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News & Publications

Yucca Mountain, deemed safe, still faces long road ahead

Materials Research Society/MRS Bulletin Prachi-220

Almost four years after the Obama administration shut down the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository project, a new report released in October 2014 by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has put Yucca Mountain in the news again. The report is Volume 3 of the five-volume safety evaluation report required for the NRC’s license application review for the geological repository. This volume, which addresses safety after permanent closure, concludes that the repository will meet regulatory requirements after it is permanently closed.

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Bio Focus: Building synthetic organelles from the gene up

Materials Research Society/MRS Bulletin Image-Luke-220

Membrane-bound compartments, such as lipid micelles, are essential cellular structures that have endured and diversified across millennia following their probable key role in the origin of life. Recently, micelles and related types of micro-compartments (e.g., emulsions) have been gaining attention as platforms that can enable new chemical, biological, and materials technologies. The use of both micro- and nano-compartments has been demonstrated for a wide range of applications, including drug delivery, genetic screening, and nanomaterial synthesis.

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Energy Focus: Insulator triggered charge balance for high-performance QLEDs

Materials Research Society/MRS Bulletin Stender-220

Vacuum deposition is the primary technique currently employed by industry for producing commercial light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as their performance is superior to that of solution-processed LEDs. However, a team of nine scientists from China led by Yizheng Jin and Xiaogang Peng at Zhejiang University have recently taken an important step forward in the development of solution-processed LEDs. The research team achieved this by using nonblinking quantum dots (QDs) with a photoluminescence quantum yield above 90%.

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Circularly Polarized Light Causes Chiral Self-Assembly of Inorganic Nanoparticles

Materials Research Societytwisted nanoribons-220

On the molecular level, life tends to favor one chiral orientation over the other, utilizing just left-oriented amino acids and right-oriented sugars, for example. This tendency, called homochirality, might eventually shed light on life’s origins on Earth, although scientists are still trying to verify the exact nature of that hypothesis. Most investigations of homochirality, however, are confined to organic molecules and their constructs. But research recently published in Nature Materials demonstrates that inorganic nanoparticles can also offer insights into this phenomenon.

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Norway’s materials scientists are cracking the glass ceiling

Materials Research Society/MRS Bulletinnorway glass ceiling 220

Norway, a nation already known for its progressive strides in gender equality, in 2006 enacted a law designed to help women crack one of the most doggedly male-dominated arenas of all: the corporate boards of companies listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange were told to include at least 40% women, or risk being dissolved. Today, eight years on, what has this controversial quota achieved? And how have materials scientists, and the firms they work for, benefited?

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Silica Solution Synthetically Fossilizes Soft Biological Tissue

Materials Research Society Si for mouse 220

One of the major challenges of working with biological materials is their ease of damage. In order to study the interior of tissues such as organs, the original sample must be sliced or otherwise cut. This invasive procedure not only causes damage, but it often requires an experienced researcher to create the samples. A new study shows a unique approach to this problem. By utilizing a silica slurry, both the inside and outside of a tissue can be synthetically fossilized, preserving the sample’s structure for more sustained examination.

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Physicists Begin Cracking the Code of Kirigami

Materials Research Society Pasted graphic 220

In origami, the rules are simple: the paper can only be folded. Kirigami, a more complex art form, adds another dimension to the practice of paper folding, allowing its creators to also cut and paste the material. More than just an art form, physicists think that kirigami could help simplify diverse tasks, ranging from building homes on Mars to creating DNA lattices.

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Wireless Gas Sensors Tap into the Power of Smartphones

Materials Research Society Chemical sensor 220

When it comes to potentially dangerous gases on a job site, having highly responsive sensors is key to maintaining a safe work environment. Many sensors currently in use are good at sniffing out gases, but they can be expensive to produce and maintain. To make sensors that are easier to create and use, new research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) points toward tapping into the omnipresence of wireless devices. Using RF signals, a new line of simple chemical resistors may make testing for gases as easy as sending a text message.

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Color-switching Redox Ink Makes for Rewritable Paper

Materials Research Society Jenna redox 220

Businesses retain up to 90% of all information on paper, many pages of which are read once then discarded. All that printing requires a lot of ink, and with the cheapest printer ink costing a staggering $13 per ounce (over $1600 per gallon), printing is not cheap. In a new report published in this month’s issue of Nature Communications, researchers at the University of California–Riverside have come up with a lower cost solution: rewritable paper.

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Polymer Blends with H-Bonds Increase Thermal Conductivity

Materials Research SocietyJoe conductivity-220

Researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) have created a polymer blend with 10 times the thermal conductivity of other amorphous polymers, by engineering its thermal properties via molecular design.

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Solid-state batteries enter EV fray

Materials Research Society/Energy QuarterlySolid state battery 220

Lithium-ion batteries with liquid electrolytes power most of the electric vehicles (EVs) that are widely seen as an essential step toward halting the march of global warming. But EVs currently cost significantly more while suffering from a lower driving range than gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicles. Despite significant lithium-ion battery advances in the last two decades, many in the field feel that further progress will crest in the next few years and are seeking a successor technology.

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Materials Research Society Announces New Board Appointment for 2015

Materials Research SocietyParrillo

The Materials Research Society (MRS) announces a new appointment to its Board of Directors, effective January 1, 2015. David J. Parrillo, Global Research and Development Director, Packaging and Specialty Plastics for The Dow Chemical Company, has accepted a one-year appointment to the MRS Board of Directors and will serve on the MRS Finance Committee.

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Thinnest Generator of Electricity

Materials Research Society/MRS Bulletin Balu 220

A single layer of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), 0.6 nm thick, generates a peak electrical output of 15 mV and 20 pA when strained by 0.53%, which corresponds to a mechanical-to-electrical energy conversion of 5.8%. These observations were made by a research team from Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and Columbia University

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Blu-ray Patterns Improve Solar Cell Performance

Materials Research Society blu-ray-220

Everyday objects can sometimes inspire unexpected solutions to seemingly unrelated scientific problems. Blu-ray discs turn out to offer one such surprising potential fix. The patterns Blu-rays use for storing data, a team of interdisciplinary researchers found, are just right for improving light absorption capabilities for solar cells. As Jiaxing Huang, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, put it: “We discovered that the folks working in the Blu-ray industry seem to be doing our job for us.”

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Polymorphs of single organic compound provide insights into structure-spectra relationships

Materials Research Society/MRS Bulletin polymorph-220

A research team at Jilin University in China has reported the growth and stimulated emission characteristics of several luminescent polymorphs of a single organic compound in which molecular conformation and packing vary independently.

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Paper-based Device Produces Rapid 1000-fold Increase in Sample Concentration

Materials Research Society microfluidic 220

A new study out of the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology has adapted paper microdevices that can help detect low biomarker concentrations, create up to 1000-fold concentration increases of a solution within minutes.

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Landscape Inversion Mechanism Stabilizes Unstable Crystal Phases

Materials Research Society landscape inversion 220

First-order phase transitions typically occur when a stable state loses favor to a metastable state under an external influence. Unstable states are passed over completely. Now, researchers at the University of Barcelona have found a way to stabilize states that should be thermodynamically unstable. When studying a polarized colloidal system, they observed a new type of first-order phase transition that could be used to tune the structure of two-dimensional crystals.

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Bio-solar Cell Gets a Power Boost

Materials Research Society biosolar cells 220

A new study published in Lab on a Chip shows how a change in device architecture of bio-solar devices can maximize solar energy capture and bacterial attachment.

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Superhalogens Could Yield Less-Toxic Lithium-Ion Batteries

Materials Research Society Halgoen-free-image 220

A new study published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition points to at least one way the toxicity of lithium-ion batteries might be decreased. Utilizing first principles’ theory, the report suggests that by altering the make-up of the batteries’ electrolytes, toxic halogens can be replaced by far more environmentally friendly chemicals.

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MRS Congratulates Physicist Mildred Dresselhaus on Presidential Medal of Freedom

Materials Research SocietyDresselhaus

The Materials Research Society (MRS) congratulates Mildred Dresselhaus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on today's award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States. Dresselhaus was among 19 winners honored today by President Barack Obama.

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