Category Chemistry/ Nanotechnology

A new way to Store Thermal Energy

“What we are doing technically,” Han explains, “is installing a new energy barrier, so the stored heat cannot be released immediately.” In its chemically stored form, the energy can remain for long periods until the optical trigger is activated

“What we are doing technically,” Han explains, “is installing a new energy barrier, so the stored heat cannot be released immediately.” In its chemically stored form, the energy can remain for long periods until the optical trigger is activated

A new phase-change material stores heat in a stable chemical form, then releases it later on demand using light as a trigger. In large parts of the developing world, people have abundant heat from the sun during the day, but most cooking takes place later in the evening when the sun is down, using fuel – such as wood, brush or dung – that is collected with significant time and effort.

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Math gets real in Strong, Lightweight Structures

A 3-D printer sketches out a schwarzite in a Rice University laboratory. The curved surface of a schwarzite repeats throughout the structure, which shows excellent strength and deformation characteristics. Credit: Brandon Martin/Rice University

A 3-D printer sketches out a schwarzite in a Rice University laboratory. The curved surface of a schwarzite repeats throughout the structure, which shows excellent strength and deformation characteristics. Credit: Brandon Martin/Rice University

3D Printers to turn century-old theory into complex Schwarzites. Rice University engineers are using 3D printers to turn structures that have until now existed primarily in theory into strong, light and durable materials with complex, repeating patterns. The porous structures called schwarzites are designed with computer algorithms, but Rice researchers found they could send data from the programs to printers and make macroscale, polymer models for testing...

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Building Better Silk

A photograph shows regenerated helical silk fibers colored by Rhodamine dyes, under UV light. Credit: Courtesy of the researchers

A photograph shows regenerated helical silk fibers colored by Rhodamine dyes, under UV light. Credit: Courtesy of the researchers

Reconstituted silk can be several times stronger than the natural fiber and made in different forms. When it comes to concocting the complex mix of molecules that makes up fibers of natural silk, nature beats human engineering hands down. Despite efforts to synthesize the material, artificial varieties still cannot match the natural fiber’s strength. But by starting with silk produced by silkworms, breaking it down chemically, and then reassembling it, engineers have found they can make a material that is more than twice as stiff as its natural counterpart and can be shaped into complex structures such as meshes and lattices...

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Wireless handheld Spectrometer Transmits Data to Smartphone

A new pencil-like wireless spectrometer can be used with a smartphone to collect 3-D spectral images of the body and other objects. This design could make the device useful for point-of-care diagnostics. Credit: Dan Wang, Beijing University of Chemical Technology

A new pencil-like wireless spectrometer can be used with a smartphone to collect 3-D spectral images of the body and other objects. This design could make the device useful for point-of-care diagnostics. Credit: Dan Wang, Beijing University of Chemical Technology

Easy-to-use spectrometer less than $300, holds promise for remote medical diagnostics. A new smartphone-compatible device that is held like a pencil could make it practical to acquire spectral images of everyday objects and may eventually be used for point-of-care medical diagnosis in remote locations. Spectral images, which contain more color information than is obtainable with a typical camera, reveal characteristics of tissue and other biological samples that can’t be seen by the naked eye...

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