Material Research: A Cornucopia of Novel Materials with Wonderful Properties
Think of materials and matter and immediately Mother Nature comes to mind. Yet nowadays mankind has overtaken its creating entity by going on to develop such flabbergasting materials that defy the imagination.
From aluminum bubble wrap to titanium foam and graphene aerogel, man has really done it as far as invention is concerned. Also artificial spider silk and molecular superglue are other media which are man-made in nature.
A new material has been made that may generate electricity via the difference between heat and cold air. This has been made using a combo of terbium, cobalt and calcium. The difference in temperature between the two sides of this matrix allows for a charge to be generated. Also the difference in temperature may even be less than a single degree for a charge to be generated.
While cadmium, telluride and other mercury-based materials also do the job, they are toxic while this material is clean and does not pollute the environment. It could be used in jewelry or in a cooking pan to charge a mobile device. It is indeed a dream of mankind which has become a reality.
A sand worm found in Nature has inspired a tough flexible material that may have future uses in the field of soft robotics. The material resembles proteins. Basically, it reacts to pH levels and ion concentration just like the worm. The worm’s jaws are very tough and expand and contract based upon the circumstances in the environment.
This material inspired from the consistency of the worm’s jaws may be used in making the actuators and sensors of robots. No batteries or remote controls will be needed once this material is used in its right context by the scientists.
Scientists will create flexible and highly efficient LED screens in the future. These will be made using scotch tape and lasers. They involve the mixing of molybdenum disulfide and rhenium disulfide. These two combine to become semiconductors and are flexible to boot. Then the electrons in this mixture act like partially fixed and partially movable bits and pieces.
The final stroke of creativity used by the scientists is called the scotch tape method. It consists of using a scotch tape to peel a layer off the crystal base and then refold the tape several times so that it traps the substrate like oil on top of water. The stacking of the layers and the van der Waals forces that will act allow the product to act like a super-slim LED screen. This has many future applications.
Scientists have managed to make artificial skin that can detect temperature differences easily. This was a chance occurrence. While they were busy making artificial wood in the lab, they literally stumbled upon the fake skin. This skin is made from pectin and water. Pectin is a common substance that is used to make jams and jellies. It is a part of plant cell walls.
This artificial skin was very economical to make. It uses a multimeter to detect subtle differences in temperature. The mechanism is the same as is used by a snake, known as a pit viper, to hunt its prey in conditions of zero light. This fake skin will have many applications in the future.
The churning out of highly magnetic materials has a great deal of usage in computer technologies. For one thing, polymers with metallic pieces stuck in them (they are called metallocenes) have a magnetic nature that is stronger than is commonly found in nature. Normally, iron is used in these metallocenes.
Now though scientists have used nickel and this is termed nickelocene. It has a bright greenish tinge to it. Also it can be magnetized or reversed from being magnetic based on the temperature to which it is exposed. By heating it, it undergoes depolymerisation. Such a setup may have many future applications. Data storage devices immediately come to mind.
Read more about this amazing new highly magnetic polymer.
The researchers’ efforts have borne fruit. A super sponge has been made in the lab which can absorb upto 90 times its weight in oil. This could easily be used in the future to mop up oil spills. Oil spills are a pain in the neck. The separation of oil and water is the really difficult part. While in the past sorbent booms were used, these were disposable for all purposes and also not as absorbent as this novel sponge-like material.
The novel material contains polyurethane coated with silane. Getting the balance of polyurethane and silane right is the crux of the matter since it is very finetuned in nature.
Read more about this amazing new sponge.
Via 3D printing, scientists have managed to generate a lightweight biomaterial that looks like a mixture of bone and wood. This also resembles “desert roses”, those colorful chemical arrangements in Africa’s deserts. Actually, silver droplets of fog-like consistency were sprayed onto scaffoldings. As the water evaporated from these, they settled into structures that were porous and looked like kids’ toys.
Microstructures like this one developed at Washington State University could be used in batteries, lightweight ultrastrong materials, catalytic converters, supercapacitors and biological scaffolds. Credit: Washington State University
The shapes and forms they took on were very interesting indeed. This biomaterial has a number of uses in the technologies of the future. They will reach their peak thanks to this efficacious biomaterial. In fact, a plethora of biomaterials can be generated via this 3D printing technique.
Read more about this 3D Printed Bio-like Material.
Braeon is a lightweight, flexible and very durable material that has been made recently by the scientists. It consists of a ribbon that is heated and thus wrapped around an object. Once in this position, it sets. It can be reheated to reshape it though. This material has ten thousand uses from towing to repairing machinery.
Also customers are encouraged to find new uses for this material and tell the makers about it. Braeon has indeed been a labor of love since its making involved a sifting through the entire scientific base. Braeon could pull upto 2000 pounds of weight which shows that it is the strongest material on the face of the planet.
Read more details about this new material here.
Scientists from Russia and Europe have constructed quasi-particles called excitons which can exist within the context of metal organic frameworks or MOFs. These are kept at cryogenic levels and the excitons lie somewhere between photons and electrons. The space between the layers of MOFs are filled with liquid and in this excitons exist in two forms: intralayer and interlayer.
While one of these could have applications in LEDs and lasers, the other could be used in storing vital information. Both types come in handy in optical storage of data. The crystalline space between the MOFs has its “on” and “off” states and it can store information in a binary form of zeroes and ones.
Read more details about this new material here.
Scientists managed to regrow bone in a hole in a mouse skull recently. This was made possible via a thorough knowledge of biology and surgery. The scaffolding of bone cells that were collected trapped BMP9 which is a potent bone-growing protein. Also PPCN-g was employed in the setup.
This experiment involved biomaterials and will lead to less painful bone transplants in the future times. The bone material was built from blood vessels and skull cells in the form of a solution which coagulated and fit right into the scaffolding. Also this methodology is much more surgeon-friendly than previous ones.
Scientists are making future fuels that may consist of even something as simple as water. This might seem unbelievable but it is in fact true. Water may even replace coal, oil and natural gas as the chosen fuel of the times to come.
Water, when it undergoes electrolysis and is melded back into its original components, goes on to form hydrogen and certain hydrocarbons which could be used as fuels. By the disappearance of the boundaries of several disciplines such as biochemistry and advanced metallurgy, new sciences are emerging. These include among their midst such free experimentation that may yield new fuels.
Read more about water fuel here.
Sound-Shaping Super-Material Invented
There is a sound-shaping material as well. It twists, molds and concentrates sound waves passing through it. This is a novel creation among metamaterials. These metamaterials perform amazing feats that are simply mind-blowing in their scope.
A super-material that bends, shapes and focuses sound waves that pass through it has been invented by scientists. Above image shows quantal metamaterial bricks which form together to create a new super-material that can manipulate sound. Credit: Interact Lab, University of Sussex
From Harry Potter-like stealth wizardry to time crystals, these metamaterials are the wave of the future. Sound is used in ultrasound and other medical procedures which are standard practice in the healing arts.
The sound could be manipulated by these metamaterials as mankind wishes to do so. It is almost like magic. Metamaterial bricks can be printed in 3D printers. Such tools provide a sort of acoustic do-it-yourself assembly kit.
Read more about the Time Crystals that are created as New Form of Matter.
Read more about Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak.
Another thin material also works like an air conditioner. This counts for a number of structures. The really amazing thing is that it does it all without any costs or input of energy. These properties are inherent in the metamaterial.
This layer has to simply be applied to a surface for it to do its job with efficacy and precision. It could come in handy for the cooling of thermoelectric power plants. Rolls of this material could be commercially produced for use by both citizens and in industrial settings.
Read more details about this Low Cost AC Material here.
Rubber Tires Made From Food Waste
Coming to the real thing…waste food matter can be turned into tires. Thus tires in the future could come from farmhouses instead of from industrial centers. Tires are normally constructed from petrol fillers. Yet now food waste will form the contents of the tires of the future.
These tires will have greater excellence of quality than the tires made from petroleum. Among some of the raw materials for these tires are rubber-producing dandelions. Even eggshells and tomato peels can be converted into rubber for tires.
Researchers at The Ohio State University have developed a patent-pending technology for incorporating food waste into rubber. Credit: Kenneth Chamberlain, courtesy of The Ohio State University
A major part of a car tire is carbon black. As the number of automobiles increase on the roads around the world, these fillers will be needed on an urgent basis. Part of the problem is sustainability. So all the help available has to be utilized.
Americans eat 100 billion eggs per year. The eggshells from these eggs can come in handy in the making of these natural tires. Then come tomatoes, 13 million tons of which are consumed by Americans per annum. Instead of throwing away the peels of tomatoes, people could conserve them for recycling into the tires of tomorrow.