Material sciences

  • A Water-Based, Rechargeable Battery

    Research on the water electrolyte: Empa researcher Ruben-Simon Kühnel connecting a test cell to the charger with the concentrated saline solution. Empa

    Water could form the basis for future, particularly inexpensive rechargeable batteries. Empa researchers have succeeded in doubling the electrochemical stability of water with a special saline solution. This takes us one step closer to using the technology commercially. In the quest to find safe, low-cost batteries for the future, eventually we have to ask ourselves a question: Why not simply use water as an electrolyte? 

  • Active Implants: How Gold Binds to Silicone Rubber

    Thin film preparation scheme. a) Cross section of the organic molecular beam deposition setup for the fabrication of soft multi-layer nanostructures under ultra-high vacuum conditions. In situ spectroscopic ellipsometry at an incident angle of 20° simultaneously monitors film thickness, optical properties, and plasmonics. Representative schemes of thermally grown soft nanostructures: b) self-assembled Au particles bound to bi-functional, thiol-terminated PDMS; c) wrinkled Cr/PDMS; d) Au nanoparticles on a PDMS membrane. Coherent electron oscillations occur if the nanoparticles become excited at the resonance frequency. Due to the incident 4 × 10 mm2 beam dimension, SE monitors nanostructures over a macroscopic area. (© Wiley-VCH Verlag)

    Flexible electronic parts could significantly improve medical implants. However, electroconductive gold atoms usually hardly bind to silicones. Researchers from the University of Basel have now been able to modify short-chain silicones in a way, that they build strong bonds to gold atoms. The results have been published in the journal «Advanced Electronic Materials».

    Ultra-thin and compliant electrodes are essential for flexible electronic parts. When it comes to medical implants, the challenge lays in the selection of the materials, which have to be biocompatible. Silicones were particularly promising for application in the human body because they resemble the surrounding human tissue in elasticity and resilience. Gold also poses an excellent electrical conductivity but does only weakly bind to silicone, which results in unstable structures.

  • Added Disorder Drives Transition to Photonic Topological Insulator

    A honeycomb waveguide structure with helical waveguides acts as a photonic topological insulator so that light is guided along the surface. Copyright: University of Rostock/Alexander Szameit, Lukas Maczewsky

    As the journal Nature reported recently, a research group led by the Rostock physicist Professor Alexander Szameit, in collaboration with colleagues in Israel and the U.S., experimentally demonstrated that a messy topological insulator can be restored in its properties by inducing random disorder.

  • Additive manufacturing, from macro to nano

    Magnesium part produced with selective laser micro melting.  Photo: LZH

    Creating large structures with high volume or with the highest-possible resolution: The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) is carrying out research on diverse processes for additive manufacturing, in order to push past the present limits. At the Hannover Messe 2017, at the pavilion of the State of Lower Saxony (hall 2, stand A08), the LZH is presenting the state of the art.

    Light for Innovation – since 1986, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has been committed to advancing laser technology. Supported by the Lower Saxony Ministry for Economics, Labour and Transport, the LZH has been devoted to the selfless promotion of applied research in the field of laser technology.

  • Additive Manufacturing: Budget-friendly Retrofit of Module for Wire-based Laser Deposition Welding

    Processing head "LMD-W-20-L" for wire-based laser deposition welding. Graphic: Fraunhofer IPT

    When economic or safety considerations rule out the use of powder materials in additive manufacturing, the option of wire-feed laser deposition welding resents itself. The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT in Aachen has developed a smart laser module for wire deposition welding, which can easily be integrated within existing process chains, handling systems or machine tools. The engineers from Aachen will be unveiling the LMD-W-20-L module for the first time to the visitors from industry at Formnext, the Fair for Additive Technologies in Frankfurt/Main, Hall 3, Booth E70, 13-16 November 2018.

  • Additive Printing Processes for Flexible Touchscreens: Increased Materials and Cost Efficiency

    Additive printing processes for flexible touchscreens: increased materials and cost efficiency. Free within this context; source: INM

    The INM - Leibniz Institute for New Materials has developed new processes with photochemical metallization and printing (gravure printing, inkjet printing) of transparent conductive oxides (TCOs), which are significantly more time- and cost-saving. These will be presented by the scientists at this year's Hannover Messe from 1 to 5 April at Stand C54 in Hall 5.

  • Adhesive Process Developed for Shingle Cell Technology

    Pilot process to apply an electrically conductive adhesive to shingled cells carried out on the industrial stringer in the Module-TEC of Fraunhofer ISE. (C) Fraunhofer ISE

    The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg has developed a special adhesive process to interconnect silicon solar cells for the industrial production of shingle modules. The market demand for shingle modules is rising rapidly due to their high efficiency and pleasing aesthetics. The cell stringer at Fraunhofer ISE is unique in Germany. It offers a wide range of possibilities for the prototype production of this highly efficient module.

  • ADIR Project: Lasers Recover Valuable Materials

    Contactless exposure and unsoldering of circuit board components by means of laser radiation in a recycling process of the “ADIR” project.

    Taking electronic devices apart that are no longer in use to recover valuable raw materials – this is an essential aspect of the future of urban mining. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is taking a pioneering role internationally in the EU project “ADIR - Next generation urban mining – Automated disassembly, separation and recovery of valuable materials from electronic equipment”. Launched in September 2015, this project is scheduled to run until 2019. It comprises nine project partners from four countries, who are researching how strategically important materials from old cell phones and printed circuit boards can be retrieved and recycled.

  • Advanced X-ray Topography Tool Offers More Insights into Semiconductor Material Quality

    X-ray transmission topogram of the 101 reflex for a full 100 mm 4H SiC wafer and a more detailed section of the wafer. Fraunhofer IISB

    Fraunhofer IISB and Rigaku Europe SE are starting a strategic partnership in order to support the European semiconductor industry in improving and better understanding their wafer quality and yield by employing the Rigaku XRTmicron advanced X-ray topography tool. Rigaku Europe SE and Fraunhofer IISB in Erlangen are pleased to announce the formation of a strategic partnership to revolutionize the characterization of semiconductor materials by X-ray topography; therefore, Rigaku has installed the latest generation X-ray topography tool, the Rigaku XRTmicron imaging system, at Fraunhofer IISB.

  • Aerogels - the world's lightest solids: International project meeting of NanoHybrids at TUHH

    Aerogel illustration.

    Project meeting of the NanoHybrids EU project on 15 and 16 May 2017 – an important milestone

    The EU research project NanoHybrids, uniting well-known partners from European research and industry, can report its first successes: New methods have been developed for manufacturing organic and hybrid aerogels and they have already been used to produce initial small quantities of organic aerogels. Industry and research partners have cooperated closely to achieve this. Thus significant milestones have already been achieved just 18 months into the EU project.

  • Alloys From the Laser Printer

    These small sized samples are made out of oxide dispersion strengthened titanium aluminides and have been made as part of the PhD-work. Empa

    In the future, new designer alloys for aerospace applications can be manufactured using the 3-D laser melting process (Additive Manufacturing). Pioneering work in this field was provided by Empa researcher Christoph Kenel, who works today at Northwestern University (Chicago). Empa grants him the Research Award 2017. Titan-Aluminum alloys are combining low density, high strength and oxidation resistance at elevated temperatures and are therefore of high technical relevance e.g. in aerospace engineering.

  • An injectable guidance system for nerve cells

    Dr.-Ing. Laura De Laporte and PhD student Jonas Rose analyze the orientation of nerve cells (red) along the paths provided by gel rods (green). J. Hillmer, DWI

    In many tissues of the human body, such as nerve tissue, the spatial organization of cells plays an important role. Nerve cells and their long protrusions assemble into nerve tracts and transport information throughout the body. When such a tissue is injured, an accurate spatial orientation of the cells facilitates the healing process. Scientists from the DWI – Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials in Aachen developed an injectable gel, which can act as a guidance system for nerve cells. They recently published their results obtained from cell culture experiments in the journal ‚Nano Letters‘.

  • An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

    The mechanical properties of the green lacewing egg stalks are so remarkable that researchers would like to replicate them in technical fibers.  Wikimedia Commons, Karthik R. Bhat

    Innovative biofibers made from a silk protein of the green lacewing are being developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in conjunction with the company AMSilk GmbH. Researchers are working on producing the protein in large quantities by using biotechnology. The aim is to use the material in the future as a high-grade rigid fiber, for example, in lightweight plastics in transportation technology. It can also be conceivably used in medical technology, for example, as a biocompatible silk coating on implants. The Fraunhofer IAP is presenting its initial material sample at the International Green Week Berlin from January 20 to 29, 2017 in Hall 4.2, booth 212.

  • An International Team of Physicists Discovered a Coherent Amplification Effect in Laser Excited Dielectrics

    Copyright: Uni Kassel

    An international team of physicists from the University of Kassel, led by Prof. Thomas Baumert, and the University of Aarhus, led by Prof. Peter Balling, discovered that ultra-short laser pulses are amplified in a laser excited piece of glass. This amplification, similar to a classical laser, is directed and of coherent nature. By utilizing theoretical models and simulations, the researchers were able to understand and reproduce the multi-step process leading to the “Laser Amplification in Excited Dielectrics” (short: LADIE) named effect. Their results were published online in the well-known research journal Nature Physics.

  • An Unlikely Marriage Among Oxides

    Sebastian Siol showing a sample of heterostructural oxides, which could be a promising coating for smart windows. Empa

    Sebastian Siol is looking for new materials with unusual properties that were so far not accessible in experiments. To do this, he connects partners who don't really fit together: One partner forces the other into a state that would not be possible without the unlikely pairing. Siol also makes sure that the crystal bonds last in everyday life. Only then are they interesting for industrial applications.

  • Appointment of Prof. Schleifenbaum to the chair “Digital Additive Production“ at RWTH Aachen Uni

    Picture: “In the area of Additive Manufacturing, the applications and the transfer of know-how into the industry are particularly important!” © Schleifenbaum.

    Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dipl. Wirt.-Ing. Johannes Henrich Schleifenbaum has followed the call to the newly established chair – “Digital Additive Production DAP” – of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at RWTH Aachen University. He assumed the position on August 1, 2016. He also took over management of the competence area “Additive Manufacturing and Functional Layers” at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen on November 1, 2016. Pooled expertise in additive manufacturing technologies in Aachen. Along with RWTH Aachen University, FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences and industrial partners, the Fraunhofer Institutes ILT and IPT form a strong network promoting additive manufacturing (AM) technologies at an international level. In addition to the Photonics Cluster, inaugurated in April 2016 at the RWTH Aachen Campus, the newly established DAP chair rounds off the great spectrum of AM offered by Aachen’s R&D landscape.

  • Artificial Agent Designs Quantum Experiments

    The artificial agent uses optical elements such as this beam splitter to construct new and optimized experiments. Harald Ritsch

    On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

  • Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

    The matrix depicts the formation energy – an indicator of stability – of around two million possible compounds. (Image: University of Basel, Department of Chemistry)

    With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

  • atmoFlex – Fraunhofer FEP enhances its facilities for coating plastic films

    1,200 mm-wide slot die for contactless coating of fragile substrate can be heated up to 50°C. © Fraunhofer FEP, Fotograf: Jürgen Lösel

    A leader in thin-film technology R&D, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP in Dresden, Germany, has significantly enhanced its capabilities. Scientists will be explaining and illustrating the new opportunities using a model of the new coating machine atmoFlex at their trade fair booth during ICE 2017 in Munich/Germany (Hall A5, booth 1157), from March 21 – 23.

    Fraunhofer FEP has been pushing the technology development for thin-film coatings on plastic film for years. The basis for these advances has been its roll-to-roll process lines that facilitate the development of coating systems, from lab-scale to prototype samples, up through initial pilot manufacturing for industrial applications.

  • Attoseconds Break into Atomic Interior

    After the interaction of a xenon atom with two photons from an attosecond pulse (purple), the atom is ionized and multiple electrons (green balls) are ejected. This two-photon interaction is made possible by the latest achievements in attosecond technology. Graphic: Christian Hackenberger

    A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.