A new device the size of a coffee mug can generate drinkable water from desert air using nothing but sunlight.
“With this device, you can harvest the equivalent of a Coke can’s worth of water in an hour,” says cocreator Omar Yaghi, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley. “That’s about how much water a person needs to survive in the desert.”
Though that may not sound...
The heavy-duty material used to build bridges and sculpt skyscrapers could learn a few tricks from humble bones.
Steel’s weakness is its tendency to develop microscopic cracks that eventually make the material fracture. Repeated cycles of stress — daily rush hour traffic passing over a bridge, for example — nurture these cracks, which often aren’t apparent until the steel collapses....
Platinum, one of the rarest and most expensive metals on Earth, may soon find itself out of a job. Known for its allure in engagement rings, platinum is also treasured for its ability to jump-start chemical reactions. It’s an excellent catalyst, able to turn standoffish molecules into fast friends. But Earth’s supply of the metal is limited, so scientists are trying to coax materials that aren...
50 Years Ago
First germanium integrated circuits
Integrated circuits made of germanium instead of silicon have been reported … by researchers at International Business Machines Corp. Even though the experimental devices are about three times as large as the smallest silicon circuits, they reportedly offer faster overall switching speed. Germanium … has inherently greater mobility than silicon, which...
A team of scientists may have given hydrogen a squeeze strong enough to turn it into a metal. But critics vigorously dispute the claim.
Researchers from Harvard University report that under extremely high pressures hydrogen became reflective — one of the key properties of a metal. The feat required compressing hydrogen to 4.9 million times atmospheric pressure, the scientists report...
News in Brief
Hoverboards and certain cell phones powered by lithium-ion batteries occasionally go up in flames. Scientists now have a new plan for squelching these fires before they flare out of control: incorporating a flame retardant in the battery that’s released if temperatures get too toasty.
Within lithium-ion batteries, ions travel between positive and negative electrodes through a liquid...
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One hundred and ninety-two atoms have tied the knot.
Chains of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen atoms, woven together in a triple braid, form the most complex molecular knot ever described, chemists from the University of Manchester in England report in the Jan. 13 Science.
Learning how to tie such knots could one day help researchers weave molecular...
Graphene-infused Silly Putty forms an electrical sensor that is sensitive enough to detect the gentle caresses of spider feet walking across it.
Mixing graphene, or atom-thick sheets of carbon, and polysilicone, the substance found in the children’s toy Silly Putty, made it conduct electricity. Its electrical resistance was highly sensitive to pressure: Squishing the putty caused the...
An oddball superconductor is the first of its kind — and if scientists are lucky, its discovery may lead to others.
At a frigid temperature 5 ten-thousandths of a degree above absolute zero, bismuth becomes a superconductor — a material that conducts electricity without resistance — physicists from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India, report online December 1 in...
Hyperelastic bone\ˈhī-per ə̇ˈlastik bōn\ n.10/11/2016 - 07:00 Materials, Health, Biomedicine
A highly flexible 3-D printed scaffold used to repair broken or damaged bones.
“Hyperelastic bones” don’t impart Stretch Armstrong abilities, but they could give surgeons a quick, inexpensive way to repair bone breaks. Created by Ramille Shah, a materials science engineer at Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues, the new...