Tag Archives: Materials

Ecole Makes World’s First Molybdenite Chip

After Silicon and Graphene, it might be the turn of Molybdenite to steal the limelight. Scientists at  Ã‰cole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne,  or EPFL, have synthesized the world’s first Molybdenite chip. It has a number of advantages over the conventional silicon chip, including greater energy efficiency and integration of transistors on a larger scale.

The Molybdenite Chip (Courtesy: EPFL, 2011)

Molybdenite vs Silicon vs Graphene!

Molybdenum disulphide, or MoS2, is found much more widely than Silicon. It has high flexibility and also good semi-conducting properties. The greatest advantage of Molybdenite is that it allows for drastic miniaturization. Silicon cannot be made less than 2 nm thick, since, on further thinning, it oxidizes and the surface properties are lost. Molybdenite can be made as thin as 3 atomic layers.

Molybdenite can even rival graphene. The main problem with Graphene is the lack of any natural bandgap. Silicon is extremely convenient in this respect with a 0.7 V bandgap at room temperature. Molybdenite has no such bandgap problems. Though electronic mobility for molybdenite is much less than that of Graphene, for normal circuitry (i.e. not RF circuits) Molybdenite can be easily implemented. The switching speed is much higher than silicon transistors, but less than Graphene. However, the on-off voltage ratio is much higher for molybdenite than for Graphene, making it a better switch, if the switching operations need not be very fast.

All of this coupled with the obvious amplification properties, make Molybdenite a good option for future electronics.

The flexibility of Molybdenite inspires flexible sheets of chips that can be strapped onto a human hand! How’s that for a futuristic vision?

Creating Real 3D Images In Air By Making Plasma With Lasers! [With a Video]

This is just too cool. Forget about the 3D optical illusion that is used to show 3D movies, this 3D technology is for real! The True 3D display technology creates plasma at specific points in air (or under water) and hence forms a true 3D picture. The plasma is formed by a high frequency laser, powerful enough to create pockets of plasma that give off light.

Making a plasma show!

The technology is developed by Burton and improves upon a previously known version of 3D technology. The researchers point out that this is the first time you can show pictures without any screen!

This system can create about 50,000 dots per second, and its frame rate is currently about 10-15 fps. But we’re working to improve the frame rate to 24-30 fps.

Presently, they are testing the system with a green laser in water, as it takes much less energy to make plasma in water than in air. The results are definitely positive. They plan to use a higher power laser to make such images in air! The next step would be to generate multiple colors using red, blue and green lasers. The final step would be to use this system to screen a short film!

This following video (Courtesy: diginfo.com) should be self-explanatory. Warning: When I first saw it, my mind was completely blown! Enjoy.

Has the time for a redefinition of a 3D film imminent in a few years?

Source and More Info here:  http://www.diginfo.tv/2011/11/14/11-0231-r-en.php

With Revolutionary New Technology, Samsung Promises to Turn Your Window Into An LED Screen

A Revolution in LED fabrication technology has allowed Samsung to paint its own picture of the future.

Samsung has announced a major breakthrough with LED technology. They promise to make ordinary glass screens act as LED screens. They even predict touch sensitive screens made of ordinary glass. The glass panes in windows can double up as entertainment devices, display or even lighting screens.

These should get bigger!

The Breakthrough

The great breakthrough is that the company’s R&D has discovered how to fabricate crystalline Gallium Nitride, the standard wide bandgap semiconductor used for LED screens, on an amorphous glass substrate, rather than crystalline Sapphire substrate.

This breakthrough will also help Samsung develop bigger LED screens at very low prices. Your window screen can function as an LED screen that you can use for advertising, lighting or even watching a movie. Soon you might be able to see entire building lit up, with the windows acting as LED screens. Samsung predicts about a 400 times increase in the size of LEDs available in the market now. A 2 inch LED could swell up to 800 inches!

Imagine electronics added to that, John: Russell Crowe as the eccentric genius John Nash in 'A Beautiful Mind' writing on his office window.

It’s still some time away

The technology is in its infancy, however. Samsung thinks that it could take upto 10 years to make the product commercially available to everyone.  Don’t get excited about the touchscreen promise just yet! There’s a long way to go.

Did Samsung just answer its own question: Next is What?

Princeton Team Creates Plastic “Flying Carpet”

It is Arabian Nights recreated, but not quite. A team of researchers at Princeton has come up with a plastic, which remains suspended when a current of particular frequency is passed through it. Piezoelectric actuators and sensors respond to the electrical signals and send ripples across the entire surface of the thin sheet, displacing air pockets right beneath it. This allows the sheet to float. Synchronized vibrations can push these air pockets from the front to the back of the sheet, allowing propulsion.

The Flying Carpet Contraption

The “Flying” Carpet

The Flying Carpet’ has been designed by a graduate student at Princeton Mr. Noah Jafferis. He says that he was inspired by a mathematical paper he read, which was written by Harvard professor Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan.

The propulsion is also inspired by the way stingrays move in the water. They create ripples through their flattened bodies in a manner so as to displace water in a particular direction. The reaction force propels the rays in the opposite direction.

More Work to be Done!

There are problems though. The plastic sheet bends too much at high frequencies. Nevertheless Jafferis has already assigned himself a new project. To build such a thing powered by solar cells. This current model uses heavy batteries, which are kept on the table and connected to the sheet by wires. Thus, the plastic can hardly move more than a few centimeters. Further, the speed is pretty slow at 1 cm/s. Jafferis wants to go to upto as high as 1 m/s.

In the paper that they published Applied Physics Letters, Jafferis and team consciously put flying’ within double-quotes, indicating that it is not really a flying object, just a hovering one.

As for applications, there may be many. Right now, people are just concentrating on building this fascinating thing. It’s still a long way from the fast flying magical carpets we’re so used to seeing in the cartoons.

Transparent Loudspeakers Made From Graphene Using Inkjet Printing Technology

Researchers at Seoul University have come up with the utmost innovation in sound technology transparent loud speakers, made using Graphene. The team used a special kind of plastic material called Poly Vinylidene Flouride (PVDF), on which a layer of Graphene Oxide was printed’ in order to achieve this.

Arrangement of Graphitic layers. Graphene is simply one graphite layer.

Graphene is a single layer of carbon (picture above), manufactured by industrial methods like Carbon Vapour Deposition or by simply stripping away at Graphite using Scotch Tape. It is the material, hot and happening, in today’s material science research.

The Ink

Graphene Oxide was used as the ink. Prepared using known and tested methods, the synthesized Graphene oxide was filled in an empty inkjet printer cartridge. This would be the ink’ for printing on the PVDF.


The PVDF was treated using low oxygen plasma treatment, so that the surface is amiable for printing’.

The technology used for printing was the regular inkjet printer technology. The moment two layers of Graphene oxide were printed’ uniformly on the two sides of the PVDF, the entire material behaved like an electrolyte and the Graphene layer acted as the electrodes. Dipping the printed sheet of PVDF into hydrazine and ammonia solution completed the printing process.

A sheet of graphene

The rest of the process is straight forward. Regular digital pulses of electricity excite the PVDF sheet and due to the piezoelectric effect (or its inverse, if you prefer), the PVDF sheet bends in specific ways so as to produce sound waves.

Where might this be useful?

The applications are immense. Soon, one might have screens with a thin PVDF-Graphene layer, doubling up as the primary speakers on his/her laptop. Giant screens would be their own audio sources. Even the car windshields or windows might double as the entertainment devices. There is also the huge possibility of inducing anti-noise vibrations, making these PVDF speakers perfect for noise reduction.

The good news is that these are extremely inexpensive and quite durable. The bad news is that the sound quality needs a lot to be desired, especially at low scales.

Wonder material Graphene does it again, but there are still chinks to iron out. Graphene is hot, really hot. Is that loud and clear?

Smart Material: A Metal That Becomes Hard Or Soft At The Flick Of A Switch

The only difference between science facts and science fiction is that facts have to be stranger. A German materials scientist Jörg Weißmüller and Chinese physicist Hai-Jun Jin have created a metallic material that can go hard or soft at the flick of a switch. The material is porous and responds to electrical signals, making it go hard and brittle to soft and malleable.

What is it?

The material is mainly made up of metals such as gold. This is then placed in a strongly acidic medium, which makes it porous. These pores are then filled with a liquid which is conducting in nature, like saline water. This liquid holds the key, as when a current is passed, electrons are withdrawn from the surface of the metals (or added, as the case may be). This leads to an increase (or decrease) in the hardness of the material. The duo measured the increase of the strength of the material and found that it sometimes doubled.

The pores

The Future?

The prospect of such a material need hardly be spelt out explicitly. The project is still in its infancy and will require more fundamental research before it can be used as a technology.  As Weißmüller points out,

We are still at the fundamental research stage but our discovery may bring significant progress in the development of so-called smart materials.

Scientists are already contemplating the path forward with materials that can be hard in one portion and malleable in another. A further development might be materials that heal themselves. A crack in a hard material can be healed by softening it, making it malleable and then fixing it.

The future belongs to smart materials. We already told you about moldable metals and now a material whose hardness is switchable. Watch this space for more…

Apple Interested: Researchers At Yale Develop Metallic Material That Can Be Molded Like Plastic

Engineers have long craved for a material that is as strong as steel, having good conducting properties, but also being moldable like putty. They may soon get such a material, thanks to research done at Yale University. Moreover, it is cheap to produce. Apple has taken a particular interest in this, planning to make iPhones and iPads out of this material in future.

The new material is called ‘bulk metallic glasses’ (or BMG’s) and it has a structure akin to a metal alloy, but not quite. It is stronger than steel and is as moldable as plastic.

One of the gemstone studded badges developed in the lab using BMG's


What is it?

This is great news for fabricators working in fields of condensed matter physics and material sciences, not to mention plastic and synthetic makers. The ‘alloy’ is a mix of metals like zirconium, nickel, titanium and copper, and arranged in a structural pattern that is in-between a metal and a plastic. The key property of the material is that it doesn’t possess the long-range, crystalline order of metals. The atoms are not completely randomly oriented either. This gives the material the hardness and durability of metals, as well as the flexibility of plastics.


The fabrication of the material is also one of the pluses. The manufacture happens in one step. No ‘finishing touches’ are required to perfect the shape either. The shaping process involves inexpensive procedures used in the plastic industry, such as blow molding at low pressures, after slight heating.

A tiny perfume bottle made with BMG. The whole structure is completely seamless, and thus free of any weak contours

As Jan Schroers, leader of the research team at Yales and ex-director of research at Liquidmetal Technologies, notes:

It’s the low temperatures and low pressures that allowed the team to shape the BMGs with unprecedented ease, versatility and precision, Schroers said. In order to carefully control and maintain the ideal temperature for blow molding, the team shaped the BMGs in a vacuum or in fluid.

Jan Schroers with bottle fabricated using BMG in his lab

The blow molding method reduces friction to nearly zero, even at nanoscales, allowing the material to be made into any shape with utmost ease. Jan Schroers already sees a potential application in the manufacture of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), tiny mechanical devices that run on tiny electrical currents. Apple has quickly moved close to sanctioning a huge amount for commercializing BMG’s, aiming to use it for future iPhones and iPads.

Schroers signs off with the perfect last word:

This could enable a whole new paradigm for shaping metals.