Its Just Science!

Origami inspires shape-shifting microelectronics

Dutch researchers have demonstrated self-folding, biocompatible 3D structures Thanks to the ancient Japanese art of origami, we all know that it’s possible to transform a single sheet of paper into a complex, three-dimensional structure, simply by folding it. So, its perhaps surprising that origami took so long to attract the attention of engineers. In recent...


Stretchable, multifunctional electronic skin for tactile sensing

Photo courtesy of The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) Flexible sensor array mimics some of the tactile properties of human skin Picking up an object is not a simple process. It relies on a range of data inputs – visual clues help you to gauge the object’s size and shape, allowing you to adjust your grip. Your fingers can...


Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

Tuneable efficiency of direct growth graphene solar cells

Direct growth technique could produce low-cost, high-efficiency graphene-on-silicon Schottky junction solar cells 2018 was a record year for renewable energy, and predictions point to another big year in 2019. But with a rising demand for solar energy comes wider questions on the sustainability of our current photovoltaic devices. The search for alternative...


Solution processing of perovskite thin films

Chinese researchers offer a simple route to bandgap engineering Lead-halide perovskite solar cells are one of the hottest topics in materials science. And for good reason – in less than a decade, their conversion efficiency has grown from 3.8 % to over 20 %, bringing them into the range of more traditional solar photovoltaic materials. But their reliance on...


Using sunlight to suck salt from seawater

Polymer foam offers potential route to practical solar desalination Freshwater scarcity is an urgent global issue. In some parts of the world, cities are growing increasingly reliant on seawater desalination plants. Ultimately, the goal of desalination is to take huge quantities of salt-laden seawater, and turn it into safe, drinking-quality water. Right now,...


3D printed nanogenerator powered by snow

Canadian researchers say that their device could find multiple uses in snowy environments Snow electrification – the natural phenomenon by which snow particles carry an electric charge – has been known by meteorologists since the early 1960s. The exact nature of the charge depends on temperature; snow layers tend to be positively charged between −5 °C...


Diffusion in metallic glass multilayer films

TEM used to explore atomic diffusion in glassy, metallic composites Metallic glasses have long been of interest to materials scientists and product designers alike. Sometimes referred to as ‘vitrified metals’, the properties of these alloys sit somewhere between those of crystalline metal and amorphous glass. Their disordered atomic structure give them...


Nanocomposite cathode for Li-ion batteries

One-pot method could overcome the limits of spinel-based electrodes Lithium ion-batteries (Li-ion) have become the battery of choice across a range of industries, and in consumer electronics like mobile phones, they have almost entirely replaced nickel-cadmium and nickel metal hydride batteries. And it’s not all that surprising – as well as being...


Living glues, inspired by marine animals

Chinese researchers develop the world’s first ‘living biofilm’ adhesive with tuneable behaviour Image taken by Thomas Quine, and shared on Flickr The remarkable properties of natural marine adhesives, such as those used by mussels, have long been studied by researchers. Over millennia, these organisms have harnessed diverse proteins, so that they can grip...


Could tomorrow’s silk be self-cleaning and sun-proof?

Textile researchers have found a simple process for coating silk with ZnO Silk fibre being spun. Image taken from a YouTube video of Sara Lamb There’s nothing quite like the feeling of cool, smooth silk on your skin. It’s perhaps one reason why the luxury fabric has retained its popularity many thousands of years after it was first developed. It does have...