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Sep 24, 2012

New Research Findings Consistent With Theory of Impact Event 12,900 Years Ago

New research findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) are consistent with a controversial theory that an extraterrestrial body – such as a comet – impacted the Earth approximately 12,900 years ago, possibly contributing to the significant climatic and ecological changes that date to that time period. The paper includes… 

May 29, 2012

Precision Matters: Measuring Young’s Modulus

When it comes to nanoscale devices, precision is important. By extension, anything that gives researchers more accurate measurements of the nanoscale materials that make up those devices is also important. That’s why it’s news when someone comes up with a new technique to fine-tune a way of determining Young’s modulus for nanowires. What is Young’s… 

Apr 2, 2012

What Impact Can A Single Machine Have?

What impact can a single machine have? If it is an aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscope (AC-STEM), the impact may be pretty big. A uniquely-configured AC-STEM is a new arrival at NC State, but is expected to boost research across North Carolina’s Research Triangle – and help keep the region relevant in research and development (R&D)… 

Nov 10, 2011

Self-Assembling Patterns, Powered By Light

Researchers from NC State have developed a simple way to convert two-dimensional patterns into three-dimensional objects using only light. This demonstration video is pretty cool. An overview of the work is available here. The related paper, published in Soft Matter, is available here. 

Sep 6, 2011

How Electric Fields Could Change Ceramics

We reported last year on research showing that applying an electric field can result in stronger ceramic materials – and a cheaper, more energy-efficient manufacturing process. A new paper helps us understand why that happens – and what the limitations are. As an added bonus, researchers have also figured out a new, easier way to… 

Jul 19, 2011

Jell-O Memory

Researchers have come up with memory technology that feels like Jell-O. It’s made of water-based gels and liquid metal, and it works just fine when it is completely underwater. The device could be the first step towards developing a new generation of biocompatible electronics – such as medical sensors – because of its pliability, its… 

Jul 12, 2011

Using Data, Not Assumptions, To Make Safe Structures For Less Money

Each level of a parking garage is held up by a structure called an L-shaped spandrel beam. For years, manufacturers have been making these beams using inefficient assumptions, which meant they were using too much steel and putting it in the wrong places. Researchers have now collected actual data on these structures, allowing them to… 

Jul 1, 2011

One Person Can Change The World: Or At Least What The World Is Made Of

In 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, World War II was in full swing, and a young man named Hans Conrad was embarking on a career as a materials science researcher. Sixty-eight years later, he is still showing up to the lab every day, publishing top-notch papers and trying to figure out the physical and… 

Jun 22, 2011

The Dirt Whisperer

Say you’re a civil engineer, and you’re looking for a good place to put a bridge. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to ask the ground how stable it is before you start digging, like some sort of dirt whisperer?  Or how close an older bridge is to failing, after erosion has affected the… 

Jun 21, 2011

Concrete: It’s Everywhere, You Probably Don’t Understand It, And It’s Changing

We are always surrounded by things we don’t really understand, but there are few man-made substances as common, but little understood, as concrete. We walk on it, drive on it and live in buildings built on it (or even from it). And, while most people hardly ever think about it, there are researchers who think… 

Jun 15, 2011

What Is 3D Printing? And How Does It Work?

Three-dimensional (3D) printing holds promise for a wide variety of applications, from biomedical implants to space exploration. But when a friend asked me how it worked, I had no idea. It was a perfect excuse to learn something new. And now, dear reader, I can explain it to you. 3D printing is exactly what it… 

Mar 31, 2011

Nanoparticle Quilt

This image is a colorized transmission electron microscope (TEM) micrograph, and shows the orientation of iron platinum (FePt) nanoparticles in a thin film. The image was created as part of a research effort published in Langmuir this month. Most of the nanoparticles are enclosed by a hexagon of six neighboring nanoparticles. Each nanoparticle was color… 

Jan 26, 2011

Into The Void: Boosting LED Energy Efficiency

LEDs are already vaunted as an energy-efficient technology for lighting, but new research shows that their efficiency can be increased by a factor of two. A paper describing the work shows that the secret is to decrease the number of defects in the gallium nitride (GaN) films used to create LEDs by incorporating cleverly placed… 

Dec 6, 2010

Dispatches From The North Pole: The Science of Santa’s Sleigh

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of occasional dispatches from Dr. Larry Silverberg, a researcher at NC State who is leading a visiting scholars program at Santa’s Workshop-North Pole Labs (NPL). Dr. Silverberg is an expert in unified field theory and is accompanied by four other mechanical and aerospace engineers: Drs. Mohammad Zikry… 

Nov 29, 2010

Building a Better Sun-Trap

How does the saying go? Build a better solar cell and the world will beat a path to your efficiently temperature-controlled and environmentally friendly door? Okay, maybe that’s not exactly the saying, but you’ve got to admit that the idea of cheaper, more efficient solar technology is at least as compelling today as the idea…