does not conduct electricity. It consists of H2O molecules that are loosely linked to one another via hydrogen bonds. However, any impurities, like salts, in the water enable it to conduct electricity. To create a conduction band with freely moving electrons, water would have to be pressurized to such an extent that the orbitals of the outer electrons overlap, something that only exists deep inside of large planets such as Jupiter.

Now, a team of researchers from 11 institutions around the world have used a completely different approach to create metallic water for the first time. They have achieved that feat by forming a thin layer of gold-colored metallic water on the outside of a droplet of liquid metal and documented this phase transition at the BESSY II facility in Berlin.

The key to the breakthrough was to pair the water with alkali metals, which release their outer electron very easily.

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Oct 5, 2021

New nuclear fusion reactor design may be a breakthrough

Posted by in categories: materials, nuclear energy

“The twisted coils are the most expensive and complicated part of the stellarator and have to be manufactured to very great precision in a very complicated form,” physicist Per Helander, head of the Stellarator Theory Division at Max Planck and lead author of the new paper, told Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory News.

The new design offers a simpler approach by instead using permanent magnets, whose magnetic field is generated by the internal structure of the material itself. As described in an article published by Nature, Zarnstorff realized that neodymium–boron permanent magnets—which behave like refrigerator magnets, only stronger—had become powerful enough to potentially help control the plasma in stellarators.

Oct 5, 2021

Scientists Create Material Made Entirely Out of Electrons

Posted by in categories: materials, particle physics

Scientists managed to arrange the electrons into a honeycomb-like lattice by sandwiching them in an electric field between two atom-thin layers of tungsten compounds, according to research published in the journal Nature last week. The ability to tame them — which scientists accomplished by exploiting the tiniest differences in the atomic structures of the two tungsten layers — marks an incredible experimental achievement that has, until now, eluded the most accomplished labs in physics.

Other researchers have claimed that they created Wigner crystals in the past, and Nature News notes that they had some convincing evidence. But no one’s actually presented imaged evidence of their crystal before, study coauthor and University of California, Berkeley physicist Feng Wang told Nature News in the physicist’s version of a microphone drop.

“If you say you have an electron crystal, show me the crystal,” he said.

Oct 3, 2021

Unplanned Discovery: A Super Material for Batteries and Other Energy Conversion Devices

Posted by in categories: materials, particle physics

Unplanned discovery could lead to future pivotal discoveries in batteries, fuel cells, devices for converting heat to electricity and more.

Scientists normally conduct their research by carefully selecting a research problem, devising an appropriate plan to solve it and executing that plan. But unplanned discoveries can happen along the way.

Mercouri Kanatzidis, professor at Northwestern University with a joint appointment in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, was searching for a new superconductor with unconventional behavior when he made an unexpected discovery. It was a material that is only four atoms thick and allows for studying the motion of charged particles in only two dimensions. Such studies could spur the invention of new materials for a variety of energy conversion devices.

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Oct 2, 2021

Researchers Have Developed a New Kind of ‘Unbreakable’ Glass

Posted by in categories: materials, mobile phones

Researchers at McGill University have developed the strongest and toughest glass ever known. Inspired, in part, by the inner layer of mollusk shells, this glass does not shatter when hit, and acts more like plastic.

The material, once commercially viable, could be used to improve cell phone screens, among other applications in the future.

Interestingly, this may be an example of modern science rediscovering an old technology, now long lost.

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Oct 2, 2021

A New Kind of Concrete Can Repair Itself

Posted by in categories: innovation, materials

A new kind of concrete can self-repair without sacrificing durability! It’s undergoing tests in a structure, to prepare for aggressive environments.

Sep 28, 2021

Light-induced valleytronics in pristine graphene

Posted by in categories: materials, quantum physics

Electrons in two-dimensional hexagonal materials have an extra degree of freedom, the valley pseudospin, that can be used to encode and process quantum information. Valley-selective excitations, governed by the circularly polarized light resonant with the material’s bandgap, are the foundation of valleytronics. It is often assumed that achieving valley selective excitation in pristine graphene with all-optical means is not possible due to the inversion symmetry of the system. Here, we demonstrate that both valley-selective excitation and valley-selective high-harmonic generation can be achieved in pristine graphene by using a combination of two counter-rotating circularly polarized fields, the fundamental and its second harmonic. Controlling the relative phase between the two colors allows us to select the valleys where the electron–hole pairs and higher-order harmonics are generated. We also describe an all-optical method for measuring valley polarization in graphene with a weak probe pulse. This work offers a robust recipe to write and read valley-selective electron excitations in materials with zero bandgap and zero Berry curvature.

Sep 23, 2021

Why Algae Could be the Plastic of the Future

Posted by in categories: materials, sustainability

Go to http://brilliant.org/Undecided to sign up for free. And also, the first 200 people will get 20% off their annual premium membership. As revolutionary as plastics were for changing the course of manufacturing forever, 91% of plastics aren’t recycled. There has to be a better solution. In a previous video I covered how mycelium fungus may be a viable plastic replacement, but there’s another solution starting to bloom… Algae. And it’s showing up in a place you might not expect… your feet. What if I told you we could wear plastic-free flip flops made from algae?Watch Is Mycelium Fungus the Plastic of the Future? https://youtu.be/cApVVuuqLFY?list=PLnTSM-ORSgi4dFnLD9622FK77atWtQVv7Video script and citations:
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Sep 18, 2021

Look: Future colonies on Mars could be made from human blood

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, materials

When combined with other materials, it makes surprisingly strong bricks.

Researchers made a surprisingly strong building material from a combination of human blood, sweat, tears, and dust. It could help construct buildings on Mars.

Sep 17, 2021

High-precision THz time-domain ellipsometry for wide-gap semiconductors

Posted by in category: materials

In semiconductor device applications, there is an increasing demand for semiconductors with very high carrier concentrations. The semiconductor material parameters, namely carrier density and mobility, primarily determine device performance. Hence, it is important to accurately characterize the carrier density and mobility of a semiconductor for the development of its device applications.

The use of THz waves, or with wavelengths of around 300 µm and frequency of about 1 THz, in the nondestructive testing of semiconductors has been continuously expanding. Free carriers in a material absorb THz radiation, which makes it possible to estimate the electrical properties of semiconductors using THz waves.

Researchers at Osaka University, in collaboration with Nippo Precision Co., Ltd., developed a THz time-domain ellipsometry system (Tera Evaluator) that extends the range of carrier concentrations measurable by THz waves up to ~1020 cm-3 and potentially higher by improving the precision of said optical technique. In THz time-domain ellipsometry, linearly polarized THz pulses are incident on a sample and the electric field strength of the reflected THz waves as a function of time is measured. Specifically, the reflected waves polarized in the direction parallel ℗ and perpendicular (s) to the plane of incidence are of interest. The ratio of the p-and s-polarization components yields information on the electric permittivity of the sample, allowing for the evaluation of the carrier density and mobility. As such, unlike THz time-domain spectroscopy, THz time-domain ellipsometry does not require reference measurements through an aperture or standard mirror.

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