Entries with tag materials science.

Baked Robots: Hot, Fresh Approach to Self-Assembly

A new approach for self-assembling robots uses heat to help the objects form properly. MIT professor Daniela Rus used materials that change shape when heat is applied. Manufacturers could use heat to make a plastic sheet with carefully located creases and slits fold into a 3D robot’s body. Rus is scheduled to demonstrate her approach during the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation this week in Hong Kong. (SlashDot)(Tech Crunch)(MIT News Office)

Scientists Study Iron Superconductors’ Atomic Properties, Magnetism May Be Key

An international team of researchers has observed the electronic structure of iron-based superconductors at the atomic scale to answer many questions about their properties. They studied a compound of iron, calcium, and arsenic and doped it with cobalt atoms, which transformed it into a superconductor. They also examined the properties of the material when an insufficient amount of cobalt was added, which may unlock some answers to how superconductivity works. They found that dopant atoms are not neutral, but “do other very surprising things.” One of these is a finding that magnetism may play a role in superconductivity. The researchers say they plan to experiment with a broad range of iron-based superconducting materials to verify the phenomenon and will also see whether changing the locations at which the dopant atoms are placed on the material changes the electronic structure. J. C. Séamus Davis, James Gilbert White Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences at Cornell University and director of the Center for Emergent Superconductivity at Brookhaven National Laboratory, led the research team. Other participants were from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Academia Sinica in Taipei, Florida State University, the University of Amsterdam, US Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, the University of Colorado, and the University of St. Andrews. They reported their findings in a recent online edition of the journal Nature Physics. (PhysOrg)(Cornell University)(Nature Physics)

Researcher Employs Statistical Learning to Materials Science


A US researcher continues developing statistical learning techniques to research and develop new materials efficiently with the aid of computer tools. Krishna Rajan of both Iowa State University and the US Department of Energy Ames Laboratory is working toward an approach that starts with the most important ingredients that could be used in a material and applies statistical learning tools to reduce the number of possible additional compounds to ultimately identify potential combinations. The method also uses data mining and information theory. Rajan says the method can be applied to other disciplines and has assisted other Iowa State scientists working on research in agronomy, biofuels, climate studies and genomics. Although he and his team have already published several papers, including one that details the process for improving piezoelectric materials, they are scheduled to present their research at the first International Conference and Summer School in Molecular and Materials Informatics, February 2013, in Melbourne, Australia. The conference is sponsored by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. (PhysOrg)(Iowa State University)

Scientists Investigate New Fiber Optics Material

Clemson University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers are exploring readily available materials that could be used in place of silica for optical fiber. Today, the large amount of light packed into fibers causes silica to vibrate so much that it creates sound energy. This reduces the fiber’s information-carrying capacity. The Clemson scientists are studying sapphire, among other materials, as a way to avoid these problems. However, sapphire cannot yet be made into optical fiber using conventional commercial methods.  The researchers published their work in Nature Photonics. (EurekAlert)(Clemson University)(Nature Photonics)

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