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News & Publications

IWZnO 2014 Preregistration Now Open

Materials Research Society

Registration is now open for the 8th International Workshop on Zinc Oxide and Related Materials (IWZnO 2014) in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Attendees can register online, by mail/fax or by phone. Preregistration deadline is 5 p.m. (ET), August 26, 2014.

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ISGD-4 Preregistration Now Open

Materials Research Society

Registration is now open

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Carbon Double Layers Improve Efficiency of Solar Steam Generation

Materials Research Societydouble-layer-structure-220

Solar thermal systems tend to be large scale systems in which sunlight is focused on a vessel containing a fluid such as water. But it takes a lot of energy to heat up a lot of water. So now researchers at MIT are developing small scale systems that heat up and evaporate a small amount of water at time using a double-layer structure of carbon-based materials to achieve high efficiencies. A scaled-up version might eventually be used to desalinate water or to produce enough steam to drive turbines. 

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Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting Can Be Achieved with Self-Organized, All-Oxide Electrodes

Materials Research Societymoth-eye-solar-cell-220

A team of Swiss researchers  has created new photonic light trapping structures using iron and tungsten oxide to split water to obtain hydrogen fuel. Florent Boudoire, a graduate student at University of Basel and researcher at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, created the new electrode architecture, which decouples light absorption and charge management. 

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“Anti-crystal” Useful in Describing Disordered and Partially Ordered Materials

Materials Research Societyanticrystal-220

The study of materials has had great success for a century or more in starting with the “perfect crystal” and adding defects as perturbations to describe real, imperfect systems. Now, researchers are having some success, at least at the simulation stage using ideal spherical atoms, by starting at the opposite end of the spectrum with a completely disordered state called an “anti-crystal” and adding order as the perturbation. 

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Resonant Vibrations Trigger Charge Transfer in Photosynthesis

Materials Research Societyspinach-leaf-photosynthesis-220

Photosynthesis is the most important chemical reaction on the planet. It is the process by which plants thrive, and, in turn, gives the rest of the living world oxygen to breathe. For materials scientists, photosynthesis is a blueprint for solar energy. Just how the reaction works on the molecular level in plants, though, is still a mystery. However, a new study published in Nature Chemistry might pinpoint how electron transfer works in plants, perhaps leading to even more efficient solar cells. 

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High Conductivity Supercapacitors Achieved with Graphene Nanocomposites

MRS Bulletinlayered-double-hydroxide-nanosheets-220

As reported in Advanced Materials, Renzhi Ma and colleagues from the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan have succeeded in preparing superlattice nanocomposites for use in supercapacitors with both high capacity and high power rates.

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Taking Heart in Gelatin for Tissue Engineering

MRS Bulletinheart-on-a-chip-220

Kit Parker and colleagues at Harvard University envision one day growing small-scale samples of relevant human tissues for high-throughput drug response assays, bypassing the need for live animals. Specifically, Parker’s team has focused on culturing cardiac muscle cells toward the development of “Heart on a Chip” technologies.

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A Device for Measuring Chemical Warfare Agents on Surfaces

Materials Research SocietyCW-device-220

Studying the surface science of chemical warfare agents such as sarin is no easy task, especially in view of their deadly nature. Because of this, materials scientists often use less toxic simulants of the agents. However, for as similar as these simulants are, lingering questions remain about how precisely the results model the reaction of a true chemical agent. Now, a study published in

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Smart Morphable Surfaces Can Dimple At Will, Reducing Air Drag

Materials Research Societysmorphs-220

The odd dimpled surface of golf balls is no accident - in effect, the cratered surface reduces the turbulent, drag-producing wake behind the flying ball, allowing it to travel farther. Now, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created smart morphable surfaces, or "Smorphs," which can mimic the surface of golf balls.

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New Hybrid Perovskite Deposition Method Efficiently Engineers Uniform Solar Cells

Materials Research Societyperovskite-solar-cell-method-220

Five years ago, a new type of solar cell hit the research scene. The novel solar cell prototypes replaced traditional crystalline silicon with perovskites made out of methylammonium lead tri-iodide. But

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Liquid Helium Program to Test Leveraged Buying Power of Small-scale Users

Materials Research Societyliquid-helium-label

The American Physical Society (APS) and the American Chemical Society (ACS) have announced the formation of the Liquid Helium Program, which aims to ensure that academic researchers with federal grants have the opportunity to purchase small quantities of liquid helium as needed at competitive prices. Currently, big users, such as companies in the semiconductor industry, consume larger quantities and therefore get priority in pricing and delivery at the expense of academic researchers.  

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Manufacturing Energy: Jay Whitacre Zeroes in on What Technologies Address the Market

MRS Bulletin Energy QuarterlyJay-Whitacre-220

In just five years, materials researcher Jay Whitacre—the Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Aquion Energy—raised $7.5M, then $30M, then another $35M that was quickly increased to $55M for his battery company, which is located in the Greater Pittsburgh Area.

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India’s Thorium-based Nuclear Vision

MRS Bulletin Energy QuarterlyIndian-nuclear-power-plant-220

According to the World Nuclear Association, India has the world’s largest reserves (846,000 tonnes or over 932,000 tons) of thorium, a silvery-white metal that many believe is the magic bullet for a new generation of clean, safe nuclear power.

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Mechanical Metamaterials Produce Ultralight, Ultrastiff Polymer, Metal, and Ceramic Lattices

Materials Research Societyoctet-truss-mechanical-metamaterial-220

The word “metamaterial” conjures up visions of matter interacting with electromagnetic waves to bend the waves around objects, producing a “cloaking device” that hides the object from detection. But the “mechanical metamaterials” that Chris Spadaccini’s group at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Nicholas Fang’s team at MIT are working on aim to avoid bending as much as possible—mechanical bending, that is. Instead, by causing forces to distribute only in stretching or compression modes along the struts of an octet truss, they have fabricated ultralight, ultrastiff materials from polymers, metals, and ceramics.

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White Paper: Fulfilling the Promise of the Materials Genome Initiative via High-Throughput Experimentation

Materials Research SocietyMGI-vision-220

The Materials Genome Initiative (MGI), announced by President Obama in 2011, aims to support US institutions to discover, develop, and deploy advanced materials twice as fast, at reduced cost. High-throughput experimental techniques, where hundreds of samples are synthesized, characterized, and catalogued for their functional properties, provide an important tool toward these aims. A 

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Nanotube Forests Can Harvest Water from the Air

Materials Research Societywater-harvesting-nanotubes-220

Biological organisms’ adaptations, behaviors, and survival strategies often inspire scientists in diverse fields ranging from medicine to robotics to physics. Materials science, it turns out, is no exception, as a team from Rice University recently showed. Those researchers turned to an unlikely candidate for experimental guidance: the Stenocara beetle from the Namib Desert.

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New Material Could Improve Carbon Capture of Natural Gas

Materials Research SocietyCO2-capture-from-natural-gas-220

 Researchers with Rice University in Texas and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have developed a new recyclable carbon-based material that can trap about eight times more CO2 by weight than aqueous amines. What's more, the material polymerizes CO2 using the pressure and temperatures present at the wellhead, and doesn't require large filtration towers, allowing the CO2 to be easily piped back into the ground after the pressure is released.

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Fulfilling the Promise of the Materials Genome Initiative via High-Throughput Experimentation

Materials Research Society

A "Workshop on Combinatorial Approaches to Functional Materials" was held on May 5-6, 2014, in San Francisco to explore the role of combinatorial methods in the efforts of the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI). The 90-plus experts attending the workshop expressed the need for "experimental and data standards, and increased access to high-throughput device characterization tools, as the most significant opportunities to realize the full potential of high-throughput experimentation (HTE) for materials commercialization." A

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Deep Data Analysis Unravels Complex Conductive Behaviors

Materials Research Societydeep-data-analysis-of-oxides-220

Using novel statistical analysis techniques on multidimensional data sets, researchers have been able to distinguish individual electrical conductivity behaviors in a tubular dual-oxide nanocomposite, including memristive behavior at interfaces that could lead to valuable switching applications at the nanoscale. Although in this case the data was taken from scanning probe microscopy (SPM) experiments, the statistical techniques could be applied to extract physical meaning from large multidimensional data sets collected using virtually any type of analytical instrument. 

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