Researchers in South Korea have made a two-dimensional nitrogen-containing crystal that they say could rival graphene and silicon as a semiconductor material for electronics. The new 2D material could also find applications in energy storage and catalysis, the researchers say.
Lithium ion batteries surround us; they are in our phones, our laptops, and even our cars. However, these batteries are far from optimized in areas such as longer lifetimes and energy densities. One of the major challenges is the weight of the batteries. Lithium-ion batteries today are filled with liquid or gel electrolytes, a weight that can't easily be altered. In addition, the liquid is often flammable, which can be dangerous, especially during the fabrication process. A study published recently in Advanced Functional Materials shows promise for a new all-solid lithium ion battery that could potentially cut down the weight of the batteries.
Polymers have a number of attractive and unique qualities, such as low cost, ease of fabrication, flexibility, and lightweight. However, the low thermal conductivity of polymers limits their applications in situations where heat transfer and dissipation is crucial, such as electronics and transportation (automobiles and planes). Now, researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) have created a polymer blend with 10 times the thermal conductivity of other amorphous polymers, by engineering its thermal properties via molecular design. The researchers published their results recently in the journal Nature Materials.
Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere. They're in our electronics, our smart cars, and our power tools. As their popularity grows, so do concerns over their environmental impact. Many lithium-ion batteries contain toxic chemicals, such as fluorine, making their disposal and storage a costly issue, both environmentally and fiscally. A new study published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition points to at least one way the toxicity of lithium-ion batteries might be decreased. Utilizing first principles' theory, the report suggests that by altering the make-up of the batteries' electrolytes, toxic halogens can be replaced by far more environmentally friendly chemicals.
When electricity was discovered, scientists recognized a similarity between fluid in a pipe and electrons in a wire. Wire showed resistance to flow just as pipes do. Voltage in an electrical system was analogous to pressure in a fluidic system. Current was analogous to flow rate. Now, researchers at the University of Southern California, led by engineering professor Noah Malmstadt, are reversing the metaphor to standardize microfluidic design. They report their research in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy.
Strong adhesives are important for a range of technological and biomedical applications that involve high-moisture settings, such as to help repair ship hulls or heal surgical wounds. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have now taken cues from nature and have designed a waterproof glue that utilizes sticky proteins from mussels and bacterial proteins found in biofilms (slimy films of bacteria that adhere to surfaces). The new material's adhesive energies are 1.5 times greater than the strongest bio-inspired, protein-based underwater adhesives reported in the literature to date, the researchers say.
Biologists tend to analyze the world by using a top-down approach, while physicists prefer to tackle problems from a bottom-up stance. When those two fields meet, however, new insights and discoveries can result. An article published in Science reports just such a breakthrough: the first soft, shape-shifting vesicle ever known to be synthesized in a lab.