Popular Science articles about Physics & Chemistry

Engineered proteins stick like glue -- even in water

Shellfish such as mussels and barnacles secrete very sticky proteins that help them cling to rocks or ship hulls, even underwater. Inspired by these natural adhesives, a team of MIT engineers has designed new materials that could be used to...

Smallest possible diamonds form ultra-thin nanothreads

<p>For the first time, scientists have discovered how to produce ultra-thin 'diamond nanothreads' that promise extraordinary properties, including strength and stiffness greater than that of today's strongest nanotubes and polymers. The threads have a structure that has never been seen before. A paper describing this discovery by a research team led by John V. Badding, a professor of chemistry at Penn State University, will be published in the 21 Sept. 2014 issue of the journal <i>Nature Materials</i>. The core of the nanothreads that Badding's team made is a long, thin strand of carbon atoms arranged just like the fundamental unit of a diamond's structure -- zig-zag 'cyclohexane' rings of six carbon atoms bound together, in which each carbon is surrounded by others in the strong triangular-pyramid shape of a tetrahedron.For the first time, scientists have discovered how to produce ultra-thin "diamond nanothreads" that promise extraordinary properties, including strength and stiffness greater than that of today's strongest nanotubes and polymers....

Soft robotics 'toolkit' features everything a robot-maker needs

The Soft Robotics Toolkit is an online treasure trove of downloadable, open-source plans, how-to videos, and case studies to assist users in the design, fabrication, modeling, characterization, and control of soft robotic devices.A new resource unveiled today by researchers from several Harvard University labs in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin provides both experienced and aspiring researchers with the intellectual raw materials needed...

Shrink-wrapping spacesuits

For future astronauts, the process of suiting up may go something like this: Instead of climbing into a conventional, bulky, gas-pressurized suit, an astronaut may don a lightweight, stretchy garment,...

Researchers develop unique waste cleanup for rural areas

Washington State University researchers have developed a unique method to use microbes buried in pond sediment to power waste cleanup in rural areas.

For electronics beyond silicon, a new contender emerges

During fabrication, the annealing process injects hydrogen ions into thin films of samarium nickelate (SNO) and yttrium-doped barium zirconate (BYZ). During operation, an electric field moves the charges from one layer to the other, and the influx or loss of electrons modulates the band gap in the SNO, resulting in a very dramatic change in conductivity.Silicon has few serious competitors as the material of choice in the electronics industry. Yet transistors, the switchable valves that control the flow of electrons in a circuit, cannot simply...

Making quantum dots glow brighter

This image shows the experimental set-up researchers used to analyze the behavior of quantum dots placed on metal oxides.  A laser illuminated the quantum dots to make them glow and a spectrometer was used to analyze the light they emitted.Researchers from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of Oklahoma have found a new way to control the properties of quantum dots, those tiny chunks of semiconductor...

'Smart material' chin strap harvests energy from chewing

This is the experimental set up of an energy harvesting chin strap.A chin strap that can harvest energy from jaw movements has been created by a group of researchers in Canada.

Water-based nuclear battery developed by MU can be used to generate electrical energy

Kwon created a long-lasting and more efficient nuclear battery that could be used for many applications such as a reliable energy source in automobiles and also in complicated applications such as space flight.From cell phones to cars and flashlights, batteries play an important role in everyday life. Scientists and technology companies constantly are seeking ways to improve battery life and efficiency. Now,...

The future face of molecular electronics

Zigzag picene is more intact than straight pentacene on silver.The emerging field of molecular electronics could take our definition of portable to the next level, enabling the construction of tiny circuits from molecular components. In these highly efficient devices,...

Run, cheetah, run

Speed and agility are hallmarks of the cheetah: The big predator is the fastest land animal on Earth, able to accelerate to 60 mph in just a few seconds. As...

This is a simulation of spatial distribution of individual nitrogen ions (green) in the interior of a Coulomb crystal of laser-cooled calcium ions (blue).

Graphene sensor tracks down cancer biomarkers

This is an illustration of an epitaxial graphene channel biosensor for detection of
targeted 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) biomarker. (A) Schematic of MLEG
device (B) Thin film of covalently attached nitro phenyl (PhNO2) groups on the MLEG
channel. (C) Attachment of the 'bioreceptor' antibody anti-8-OHdG to the amine
terminated MLEG channel and subsequent detection of 8-OHdG.An ultrasensitive biosensor made from the wonder material graphene has been used to detect molecules that indicate an increased risk of developing cancer.

UChicago-Argonne National Lab team improves solar-cell efficiency

This polymer solar cell consists of a new polymer, called PID2, which was developed in the laboratory of Luping Yu, professor in chemistry at the University of Chicago. The new polymer improves the efficiency of electrical power generation by 15 percent when added to a standard polymer-fullerene mixture.New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers, thanks to a collaboration between scientists in the University of Chicago's chemistry department, the Institute for...

Penn research helps uncover mechanism behind solid-solid phase transitions

Researchers found that some crystals have an easier time of making solid-solid transitions if they take it in two steps.

Surprisingly, the first step of the process involves the parent phase producing droplets of liquid. The liquid droplets then evolve into the daughter phase. In this series of color-coded images, the square-pattern crystal (labeled green) gives rise to liquid 'droplets' (red), which form triangular crystal (blue).Two solids made of the same elements but with different geometric arrangements of the atoms, or crystal phases, can produce materials with different properties. Coal and diamond offer a spectacular...

Toward optical chips

Chips that use light, rather than electricity, to move data would consume much less power -- and energy efficiency is a growing concern as chips' transistor counts rise.

Recruiting bacteria to be technology innovation partners

Biofilms are communities of bacteria (<i>E. coli</i> are depicted here in purple) ensconced in a slimy, but extremely tough matrix of extracellular material.For most people biofilms conjure up images of slippery stones in a streambed and dirty drains. While there are plenty of "bad" biofilms around -- they even cause pesky dental...

Novel capability enables first test of real turbine engine conditions

Manufactures of turbine engines for airplanes, automobiles and electric generation plants could expedite the development of more durable, energy-efficient turbine blades thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Department of...

Nanoribbon film keeps glass ice-free

Rice University scientists who created a deicing film for radar domes have now refined the technology to work as a transparent coating for glass.

Scientists twist radio beams to send data

This is a graphic showing the intensity of the radio beams after twistingBuilding on previous research that twisted light to send data at unheard-of speeds, scientists at USC have developed a similar technique with radiowaves, reaching high speeds without some of the...

'Squid skin' metamaterials project yields vivid color display

The quest to create artificial "squid skin" -- camouflaging metamaterials that can "see" colors and automatically blend into the background -- is one step closer to reality, thanks to a...

X-rays unlock a protein's SWEET side

Sugar is a vital source of energy for both plants and animals alike.

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