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  • News in Brief

    This reflective paint could keep sunbaked buildings cool

    A new polymer-based paint that reflects nearly all incoming sunlight could help keep buildings, cars, airplanes and other sunbaked structures cool.

    This polymer paint, described online September 27 in Science, can be applied to various surfaces, including plastics, metals and wood. It also could be fashioned into recyclable tarpaulins for covering homes, cars or other enclosed spaces....

    09/28/2018 - 09:00 Materials, Technology, Sustainability
  • News

    High-tech ‘skins’ turn everyday objects into robots

    A new type of soft robot gets its power from the skin it’s in.

    Robotic skin that bends, stretches and contracts can wrap around inanimate objects like stuffed animals, foam tubes or balloons to create flexible, lightweight robots. Removable, reusable sheets of this artificial skin, described online September 19 in Science Robotics, could also be used to build grippers or wearable devices...

    09/19/2018 - 14:00 Materials, Robotics, Technology
  • News

    Here’s how graphene could make future electronics superfast

    Graphene just added another badge to its supermaterial sash.

    New experiments show that this single layer of carbon atoms can transform electronic signals at gigahertz frequencies into higher-frequency terahertz signals — which can shuttle up to 1,000 times as much information per second.

    Electromagnetic waves in the terahertz range are notoriously difficult to create, and...

    09/11/2018 - 12:00 Materials, Technology
  • News

    A new hydrogen-rich compound may be a record-breaking superconductor

    Superconductors are heating up, and a world record-holder may have just been dethroned.

    Two studies report evidence of superconductivity — the transmission of electricity without resistance — at temperatures higher than seen before. The effect appears in compounds of lanthanum and hydrogen squeezed to extremely high pressures.

    All known superconductors must be chilled to function,...

    09/10/2018 - 07:00 Condensed Matter, Materials, Physics
  • News in Brief

    A new material harnesses light to deice surfaces

    A new material that converts light into heat could be laminated onto airplanes, wind turbines, rooftops and offshore oil platforms to help combat ice buildup.

    This deicer, called a photothermal trap, has three layers: a top coating of a ceramic-metal mix that turns incoming light into thermal energy, a middle layer of aluminum that spreads this heat across the entire sheet — warming up...

    08/31/2018 - 14:00 Materials, Sustainability
  • Mystery Solved

    Here’s how to bend spaghetti to your will

    Here’s good news for anyone who’s had to sweep up pasta shards after snapping dry spaghetti and thought, “there’s got to be a better way.”

    There is.

    Simply bending a stick of spaghetti in half typically shatters it into three or more fragments. That’s because when the stick breaks, vibrations wrack the remaining halves, causing smaller pieces to splinter off (SN: 11/12/05, p. 315...

    08/27/2018 - 16:00 Physics, Materials
  • Science Visualized

    See the ‘periodic table’ of molecular knots

    Like a scouting handbook for the molecular realm, a new chart reveals how to tie molecules up in knots of increasing complexity.

    Mathematicians have cataloged billions of distinct knot types, but researchers have been able to make only a few molecular versions. Scientists craft the minuscule knots using a solution filled with building blocks of curved strings of atoms, which glom onto...

    08/27/2018 - 07:00 Chemistry, Physics, Materials
  • News in Brief

    A filter that turns saltwater into freshwater just got an upgrade

    Smoothing out the rough patches of a material widely used to filter saltwater could make producing freshwater more affordable, researchers report in the Aug. 17 Science.

    Desalination plants around the world typically strain salt out of seawater by pumping it through films made of polyamide — a synthetic polymer riddled with tiny pores that allow water molecules to squeeze through, but...

    08/16/2018 - 14:00 Materials, Chemistry, Sustainability
  • News

    Strange metals are even weirder than scientists thought

    Curiouser and curiouser: Strange metals are getting a little stranger.

    Normal metals such as copper and aluminum are old hat — physicists have a strong grasp on the behavior of the electrons within. But strange metals behave in mysterious ways, and researchers have now uncovered an additional oddity. A type of strange metal called a cuprate behaves unexpectedly when inside a strong...

    08/06/2018 - 06:00 Condensed Matter, Materials, Physics
  • News

    A new kind of spray is loaded with microscopic electronic sensors

    Talk about cloud-connected devices.

    Using tiny 2-D materials, researchers have built microscopic chemical sensors that can be sprayed in an aerosol mist. Spritzes of such minuscule electronic chips, described online July 23 in Nature Nanotechnology, could one day help monitor environmental pollution or diagnose diseases.

    Each sensor comprises a polymer chip about 1 micrometer thick...

    07/23/2018 - 11:00 Technology, Chemistry, Materials