Materials researchers love sea creatures. Mother-of-pearl provokes ideas for smooth surfaces, clams inspire gluey substances, shark's skin is used to develop materials that reduce drag in water, and so on. Researchers have now found a model for strong, lightweight materials by diving below the sea surface to investigate a sea urchin cousin known as the heart urchin.
Engineers have developed a method to make synthetic, sticky hydrogel that is more than 90 percent water. The hydrogel, which is a transparent, rubber-like material, can adhere to surfaces such as glass, silicon, ceramics, aluminum, and titanium with a toughness comparable to the bond between tendon and cartilage on bone.
Scientists have developed a technique to make titanium stronger without sacrificing any of the metal's ductility - a combination that no one has achieved before. The researchers believe the technique could also be used for other metals, and the advance has potential applications for creating more energy-efficient vehicles.
Silver nanowires hold promise for applications such as flexible displays and solar cells, but their susceptibility to damage from highly energetic UV radiation and harsh environmental conditions has limited their commercialization. New research suggests wrapping the nanowires with an ultrathin layer of carbon called graphene protects the structures from damage and could represent a key to realizing their commercial potential.
An international collaboration of scientists has developed a technique they dubbed 'gas adsorption crystallography' that provides a new way to study the process by which metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are able to store immense volumes of gases such a carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane. This new look at MOFs led to a discovery that holds promise for the improved design of MOFs tailored specifically for carbon capture, or for the use of hydrogen and natural gas fuels.
Scientists have developed a new technique using nanobodies. Employing the so-called 'Morphotrap', the distribution of the morphogen Dpp, which plays an important role in wing development, could be selectively manipulated and analyzed for the first time in the fruit fly.
Researchers have demonstrated an innovative way of using a gel to extract precious metals such as silver and gold from waste and convert them into conducting nanoparticles to form a hybrid nanomaterial potentially suitable for a range of high-tech applications.
Researchers are using nanoparticles to boost the nutrient content and growth of tomato plants. Taking a clue from their work with solar cells, the team found that by using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles, the tomato plants better absorbed light and minerals, and the fruit had higher antioxidant content.