• Studying the effects of fire on steel structures, nuclear plants

    Building fires may reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees Celsius, or more than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, and the strength of steel structures drops by about 40 percent when exposed to temperatures exceeding 500 degrees Celsius; scientists study precisely what happens to the connections between a floor’s steel beams and the building columns when these connections are exposed to intense heat

  • DHS warns copper thefts on the rise

    DHS officials warn that copper thefts from critical infrastructure and key resource sectors in the United States are on the rise; in March, a Port of Houston security guard was arrested for giving his friends and families access to the port, where they allegedly stole more than 22,000 pounds of copper

  • New material dramatically increases explosive force of weapons

    A revolutionary material that will replace steel in warhead casings will bring added lethality and increase the likelihood of a hit on an enemy target; by combining several metals with standard manufacturing techniques, High-Density Reactive Material (HDRM) has the potential dramatically to increase the explosive impact of most weapons with little or no compromise in strength or design

  • Self-assembled "micro-robots" designed

    Tiny micro-robots — just half a millimeter wide — assemble themselves into star shapes when an alternating magnetic field is applied; the robots can pick up, transport, and put down other non-magnetic particles — potentially enabling fabrication of precisely designed functional materials in ways not currently possible

  • New invisibility cloak conceals objects from human view

    For the first time, scientists have devised an invisibility cloak material that hides objects from detection using light that is visible to humans; the new “carpet cloak” works by concealing an object under layers of silicon oxide and silicon nitride etched in a special pattern, and bending light waves away from the bump that the object makes, so that the cloak appears flat and smooth like a normal mirror

  • Transforming acids into bases

    Chemists at the University of California, Riverside have accomplished in the lab what until now was considered impossible: transform a family of compounds which are acids into bases; the research offers vast family of new catalysts for use in drug discovery, biotechnology

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  • Antibacterial stainless steel created

    Materials scientists have devised a way of making stainless steel surfaces resistant to bacteria; by introducing silver or copper into the steel surface — rather than coating it on to the surface — the researchers have developed a technique that not only kills bacteria but is very hard and resistant to wear and tear during cleaning

  • "Amplified" nanotubes for efficient, loss-free grid

    The current U.S. copper-based grid leaks electricity at an estimated 5 percent per 100 miles of transmission; Rice University researchers have achieved a breakthrough in the development of a cable that will make an efficient electric grid of the future possible; the armchair quantum wire (AQW) will be a weave of metallic nanotubes that can carry electricity with negligible loss over long distances

  • World's first cardboard vacuum cleaner unveiled

    A U.K. vacuum cleaner manufacturer will market a high performance vacuum cleaner constructed out of recycled and recyclable materials; the device was designed by an industrial design student; the corrugated cardboard panels that form the body of the machine are easily replaced if damaged and cost just a tenth of the price of an equivalent plastic panel

  • Fire retardant shows promise -- if given space

    Scientists have demonstrated that the more widely and uniformly dispersed nanoscale plates of clay are in a polymer, the more fire protection the nanocomposite material provides; when polymer — a type of polystyrene, used in packaging, insulation, plastic cutlery, and many other products — is imbued with nanometer scale plates of montmorillonite, the combination can create a material with unique properties or properties superior to those achievable by each component — clay or polymer — on its own

  • Japanese discovery could undermine China's rare earth dominance

    A new discovery by Japanese researchers could break China’s stranglehold over rare Earth metals; Japanese geologists say they have found large deposits of rare Earth minerals on the floor of the Pacific Ocean; it is estimated that the mud of the Pacific Ocean contains 100 billion tons of these minerals

  • New technology makes textiles permanently germ-free

    University of Georgia scientist develops a new technology that makes textiles permanently germ-free, targeting healthcare-associated infections; the new material effectively kills a wide spectrum of bacteria, yeasts, and molds that can cause disease, break down fabrics, create stains, and produce odors

  • Quake-resistant superelastic alloy developed

    Japanese scientists added a small amount of nickel to an iron-based alloy, and found that the new material can recover its original shape at any temperature from -196 to 240 degrees Celsius; the material may be used in environments that are constantly exposed to extreme temperatures, such as joints and controls in cars, planes, and spacecraft; it may also help buildings cushion stress and violent movement in earthquakes

  • "Sensing skin" to monitor concrete infrastructure health inexpensively

    In 2009, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) assigned the grade D to the overall quality of infrastructure in the United States and said that ongoing evaluation and maintenance of structures was one of five key areas necessary for improving that grade; civil engineers recently proposed a new method for the electronic, continual monitoring of structures

  • Bomb-proof bag for planes' luggage compartment developed

    The blast-absorbing bag, named the Fly-Bag, features multiple layers of novel fabrics, composites, and coatings and is designed to be filled with passenger luggage and then placed in the hold of a plane; if one of the pieces of luggage inside the Fly-Bag had a bomb in it and the bomb exploded during the flight, the resulting blast would be absorbed by the bag owing to its complex fabric structure, preventing damage to the plane; fundamental to the design of the bag is the internal elastomeric coating and impregnation of fabric with Shear Thickening Fluids (STF); STFs work by increasing in viscosity in response to impact