Squealing tires and the crunch of impact – when an accident occurs, the steel sheets that form a motor vehicleâ€™s bodywork must provide adequate impact protection and shield its passengers to the greatest extent possible. But the strength of the steels that are used throw up their own challenges, for example when automobile manufacturers have to punch holes in them for cable routing. Struggling to pierce the hard steel, mechanical cutting tools rapidly wear out. And because they also leave some unwanted material on the underside of the steel (burr, as the experts call it), additional time has to be spent on a finishing process. One possible alternative is to use lasers as cutters, but they require a great deal of energy, which makes the entire process time-consuming and costly. Read more
As engineers attempt to integrate electronics into things like clothing and medical devices, they’re increasingly running up against the material properties of the substances we use to make the hardware. A lot of the materials that go into a typical electronic device are brittle, inflexible, and prone to damage, and materials scientists are looking at a variety of options for replacing them. A recent paper in Advanced Functional Materials describes a technique for forming an antenna from liquid metal. The resulting (not-so-) hardware is flexible, self-healing, and can change the frequency that it’s sensitive to based on the stress it’s subjected to. Read more
Researchers from Helsinki University of Technology (Finland), University of New South Wales (Australia), and University of Melbourne (Australia) have succeeded in building a working transistor, whose active region composes only of a single phosphorus atom in silicon. The results have just been published in Nano Letters. Read more
It’s a touchscreen, a solar panel, a computer circuit, and soon, it could be used at home.
Taking advantage of ink’s natural tendency to create “coffee rings,” a group of Israeli scientists has developed a type of ink jet dye that could one day create a range of power-hungry, and power-producing, devices at home.
“Usually these ‘coffee stains’ are a major problem in ink jet printing,” said Shlomo Magdassi, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel and co-author of a new paper in the journal ACS Nano. “I got the idea that we could turn this big problem into a big advantage.”
An aircraft that combines massive freight capacity, high efficiency and low cost is taking shape in a hangar outside Toledo, Ohio, and could be airborne next year.
Ordinary paper could one day be used as a lightweight battery to power the devices that are now enabling the printed word to be eclipsed by e-mail, e-books and online news. Read more