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  • News in Brief

    Give double-layer graphene a twist and it superconducts

    LOS ANGELES — Give a graphene layer cake a twist and it superconducts — electrons flow freely through it without resistance. Made up of two layers of graphene, a form of carbon arranged in single-atom-thick sheets, the structure’s weird behavior suggests it may provide a fruitful playground for testing how certain unusual types of superconductors work, physicist Pablo Jarillo-Herrero of MIT...

    03/08/2018 - 16:10 Condensed Matter, Materials
  • News

    Extreme cold is no match for a new battery

    A new type of battery can stand being left out in the cold. 

    This rechargeable battery churns out charge even at –70° Celsius, a temperature where the typical lithium-ion batteries that power many of today’s cell phones, electric cars and other devices don’t work. Batteries that withstand such frigid conditions could help build electronics that function in some of the coldest places on...

    03/02/2018 - 07:00 Chemistry, Materials, Technology
  • Science Ticker

    Watch an experimental space shield shred a speeding bullet

    View the video

    Engineers are taking a counterintuitive approach to protecting future spacecraft: shooting at their experiments. The image above and high-speed video below capture a 2.8-millimeter aluminum bullet plowing through a test material for a space shield at 7 kilometers per second. The work is an effort to find structures that could stand up to the impact of space debris.

    ...

    02/27/2018 - 15:45 Astronomy, Materials
  • News

    New technique shows how 2-D thin films take the heat

    High-energy particle beams can reveal how 2-D thin sheets behave when the heat is cranked up.

    Researchers have devised a way to track how these materials, such as the supermaterial graphene, expand or contract as temperatures rise (SN: 10/3/15, p. 7). This technique, described in the Feb. 2 Physical Review Letters, showed that 2-D semiconductors arranged in single-atom-thick sheets...

    02/13/2018 - 11:26 Materials, Physics, Technology
  • Teaser

    Smart windows could block brightness and harness light

    Who needs curtains? One day, you could block out afternoon glare and heat with changeable windows that absorb sunshine to charge your electronics.

    A high-tech prototype panel described online January 22 in Nature Materials, switches between transparent pane and dark-tinted solar cell. The layer in the panel that’s responsible for soaking up sun has atoms that only arrange themselves into...

    02/08/2018 - 09:00 Materials, Technology
  • Feature

    Skyrmions open a door to next-level data storage

    Like sailors and spelunkers, physicists know the power of a sturdy knot.

    Some physicists have tied their hopes for a new generation of data storage to minuscule knotlike structures called skyrmions, which can form in magnetic materials. Incredibly tiny and tough to undo, magnetic skyrmions could help feed humankind’s hunger for ever-smaller electronics.

    On traditional hard drives,...

    02/07/2018 - 15:03 Materials, Physics
  • News in Brief

    Superdense wood is lightweight, but strong as steel

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    Newly fabricated superstrong lumber gives a whole new meaning to “hardwood.”

    This ultracompact wood, described in the Feb. 8 Nature, is created by boiling a wood block in a water-based solution of sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfite. The chemicals partially strip the wood of substances called lignin and hemicellulose, which help give wood its structure and rigidity....

    02/07/2018 - 13:00 Materials, Technology
  • Teaser

    New textile weathers temperature shift

    Weather changes, but thanks to a new high-tech textile, someday you may not have to switch out your outfit.

    Materials scientists and engineers at Stanford University have developed a multilayered textile that traps body heat on one side and passively radiates heat away from the body when flipped inside out. The material kept artificial skin within a comfortable range of 32° to 36°...

    02/02/2018 - 11:27 Materials, Technology, Chemistry
  • News

    New laser emits a more stable, energy-efficient light beam

    A new type of laser is modeled after an exotic class of materials called topological insulators. And it’s proving more reliable and energy-efficient than its conventional counterparts, paving the way for possible use in quantum communication and next-generation electronics.

    The device, described online February 1 in Science, is composed of a grid of semiconductor rings that convert...

    02/01/2018 - 14:35 Technology, Physics, Materials
  • News

    New device can transmit underwater sound to air

    Don’t expect to play a game of Marco Polo by shouting from beneath the pool’s surface. No one will hear you because, normally, only about 0.1 percent of sound is transmitted from water to the air. But a new type of device might one day help.

    Researchers have designed a new metamaterial — a type of material that behaves in ways conventional materials can’t — that increases sound...

    01/23/2018 - 13:00 Materials, Physics