Material sciences

  • 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.

  • Batteries with Better Performance and Improved Safety

    Composition of the solid sodium battery. Empa

    Researchers from Empa and the University of Geneva have developed a prototype of a novel solid sodium battery with the potential to store extra energy. Phones, laptops, electric cars – batteries are everywhere. And to meet the expectations of today’s consumers, these batteries are increasin­gly lighter, more powerful and designed to last longer. Currently the core technology for these applications is lithium ion batteries. But the technology is expensive and contains a flammable liquid, which may represent a safety hazard, when the battery is abused.

  • Battery Research at Graz University of Technology: New Breakthroughs in Research on Super-batteries

    Stefan Freunberger vom Institut für Chemische Technologien von Materialien der TU Graz zählt auf in seinem Forschungsgebiet zu den weltweit führenden Wissenschaftern. © Lunghammer – TU Graz

    Researchers at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) in Austria have discovered a means of suppressing singlet oxygen formation in lithium-oxygen batteries in order to extend their useful lives. Since 2012, Stefan Freunberger of the Institute for Chemistry and Technology of Materials at TU Graz has been working on development of a new generation of batteries with enhanced performance and longer useful lives, and which are also cheaper to produce than current models. He believes that lithium-oxygen batteries have significant potential. In 2017, in the course of his work, Freunberger uncovered parallels between cell ageing in living organisms and in batteries. In both cases, highly reactive singlet oxygen is responsible for the ageing process.

  • Bioabbaubare Polymer-Beschichtung für Implantate

    Im mikroskopischen Fluoreszenzbild lassen sich die Strukturen aus Molekülen erkennen, die zu Testzwecken auf die bioabbaubare Beschichtung gedruckt wurden. Im mikroskopischen Fluoreszenzbild lassen sich die Strukturen aus Molekülen erkennen, die zu Testzwecken auf die bioabbaubare Beschichtung gedruckt wurden.  Bild: KIT

    Medizinische Implantate tragen oft Oberflächensubstrate, die Wirkstoffe abgeben oder auf denen Biomoleküle sowie Zellen besser haften können. Allerdings gab es bislang keine abbaubaren Gasphasenbeschichtungen für abbaubare Implantate wie chirurgische Nahtmaterialien oder Gerüste für die Gewebezucht. Eine Polymerbeschichtung, die im Körper wie ihr Träger abgebaut wird, stellen nun Forscher des Karlsruher Instituts für Technologie in der Fachzeitschrift Angewandte Chemie vor. „Unsere neuen abbaubaren Polymerfilme könnten breite Anwendung für die Funktionalisierung und Beschichtung von Oberflächen finden, in den Biowissenschaften über die Medizin bis hin zur Lebensmittelverpackung“, so Professor Joerg Lahann, Co-Direktor des Instituts für Funktionelle Grenzflächen am Karlsruher Institut für Technologie. Gemeinsam in einem internationalen Team stellte er Polymerfilme her, die mit funktionellen Seitengruppen als „Verankerungspunkte“ für Moleküle ausgestattet waren, an die sie Fluoreszenzfarbstoffe und Biomoleküle andocken ließen.

  • Biofilms as Construction Workers

    Red algae move towards the light and excrete chains of sugar molecules. By means of time-variable light patterns, the researchers obtain customized templates from these long, fine polymer threads, which they use for functional ceramics. (Photo: v. Opdenbosch/TUM)

    Biofilms are generally seen as a problem to be eradicated due to the hazards they pose for humans and materials. However, these communities of algae, fungi, or bacteria possess interesting properties both from a scientific and a technical standpoint. A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes processes from the field of biology that utilize biofilms as ‘construction workers’ to create structural templates for new materials that possess the properties of natural materials. In the past, this was only possible to a limited extent.

  • Biological Signalling Processes in Intelligent Materials

    Graphic: Wilfried Weber

     

    Scientists from the University of Freiburg have developed materials systems that are composed of biological components and polymer materials and are capable of perceiving and processing information. These biohybrid systems were engineered to perform certain functions, such as the counting signal pulses in order to release bioactive molecules or drugs at the correct time, or to detect enzymes and small molecules such as antibiotics in milk. The interdisciplinary team presented their results in some of the leading journals in the field, including Advanced Materials and Materials Today.

  • Bit Data Goes Anti-Skyrmions

    Anti-skyrmions on a racetrack. MPI of Microstructure Physics

    Today’s world, rapidly changing because of “big data”, is encapsulated in trillions of tiny magnetic objects – magnetic bits – each of which stores one bit of data in magnetic disk drives. A group of scientists from the Max Planck Institutes in Halle and Dresden have discovered a new kind of magnetic nano-object in a novel material that could serve as a magnetic bit with cloaking properties to make a magnetic disk drive with no moving parts – a Racetrack Memory – a reality in the near future.

  • Black Nanoparticles Slow the Growth of Tumors

    Infrared thermal images - Right side: Elevated tumor (yellow) temperature in mice after laser irradiation in with OMV-melanin treated mice. Left side: mouse treated with OMVs without melanin. Vipul Gujrati / Technical University of Munich

    The dark skin pigment melanin protects us from the sun’s damaging rays by absorbing light energy and converting it to heat. This could make it a very effective tool in tumor diagnosis and treatment, as demonstrated by a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Helmholtz Zentrum München. The scientists managed to create melanin-loaded cell membrane derived nanoparticles, which improved tumor imaging in an animal model while also slowing the growth of the tumor.

  • Breakthrough in Graphene Research

    Different patterns are formed at the edges of nanographene. Zigzags are particularly interesting but unstable. FAU researchers have succeeded in creating stable layers of carbon with this pattern. Image: FAU/Konstantin Amsharov

    Graphene is a promising material for use in nanoelectronics. Its electronic properties depend greatly, however, on how the edges of the carbon layer are formed. Zigzag patterns are particularly interesting in this respect, but until now it has been virtually impossible to create edges with a pattern like this. Chemists and physicists at FAU have now succeeded in producing stable nanographene with a zigzag edge. Not only that, the method they used was even comparatively simple.

  • Breakthrough in materials science: Kiel research team can bond metals with nearly all surfaces

    The targeted etching process of “nanoscale-sculpturing” roughens the upper layer of metal (here aluminium, 20 µm = 0.02 mm), thereby creating a 3D-structure with tiny hooks.   Melike Baytekin‐Gerngroß

    How metals can be used depends particularly on the characteristics of their surfaces. A research team at Kiel University has discovered how they can change the surface properties without affecting the mechanical stability of the metals or changing the metal characteristics themselves. This fundamentally new method is based on using an electro-chemical etching process, in which the uppermost layer of a metal is roughened on a micrometer scale in a tightly-controlled manner. Through this “nanoscale-sculpturing” process, metals such as aluminium, titanium, or zinc can permanently be joined with nearly all other materials, become water-repellent, or improve their biocompatibility.

  • Breakthrough with 3D printed Gas Turbine Blades

    Extreme conditions for the 3D-printed blades: The blades had to endure 13,000 revolutions per minute and temperatures beyond 1,250 degrees Celsius.

    Siemens has achieved a breakthrough in the 3D printing of gas turbine blades. For the first time, a team of experts has full-load tested gas turbine blades that were entirely produced using additive manufacturing. The tests were conducted at the Siemens test center for industrial gas turbines in Lincoln, Great Britain. Over the course of several months, Siemens engineers from Lincoln, Berlin, and the Swedish municipality of Finspong worked with experts from Materials Solutions to optimize the gas turbine blades and their production. Within just 18 months, the international project team succeeded in developing the entire process chain, from the design of individual components, to the development of materials, all the way to new methods of quality control and the simulation of component service life. In addition, Siemens tested a new additively manufactured blade design with a fully revised and improved internal cooling geometry.

  • Brightest Source of Entangled Photon

    Optical setup for experiments with entangled photons at IFW Dresden. Photo: Jürgen Loesel

    Scientists at Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden (IFW) and at Leibniz University Hannover (LUH) have developed a broadband optical antenna for highly efficient extraction of entangled photons. With a yield of 37% per pulse, it is the brightest source of entangled photons reported so far.

  • Bringing 3D models to life acoustically

    Bringing virtual poducts and machines to life acoustically is the goal of Fraunhofer IDMT´s research. Fraunhofer IDMT

    At Hannover Messe, taking place April 24 – 28, Fraunhofer IDMT will be presenting the findings from a research project on making the sounds of electrically powered machines, devices, or components audible during virtual product development already. New developments allow the use of 3D models to analyze, assess and improve the acoustic properties of products, instead of building costly real prototypes.

    What do heavy production machinery, such as milling machines or CNC cutting machines, and household appliances, like washing machines or hair dryers, have in common? Not very much, one might suppose imagining the visual characteristics of these different objects only. But if we extend our imagination to hearing, we will find that all these objects produce specific sounds.

  • Call for Abstracts: 3rd Euro Intelligent Materials

    © Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel (Germany)

    The 3rd European Symposium on Intelligent Materials will take place in Kiel (Germany) from 7th to 9th June 2017. Conference chairs are Christine Selhuber-Unkel and Eckhard Quandt from the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (Germany).

  • Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

    Artistic rendering of a light-emitting transistor with carbon nanotubes between two mirrors for electrical generation of polaritons. Image credit: Dr Yuriy Zakharko, co-author

    Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University (Germany) and the University of St Andrews (Scotland) used light-emitting and extremely stable transistors to reach strong light-matter coupling and create exciton-polaritons. These particles may pave the way for new light sources, so-called electrically pumped polariton lasers, that could be manufactured with carbon nanotubes.

  • Carinthia continues to expand Villach as a microelectronics research cluster

    CTR research cleanroom media conference from left: Werner Scherf (CTR), Gaby Schaunig (Deputy Governor of Carinthia), Simon Grasser (CTR)  CTR/Helge Bauer

    Carinthian Tech Research (CTR) invests €4.5 Mio in research cleanroom for microsensors and systems integration. Carinthian government supports investment in high-tech facilities at the Villach site.

    CTR Carinthian Tech Research is on of Austria’s largest application-oriented research centres in the area of smart sensors and systems integration. In close cooperation with industry, over 70 researchers work on developing the tiniest microsensors and power electronics as well as their assembly and packaging. An important new addition to the R&D facilities at the Villach site is the recently built research cleanroom, which is now available for microchip research and systems integration.

  • CeGlaFlex project: wafer-thin, unbreakable and flexible ceramic and glass

    Picture 1: A matter of shape: the Fraunhofer CeGlaFlex project is developing very thin, malleable and transparent protective covers for OLEDs in the roll-to-roll process. © Fraunhofer FEP, Dresden, Germany.

    Only twice as thick as a strand of hair, or around 100 µm: that’s how thin the transparent, scratchproof and malleable ceramic layers of the future that are meant to protect portable electronics are. Since March 2017, the methods and process chains for producing this material have been in development at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT as part of a three-year research project called CeGlaFlex. Mobile electronics, regardless of whether it is a cellular phone, tablet or blood pressure monitor, rely on the quality of their touch-screen displays. In keeping with the trend of individually shaped smart devices, they should be not only scratchproof, unbreakable and chemically stable, but also easy to mold.

  • Cfaed Researchers of TU Dresden Uncover Doping in Organic Semiconductors

    Geometry of a molecular cluster of dopant and host molecules with benzimidazoline dopant and a C60 molecule. S. Schellhammer/ F. Ortmann

    A group of physicists from the cfaed at TU Dresden, together with researchers from Japan, were able to demonstrate in a study how the doping of organic semiconductors can be simulated and experimentally verified. The study has now been published in “Nature Materials”. In semiconductor technology, doping refers to the intentional introduction of impurities (also known as dopants) into a layer or into the intrinsic semiconductor of an integrated circuit.