The sticky pads of gecko’s foot are helpful for climbing walls—but they could also help clean up dust, too. Researchers from Yale University have found that their microscopic structure could be used to gather ultra-fine dust that’s otherwise devilishly hard to capture.
Several years ago, scientists calculated the properties of an exotic form of carbon—called Carbyne—and found that it promised more strength and stiffness than any other known material. Now, it’s finally been made in a stable form inside an Austrian lab.
Soldering is still an incredibly common and useful process for repairing electronics, but it could be about to get a little cooler. Quite literally, because researchers have developed a new way to solder without heat.
A new kind of semiconductor is the first material with a 2D geometry to provide the electrical properties of silicon—but its shape could mean that it’s actually able to outperform the reliable old material.
All materials react to heat in some way. But this new shape-changing polymer reacts to temperatures as small as the touch of human skin to contract—in the process lifting as much as 1,000 times its own weight.
Aerogel is usually the preserve of expensive laboratory experiments—but what if you could make it from trash? Now, a team of researchers has developed a technique to turn scrap paper into an incredibly light, highly insulating super material.
In modern cities, there’s concrete at every turn. So it might surprise you to hear that, until now at least, we haven’t really understood how it works at the microscopic level—despite the fact that we trust it to build huge structures.
This looks like the kind of thin material you might make a trash bag out of. But that would be a waste because this material, made from carbon nanotubes, is stronger and more compliant than kevlar or carbon fiber.
There’s no denying that 3D printing is a fast and effective way to build new objects, but most engineers are taking tentative steps to its mass adoption because the results aren’t proven to be truly robust. Now, physicists hope to convince them once and for all.
When you compress most materials, you squash their atoms or molecules up against each other, shortening the bonds between them. But a new kind ultra-compressible material acts like a set of gears and springs that shrink in size.
Researchers from UCLA have created a new kind of metal composite made from magnesium infused with silicon carbide nanoparticles, and it’s both lightweight and super-strong.
Graphene is the best-known two-dimensional material, with its atom-thick layers proving plenty of fascinating material properties. But now a team of scientists has developed a new material with a similar structure that they’re calling borophene.
Material scientists are able to fuse together nanoparticles into complex miniature devices, but they currently use high temperatures which can damage the materials on which they’re built. Now, a new technique which uses less energy could help print them on plastic or paper.
Usually, dry glue is a sign that you need a new tube of adhesive. But researchers in Japan have developed a new type of glue that’s perfectly dry until you crush it—at which point it becomes super sticky.
It used to be the case that only skilled witches and wizards could make their origami fold itself. But now, clever Muggles have stumbled upon the non-magical secret behind autonomous paper—graphene.
In recent decades, material scientists have made ever-stronger metals—but the techniques used to weld them often ruin their properties. Now, a team has developed a way to weld together these previously un-weldable materials.
Perhaps you’re familiar with the strangeness of supercooled water: It stays liquid well below water’s freezing point until you give it a whack, and bam, it suddenly turns into solid ice. You’re probably less familiar diketopyrrolopyrrole (DPP) derivatives, which has similar but also odder properties.
Lithium ion batteries are wonderful things, but they're unfortunately given to short circuiting and bursting into flames every now and then. It's extraordinarily rare, but it happens. A Stanford research team thinks they've solved this little big problem by building an early warning system into an existing battery.…
The gap between material science and actual construction is very far and very wide. It can take decades to move a breakthrough in engineering from a lab to a building site. But as architects and engineers face bigger challenges—from earthquakes to dwindling resources to sheer cost—a new generation of smart materials…
A few years ago, we looked at NASA's long project to design a paint so black, it would absorb nearly every bit of light around it (that's it above, in the "D" spot). Now, NASA has finally launched the stuff into space—which means that the six-year effort to make it is finally paying off. So, why is this such a vital…