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  • 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
  • News

    Designer diamonds could one day help build a quantum internet

    A new kind of artificial diamond is a cut above the rest for quantum memory.

    Unlike other synthetic diamonds, which could either store quantum information for a long time or transmit it clearly, the new diamond can do both. This designer crystal, described in the July 6 Science, could be a key building block in a quantum internet. Such a futuristic communications network would allow...

    07/06/2018 - 11:43 Materials, Quantum Physics, Technology
  • News in Brief

    A new 3-D printer builds temporary electronics on your skin

    A new 3-D printer draws precise patterns of electrically conductive material directly on a person’s skin, creating temporary, tattoolike electronic devices.

    Unlike other 3-D printers designed to layer material on stiff, motionless objects, the new system uses computer vision to compensate for a moving printing surface — say, the back of a fidgety hand, researchers report in the June 6...

    06/06/2018 - 14:30 Technology, Materials
  • Feature

    Future smart clothes could pack serious gadgetry

    In the future, leaving your phone charger at home will mean only one thing: You forgot to put on pants.

    Just as smartphones untethered users from their desktop computers, smart clothing is poised to bring personal electronics out of our pockets and onto our sleeves.

    The current generation of wearable technology that includes smart glasses and watches is still more marginal than...

    06/01/2018 - 10:57 Technology, Materials
  • News

    This plastic can be recycled over and over and over again

    There’s a great future in plastics.

    A new kind of plastic can, when exposed to the right chemicals, break down into the same basic building blocks that it came from and be rebuilt again and again. The recyclable material is more durable than previous attempts to create reusable plastics, researchers report inthe April 27 Science.

    Designing plastics that can be easily reused is one...

    04/26/2018 - 15:40 Pollution, Chemistry, Materials