Cathodoluminescence Used to Probe Metamaterials

True-colour cathodoluminescence image taken with the Cameca SX100. Fluorite (blue-violet) is shown associated with calcite (yellow-orange) in a carbonatite from India. Credit: Natural History Museum UK

The phenomenon of cathodoluminescence gave geologists an easy way to identify quartz and other minerals in rock samples. Cathodoluminescence allows a piece of quartz to glow icy blue when put under an electron scanning microscope. Now, scientists have used this phenomenon to probe into nanostructures.

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Shape-Remembering Hydrogels Made Out of Synthetic DNA

Hydrogels made in the form of the letters D, N and A collapse into a liquid-like state on their own but return to the original shape when surrounded by water. Credit: Luo Lab

A new metamaterial created by researchers at Cornell University, is soft enough that it can flow like a liquid, but can then it can return to its original shape.

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Liquid Metal Used in Ultra-Stretchable Conducting Wires

(A) Original length. (B) Stretched out wire. Credit: Zhu, S., So, J.-H., Mays, R., Desai, S., Barnes, W. R., Pourdeyhimi, B. and Dickey, M. D. (2012),  Adv. Funct. Mater. doi: 10.1002/adfm.201202405

Researchers at the North Carolina State University have created conductive wires that are made out of liquid metal, with the ability to stretch eight times their original length, without compromising their basic functionality. These wires could be used in headphones as well as phone chargers.

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Samarium Hexoboride Behaves Like a Topological Insulator

samarium-hexoboride

Samarium hexoboride, a compound that had been poorly understood and that can gain conducting properties at very low temperatures, may be a topological insulator in its bulk form, conducting electricity on its surface while the rest of the material behaves like an insulator.

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Scattered Silver Cubes Scale Up Light Absorption for Solar Power

silver-nanocube-sprinkles

Nanoscale cubes of silver could help make more efficient solar panels, heat detectors and specialist cameras. The randomly scattered cubes were placed on pieces of polymer-coated metals to form a device that absorbs nearly all light that hits it.

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New 3D Form of Graphene May Lead to Flexible Electronics

graphene-monash-elastic

Graphene can support 50,000 times its own weight and can spring back into shape after being compressed by up to 80%. Graphene also has a much lower density than comparable metal-based materials. A new super-elastic, three-dimensional form of graphene can conduct electricity, and will probably pave the way for flexible electronics.

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Nanoparticle Blast Could Help Make Microscopic Matter

nanoparticle-combustion

Scientists were able for the first time to capture on film a process that makes homogeneous metal oxide nanoparticles. This could pave the way for faster and cheaper ways to develop nanoparticles.

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Self-Assembling Polymer Increases Hard Drive Capacity Fivefold

block-copolymer-dots

Synthetic chemists have designed self-assembling polymers, which require heat in order to rearrange themselves. This technology has the potential of increasing hard drive storage capacity fivefold.

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Duke University Creates “Perfect” Microwave Cloak

duke-unversity-microwave-cloak

Scientists have been able to successfully cloak an object, rendering a centimeter-scale cylinder invisible to microwaves. Many different invisibility cloaks have been demonstrated, but all of those reflect some of the incidental light, making the illusion incomplete. This is the first to cloak an object perfectly.

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Robotic Tentacles Have a Soft Enough Touch to Pick Up Flowers

tentacle-holding-flower

Typically, robotic hands have had trouble being dexterous enough and delicate enough to perform certain tasks, but robotics experts from Harvard University have been developing a series of soft robots, capable of accomplishing much more than previously.

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