In case you missed it (ICYMI), here are some of the stories that made headlines in the world of cleanrooms and nanotechnology in the past week:
One of the core concepts of alchemy — transmuting the elements — is enjoying a revival thanks to nanotechnology. Researchers at the University of Michigan are trying to create new materials by altering the nanoparticles used to build them. Atoms or molecules are added to the building blocks materials, or the shape is changed, which in turn controls the material’s behavior and properties. Nanoparticles could redefine the “elements” available to materials scientists, going from the 90 stable elements to an infinite palette of tiny synthetic particles, just a few hundred times the size of the atoms themselves. The researchers are exploring why particles build certain types of structures, because then they will be able to identify important attributes and therefore design particles that will produce those structures.
A group at MIT has created living clothing that morphs while the user sweats. MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group calls this idea “Radical Atoms,” which reflects a future where materials themselves are interactive (“material user interfaces,” or MUI). Their latest MUI project is called “BioLogic,” which intends to grow actuators to control the interfaces around us, rather than produce them in a factory. The team is striving to use the natural behavior of specific microorganisms to power objects and interfaces, kind of like a motor.
Finally, graphene is being eyed as a possible substance that could be used to create stronger, lighter cycling wheels and tires. Experts say that integrating graphene into the carbon resin will create a carbon-composite material that’s stronger, quicker, and heartier than existing carbon fiber. A cycling company is using one type of graphene on the braking surface of its wheels to enhance braking and dissipate heat, and a second version of graphene on the rim of its wheels to make the wheels mechanically stronger.