Journal News

SGL Group acquires carbon group
https://www.materialstoday.com/amorphous/news/sgl-group-acquires-carbon-group/

SGL Technologies Composites, a subsidiary of SGL Carbon SE, has acquired a 50% share in Benteler Carbon Composites in the Benteler-SGL GmbH joint venture, becoming the sole owner of the company.

‘The complete takeover of Benteler-SGL enables us to expand our serial production capabilities for components made from fiber-reinforced composites,’ said Jürgen Köhler, CEO of SGL Group. ‘In future, we will be able to offer our customers one-stop-shop solutions along all steps of the value chain, from carbon fibers to materials and components. This serial production expertise will also be made available to other industries.’

‘We will continue our successful partnership with SGL Group in the future to purchase products made of glass or carbon fiber reinforced plastic, where necessary,’ added Laurent Favre, CEO of Benteler Automotive.

Composite components

The Benteler-SGL joint venture was founded in 2008 and is a developer and large-scale producer of lightweight composite components based on glass and carbon fiber for the automotive industry. In 2016, the joint venture generated sales revenues of around €33 million with a workforce of 221. Its product range includes components such as car roofs, rear spoilers, and leaf springs made from fiber composite materials. Manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Lamborghini, Porsche and Volvo are among its customers.

Following the acquisition, the company's two sites in in Austria will become part of SGL’s Composites Fibers & Materials (CFM) business unit and will operate under the SGL Group brand. 

This story is reprinted from material from SGLwith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.

ASTM to set up 3D printing center of excellence
https://www.materialstoday.com/additive-manufacturing/news/astm-to-set-up-3d-printing-center-of-excellence-/

ASTM International plans to establish a center of excellence in the field of additive manufacturing (AM) and is calling for proposals from industry and academia aimed at creating a global innovation hub to advance AM technical standards, related R&D, and education and training.

The organization plans for the center to also serve as a consortium in attracting stakeholders from the aviation, automotive, medical, and other industries that are increasingly engaged in AM applications.

 The center will be supported with up to US$250,000 annually for up to five years, provided from funds and in-kind contributions. In-kind support could increase the award amount beyond US$250,000.

Letters of intent are due 27 November with full proposals due shortly thereafter on 15 December. The winning proposal will be announced in early 2018. Applicants are expected to emphasize approaches that maximize coordination and collaboration among academia, industry, and governments, says ASTM, which could select up to two awardees as part of this initiative.

Standards development

‘Over the last decade, hundreds of the world’s top experts in additive manufacturing have pioneered the development of new standards through ASTM International,’ said Katharine Morgan, the organization’s president. ‘We are thrilled to take this next bold step to bridge standards development with R&D, while also meeting the growing demand for related services in this field.’

This story is reprinted from material from ASTMwith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.

Fall in UK car production
https://www.materialstoday.com/powder-applications/news/fall-in-uk-car-production/

UK car manufacturing fell in September, with year-on-year output declining -4.1%, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 6,500 fewer cars rolled off production lines than in the same month last year, with a total output of 153,224. 
 
Production for export fell by 1.1% in line with slower growth across EU markets, while domestic demand in the month dropped 14.2% to 31,421 units, contributing to an overall year-to-date production decrease of 2.2%. 

‘With UK car manufacturing falling for a fifth month this year, it’s clear that declining consumer and business confidence is affecting domestic demand and hence production volumes,’ said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. ‘Uncertainty regarding the national air quality plans also didn’t help the domestic market for diesel cars, despite the fact that these new vehicles will face no extra charges or restrictions across the UK. 

‘Brexit is the greatest challenge of our times and yet we still don’t have any clarity on what our future relationship with our biggest trading partner will look like, nor detail of the transitional deal being sought. Leaving the EU with no deal would be the worst outcome for our sector so we urge government to deliver on its commitments and safeguard the competitiveness of the industry.’

This story is reprinted from material from the SMMTwith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.

Defective electrodes produce better lithium-ion batteries
https://www.materialstoday.com/energy/news/defective-electrodes-better-lithiumion-batteries/

This illustration shows the growth of a lithium-deficient phase (blue) at the expense of a lithium-rich phase (red) in a lithium iron phosphate microrod. Image: Mesoscale Materials Modeling Group/Rice University.
This illustration shows the growth of a lithium-deficient phase (blue) at the expense of a lithium-rich phase (red) in a lithium iron phosphate microrod. Image: Mesoscale Materials Modeling Group/Rice University.

High-performance electrodes for lithium-ion batteries can be improved by paying closer attention to their defects – and capitalizing on them, according to scientists at Rice University.

Rice materials scientist Ming Tang and chemists Song Jin at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Linsen Li at Wisconsin and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) led a study that combined state-of-the-art, in situ X-ray spectroscopy and modeling to gain insight into lithium transport in battery cathodes. They found that a common cathode material for lithium-ion batteries, olivine lithium iron phosphate, releases or takes in lithium ions over a much larger surface area than previously thought.

"We know this material works very well but there's still much debate about why," Tang said. "In many aspects, this material isn't supposed to be so good, but somehow it exceeds people's expectations."

Part of the reason, Tang said, comes from point defects – atoms misplaced in the crystal lattice – known as antisite defects; such defects are impossible to eliminate completely in the fabrication process. As it turns out, he said, they make real-world electrode materials behave very differently from perfect crystals.

That and other revelations in a paper in Nature Communications could potentially help manufacturers develop better versions of the lithium-ion batteries that power electronic devices worldwide.

The lead authors of the study – Liang Hong of Rice and Li of Wisconsin and MIT – and their colleagues collaborated with scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory to use its powerful synchrotron light sources. This allowed them to observe in real time what happens inside the battery material when it is being charged. They also employed computer simulations to explain their observations.

One revelation, Tang said, was that microscopic defects in electrodes are a feature, not a bug. "People usually think defects are a bad thing for battery materials, that they destroy properties and performance," he said. "With the increasing amount of evidence, we realized that having a suitable amount of point defects can actually be a good thing."

Inside a defect-free, perfect crystal lattice of a lithium iron phosphate cathode, lithium can only move in one direction, Tang said. Because of this, it is believed the lithium intercalation reaction can happen over only a fraction of the particle's surface area.

But the team made a surprising discovery when analyzing Li's X-ray spectroscopic images. The surface reaction takes place on the large side of his imperfect, synthesized microrods, countering theoretical predictions that the sides would be inactive because they are parallel to the perceived movement of lithium.

The researchers explained that particle defects fundamentally change the electrode's lithium transport properties and enable lithium to hop inside the cathode along more than one direction. That increases the reactive surface area and allows for more efficient exchange of lithium ions between the cathode and electrolyte.

Because the cathode in this study was made by a typical synthesis method, Tang said, the finding is highly relevant to practical applications.

"What we learned changes the thinking on how the shape of lithium iron phosphate particles should be optimized," he said. "Assuming one-dimensional lithium movement, people tend to believe the ideal particle shape should be a thin plate because it reduces the distance lithium needs to travel in that direction and maximizes the reactive surface area at the same time. But as we now know that lithium can move in multiple directions, thanks to defects, the design criteria to maximize performance will certainly look quite different."

The second surprising observation, Tang said, has to do with the movement of phase boundaries in the cathode as it is charged and discharged.

"When you take heat out of water, it turns into ice," he said. "And when you take lithium out of these particles, it forms a different lithium-poor phase, like ice, that coexists with the initial lithium-rich phase." The phases are separated by an interface, or a phase boundary. How fast the lithium can be extracted depends on how fast the phase boundary moves across a particle, he said.

Unlike in bulk materials, Tang explained, it has been predicted that phase boundary movement in small battery particles can be limited by the surface reaction rate. The researchers were able to provide the first concrete evidence for this surface reaction-controlled mechanism, but with a twist.

"We see the phase boundary move in two different directions through two different mechanisms, either controlled by surface reaction or lithium bulk diffusion," he said. "This hybrid mechanism paints a more complicated picture about how phase transformation happens in battery materials. Because it can take place in a large group of electrode materials, this discovery is fundamental for understanding battery performance and highlights the importance of improving the surface reaction rate."

This story is adapted from material from Rice University, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.

Wet mussels inspire stretchy but strong dry polymer
https://www.materialstoday.com/polymers-soft-materials/news/wet-mussels-inspire-stretchy-strong-dry-polymer/

UCSBs Emmanouela Filipiddi and Thomas Cristiani. Photo: Matt Perko.
UCSBs Emmanouela Filipiddi and Thomas Cristiani. Photo: Matt Perko.

A wide range of polymer-based materials, from tire rubber and wetsuit neoprene to Lycra clothing and silicone, are elastomers valued for their ability to flex and stretch without breaking before returning to their original form.

Making such materials stronger usually means making them more brittle. That's because, structurally, elastomers are rather shapeless networks of polymer strands – often compared to a bundle of disorganized spaghetti noodles – held together by a few chemical cross-links. Strengthening a polymer requires increasing the density of cross-links between the strands by creating more links. This causes the elastomer's strands to resist stretching away from each other, giving the material a more organized structure but also making it stiffer and more prone to failure.

A team of researchers affiliated with the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB)'s Materials Research Laboratory (MRL) has now developed a method for overcoming the inherent trade-off between strength and flexibility in elastomeric polymers. As they report in a paper in Science, their inspiration was the tough, flexible polymeric byssal threads that marine mussels use to secure themselves to surfaces in the rugged intertidal zone.

"In the past decade, we have made tremendous advances in understanding how biological materials maintain strength under loading," said corresponding author Megan Valentine, an associate professor in UCSB's Department of Mechanical Engineering. "In this paper, we demonstrate our ability to use that understanding to develop useful manmade materials. This work opens exciting lanes of discovery for many commercial and industrial applications."

Previous efforts inspired by the mussel's cuticle chemistry have been limited to wet, soft systems such as hydrogels. By contrast, the UCSB researchers incorporated mussel-inspired iron coordination bonds into a dry polymeric system. This is important because such a dry polymer could potentially be substituted for stiff but brittle materials, especially in impact- and torsion-related applications.

"We found that the wet network was 25 times less stiff and broke at five times shorter elongation than a similarly constructed dry network," explained co-lead author Emmanouela Filippidi, a postdoctoral researcher in the Valentine Lab at UCSB. "That's an interesting result, but an expected one. What's really striking is what happened when we compared the dry network before and after adding iron. Not only did it maintain its stretchiness but it also became 800 times stiffer and 100 times tougher in the presence of these reconfigurable iron-catechol bonds. That was unexpected."

To achieve networks with architecture and performance similar to those of the mussel byssal cuticle, the team synthesized an amorphous, loosely cross-linked epoxy network and then treated it with iron to form dynamic iron-catechol cross-links. In the absence of iron, when one of the covalent cross-links breaks, it is broken forever, because no mechanism for self-healing exists. But when the reversible iron-catechol coordination bonds are present, any of those iron-containing broken cross-links can reform, not necessarily in exactly the same place but nearby, thus maintaining the material's resiliency even as its strength increases. The material is both stiffer and tougher than similar networks lacking iron-containing coordination bonds.

As the iron-catechol network is stretched, it doesn't store the energy, so when the tension is released, the material doesn't bounce back like a rubber band but, rather, dissipates the energy. The material then slowly recovers to reassume its original shape, in much the same way a viscoelastic material such as memory foam does after the pressure on it is released.

"A material having that characteristic, called an 'energy-dissipative plastic,' is useful for coatings," said co-lead author Thomas Cristiani, a UCSB graduate student. "It would make a great cellphone case because it would absorb a large amount of energy, so the phone would be less likely to break upon impact with the floor and would be protected."

The dry system the researchers used is important for two other reasons as well. In a wet system, the network absorbs water, causing the polymer chains to stretch, so there is not much extra flexibility left. But with a dry material, the amorphous spaghetti-like strands are initially very compact, with a lot of room to stretch. When the iron cross-links are added to strengthen the polymer, the stretchiness of the dry material is not compromised, because those bonds can break, so the polymer chains are not locked in place. Additionally, removing the water from the network results in the catechol and iron being closer together and able to form regions of high connectivity, which improves the mechanical properties.

"This difference between response in wet and dry systems is huge and makes our approach a game-changer in terms of synthesizing useful engineering materials for high-impact applications," Valentine said.

This story is adapted from material from the University of California Santa Barbara, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.

Scientists take cool look at dendrite growth
https://www.materialstoday.com/characterization/news/scientists-take-cool-look-at-dendrite-growth/

This image of a lithium metal dendrite, taken with cryo-EM, shows that freezing has preserved its original state, revealing that it's a crystalline nanowire with six well-defined facets. Image: Y. Li et al., Science.
This image of a lithium metal dendrite, taken with cryo-EM, shows that freezing has preserved its original state, revealing that it's a crystalline nanowire with six well-defined facets. Image: Y. Li et al., Science.

Scientists from Stanford University and the US Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have captured the first atomic-level images of finger-like growths called dendrites that can pierce the barrier between battery compartments and trigger short circuits or fires. Dendrites and the problems they cause have been a stumbling block on the road to developing new types of batteries that store more energy so that electric cars, cell phones, laptops and other devices can go longer between charges.

This is the first study to examine the inner lives of batteries with cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), a technique whose ability to image delicate, flash-frozen proteins and other ‘biological machines’ in atomic detail was honored with the 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

The new images reveal that each lithium metal dendrite is a long, beautifully formed six-sided crystal – not the irregular, pitted shape depicted in previous electron microscope shots. The ability to see this level of detail for the first time with cryo-EM will give scientists a powerful tool for understanding how batteries and their components work at the most fundamental level. It will thus allow them to investigate why high-energy batteries used in laptops, cell phones, airplanes and electric cars sometimes fail. The researchers report their findings in a paper in Science.

"This is super exciting and opens up amazing opportunities," said Yi Cui, a professor at SLAC and Stanford and an investigator with the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES), whose group conducted the research.

"With cryo-EM, you can look at a material that's fragile and chemically unstable and you can preserve its pristine state – what it looks like in a real battery – and look at it under high resolution," he said. "This includes all kinds of battery materials. The lithium metal we studied here is just one example, but it's an exciting and very challenging one."

Cui's lab is one of many developing strategies to prevent damage from dendrites. These strategies include adding chemicals to the electrolyte to keep them from growing or developing a ‘smart’ battery that automatically shuts off when it senses that dendrites are invading the barrier between the battery's chambers.

But until now, scientists have not been able to get atomic-scale images of dendrites or other sensitive battery parts. The method of choice – transmission electron microscopy (TEM) – is too harsh for many materials, including lithium metal.

"TEM sample preparation is carried out in air, but lithium metal corrodes very quickly in air," said Yuzhang Li, a Stanford graduate student who led the work with fellow grad student Yanbin Li. "Every time we tried to view lithium metal at high magnification with an electron microscope the electrons would drill holes in the dendrite or even melt it altogether.

"It's like focusing sunlight onto a leaf with a magnifying glass. But if you cool the leaf at the same time you focus the light on it, the heat will be dissipated and the leaf will be unharmed. That's what we do with cryo-EM. When it comes to imaging these battery materials, the difference is very stark."

In cryo-EM, samples are flash-frozen by dipping them into liquid nitrogen, then sliced for examination under the microscope. You can freeze a whole coin-cell battery at a particular point in its charge-discharge cycle, remove the component you're interested in and see what is happening inside that component at atomic scales. You could even create a stop-action movie of battery activity by stringing together images taken at different points in the cycle.

For this study, the team used a cryo-EM instrument at Stanford School of Medicine to examine thousands of lithium metal dendrites that had been exposed to various electrolytes. They looked not only at the metal part of the dendrite, but also at a coating known as a solid electrolyte interphase (SEI), which develops as the dendrite reacts with the surrounding electrolyte. This same coating also forms on metal electrodes as a battery charges and discharges, and controlling its growth and stability are crucial for efficient battery operation.

To their surprise, the researchers discovered that the dendrites are crystalline, faceted nanowires that prefer to grow in certain directions. Some of them developed kinks as they grew, but their crystal structure remained surprisingly intact in spite of the kinks.

Zooming in, they used a different technique to look at the way electrons bounced off the atoms in the dendrite, which revealed the locations of individual atoms in both the crystal and its SEI coating. When they added a chemical commonly used to improve battery performance, the atomic structure of the SEI coating became more orderly, and they think this may help explain why the additive works.

"We were really excited. This was the first time we were able to get such detailed images of a dendrite, and we also saw the nanostructure of the SEI layer for the first time," said Yanbin Li. "This tool can help us understand what different electrolytes do and why certain ones work better than others."

Going forward, the researchers say they plan to focus on learning more about the chemistry and structure of the SEI layer.

This story is adapted from material from the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.

Sliding boundaries could lead to stronger materials
https://www.materialstoday.com/crystalline-materials/news/sliding-boundaries-stronger-materials/

The sliding of a perfect twin boundary, with mirrored crystal lattices on both sides, was long considered to be impossible at room temperature in metals. Researchers have now shown that it is possible when a nanoscale twin boundary within a copper nanopillar is compressed along certain orientations, through in-situ transmission electron microscopy (left) and molecular dynamics simulation (right). Image: Zhang-Jie Wang, Qing-Jie Li, Ming Dao, Evan Ma, Subra Suresh, Zhi-Wei Shan.
The sliding of a perfect twin boundary, with mirrored crystal lattices on both sides, was long considered to be impossible at room temperature in metals. Researchers have now shown that it is possible when a nanoscale twin boundary within a copper nanopillar is compressed along certain orientations, through in-situ transmission electron microscopy (left) and molecular dynamics simulation (right). Image: Zhang-Jie Wang, Qing-Jie Li, Ming Dao, Evan Ma, Subra Suresh, Zhi-Wei Shan.

Most metals and semiconductors, from the steel in a knife blade to the silicon in a solar panel, are made up of many tiny crystalline grains. The way these grains meet at their edges can have a major impact on the material's properties, including its mechanical strength, electrical conductivity, thermal properties, flexibility and so on.

When the boundaries between the grains are of a particular type, called a coherent twin boundary (CTB), this adds useful properties to certain materials, especially at the nanoscale. It increases their strength, making the material much stronger while preserving its ability to be deformed, unlike most other processes that add strength. Now, researchers have discovered a new deformation mechanism with these twin crystal boundaries, which could help engineers figure out how to use CTBs to tune the properties of some materials more precisely.

As the researchers report in a paper in Nature Communications, it turns out that, contrary to expectations, a material's crystal grains can sometimes slide along CTBs. The researchers comprise: Ming Dao, a principal research scientist in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Subra Suresh, professor of engineering and president-designate of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore; Ju Li, professor in MIT's Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering; and seven others at MIT and elsewhere.

While each crystal grain is made up of an orderly three-dimensional array of atoms in a lattice structure, CTBs are places where, on the two sides of a boundary, the lattice forms a mirror-image of the structure on the other side. Every atom on either side of the coherent twin boundary is exactly matched by an atom in a mirror-symmetrical location on the other side. Much research in recent years has shown that lattices that incorporate nanoscale CTBs can have much greater strength than the same material with random grain boundaries, without losing another useful property called ductility, which describes a material's ability to be stretched.

Some previous research suggested that these twin crystal boundaries are incapable of sliding due to the limited number of defects. Indeed, no experimental observations of such sliding have been reported before at room temperature. Now, a combination of theoretical analysis and experimental work has shown that in fact, under certain kinds of loads, these grains can slide along the boundary. Understanding this property will be important for developing ways to engineer material properties to optimize them for specific applications, Dao says.

"A lot of high-strength nanocrystalline materials [with grains sizes measuring less than 100nm] have low ductility and fatigue properties, and failure grows quite quickly with little stretching," he says. Conversely, in metals that incorporate CTBs, that "enhances the strength and preserves the good ductility".

Understanding how these materials behave when subjected to various mechanical stresses is important for being able to harness them for structural uses. For one thing, it means that the way the material deforms is quite uneven: distortions in the direction of the planes of the CTBs can happen much more readily than in other directions.

The researchers conducted their experiment with copper, but the results should apply to some other metals with similar crystal structures, such as gold, silver and platinum. These materials are widely used in electronic devices, Dao says. "If you design these materials" with structures in the size range explored in this work, which involves features smaller than a few hundred nanometers across, "you need to be aware of these kinds of deformation modes."

The sliding, once understood, can be used to gain significant advantages. For example, researchers could design extremely strong nanostructures based on the known orientation dependence. Alternatively, by knowing the type and direction of force that's required to initiate the sliding, it might be possible to design a device that could be activated, such as an alarm, in response to a specific level of stress.

"This study confirmed CTB sliding, which was previously considered impossible, and its particular driving conditions," says Zhiwei Shan, a senior co-author and dean of the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Xi'an Jiao Tong University in China. "Many things could become possible when previously unknown activation or enabling conditions are discovered."

"This work has identified through both systematic experiments and analysis the occurrence of an important mechanical characteristic which is found only in certain special types of interfaces and at the nanoscale. Given that this phenomenon can potentially be applicable to a broad range of crystalline materials, one can envision new materials design approaches involving nanostructures to optimize a variety of mechanical and functional characteristics," says Suresh.

"This discovery could fundamentally change our understanding of plastic deformation in nanotwinned metals and should be of broad interest to the material research community," comments Huajian Gao, professor of engineering at Brown University. "CTBs are key to engineering novel nanotwinned materials with superior mechanical and physical properties such as strength, ductility, toughness, electrical conductivity and thermal stability. This paper significantly advances our knowledge in this field by revealing large-scale sliding of CTBs."

This story is adapted from material from MIT, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.

Euro PM2018 call for papers
https://www.materialstoday.com/amorphous/news/euro-pm2018-call-for-papers/

The EPMA has issues a call for papers for Euro PM2018, taking place in Bilbao, Spain, from 14–18 October 2018.

Abstracts can be submitted online between Wednesday 1 November 2017 and Wednesday 24 January 2018 only via the event website.

The Euro PM2018 Congress and Exhibition will cover:

  • Additive manufacturing
  • Core PM
  • Hard materials and diamond tools
  • Hot isostatic pressing
  • New materials and applications
  • Powder injection molding
  • PM structural parts.

The EPMA will also present the prestigious EPMA 2018 Powder Metallurgy Component Awards. These now biennial awards are open to all EPMA members who manufacture components made by the following PM processes:

  • Additive manufacturing
  • Hot isostatic pressing
  • Metal injection molding
  • PM structural (including hard materials and diamond tools).

More information can be found here.

The EPMA is also running the EPMA PM Thesis Competition 2018, which is open to all graduates of a European university whose theses have been officially accepted or approved by the applicant’s teaching establishment during the previous three years. Theses, which must be classified under the topic of powder metallurgy, are judged by an international panel of PM experts, drawn from both academia and industry. Winners are awarded an honorarium and complimentary registration to the congress. More information can be found here.

 

This story is reprinted from material from the EPMAwith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.

Revolution Composites expands manufacturing facility
https://www.materialstoday.com/carbon-fiber/news/revolution-composites-expands-manufacturing/

Revolution Composites has expanded its manufacturing facility in Norwood, Massachusetts, USA. The 10,000 ft2 addition reportedly provides room for future growth.

‘The additional space is long overdue,’ said David Dahlheimer, director of manufacturing and one of the founders of Revolution Composites.  ’The expansion is in direct response to increased demand for braid/RTM hardware and our anticipated business growth over the next 2-3 years.’

Revolution Composites specializes in the braiding and molding of carbon, glass, aramid, and ceramic fibers for the aerospace and defense industries. It supplies production flight hardware and development services to multiple OEMs and Tier 1/2 suppliers.

This story is reprinted from material from Revolution Compositeswith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.

Revolution Composites expands manufacturing facility
https://www.materialstoday.com/carbon-fiber/news/revolution-composites-expands-manufacturing-1/

Revolution Composites has expanded its manufacturing facility in Norwood, Massachusetts, USA. The 10,000 ft2 addition reportedly provides room for future growth.

‘The additional space is long overdue,’ said David Dahlheimer, director of manufacturing and one of the founders of Revolution Composites.  ’The expansion is in direct response to increased demand for braid/RTM hardware and our anticipated business growth over the next 2-3 years.’

Revolution Composites specializes in the braiding and molding of carbon, glass, aramid, and ceramic fibers for the aerospace and defense industries. It supplies production flight hardware and development services to multiple OEMs and Tier 1/2 suppliers.

This story is reprinted from material from Revolution Compositeswith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.

Solvay JV to supply composites to Boeing
https://www.materialstoday.com/carbon-fiber/news/solvay-jv-to-supply-composites-to-boeing/

Chemicals company Solvay and Strata, a composite aerostructures manufacturing facility, have formalized their joint venture (JV) to supply Boeing with composite materials from a facility to be built in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The JV will reportedly be the UAE’s first supplier of prepreg carbon fibers. The new approximately 8,500 m2 facility will supply Boeing with carbon fiber prepreg for primary structure applications in its new 777X program. Solvay’s prepreg technology consists of fiber reinforcements pre-impregnated with a resin matrix to make composite parts. 

The partnership marks Solvay’s entry into materials manufacturing in the UAE.

‘This joint venture showcases Solvay’s capabilities in advanced aerospace composite technologies, including for aircraft primary structures as a growth pillar for our materials business,’ said Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, CEO of Solvay. 

This story is reprinted from material from Solvaywith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.

Advanced engineering show shows increase in attendance
https://www.materialstoday.com/carbon-fiber/news/advanced-engineering-show-shows-increase-/

Attendance for the Advanced Engineering show was up 15%.
Attendance for the Advanced Engineering show was up 15%.

Attendance for the Advanced Engineering show which took place recently in Birmingham, UK, was up 15%, according to its organizers.

Stall holders included Airbus, Boeing, Jaguar Land Rover, Hexcel, and Dassault Systèmes, with visitors from a range of engineering specialisms including automation, design & test engineering, process control and machining.

Products on show included a hydrogen powered car, aircraft landing gear, a battery made 100% from recycled materials, a ground based test rig for electric contra rotating propulsion, and a Libralato hybrid engine.

‘This year, the Performance Metals Engineering zone was outstanding,’ said Alison Willis, industrial divisional director at Easyfairs, organisers of the show. ‘And now, we are looking to even more areas of expansion for Advanced Engineering, with the addition of our new Nuclear Engineering zone, addressing nuclear energy build, operation and supply chain.’

Next year’s show takes place from 31 October-1 November 2018.

This story is reprinted from material from Advanced Engineeringwith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.

Plastic MOF for printing inexpensive sensors and fuel cell batteries
https://www.materialstoday.com/additive-manufacturing/news/plastic-mof-for-printing-sensors/

A marriage between 3D printer plastic and a versatile material for detecting and storing gases could lead to inexpensive sensors and fuel cell batteries, suggests new research from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The versatile material is a metal-organic framework (MOF); these materials are easy to make, cost little, and some are good at picking out a particular gas from the air. Seen on a microscopic level, MOFs look like buildings under construction – think of steel girders with space between them. A particular MOF talent is allowing fluids to flow through their spaces while their girders attract some specific part of the fluid and hold onto it as the rest of the fluid flows past. MOFs are already promising candidates for refining petroleum and other hydrocarbons.

MOFs have caught the attention of a team of scientists from NIST and American University because they could also form the basis for an inexpensive sensing technology. For example, certain MOFs are good at filtering out methane or carbon dioxide, both of which are greenhouse gases. The problem is that newly made MOFs are tiny particles that in bulk have the consistency of dust. And it's hard to build a usable sensor from a material that slips through your fingers.

To address this problem, the team decided to try mixing MOFs into the plastic used with 3D printers. Not only could the resultant plastic material be molded into any shape the team desired, but it’s also permeable enough to allow gases to pass right through it, meaning the MOFs could snag the specific gas molecules the team wants to detect. But would MOFs work in the mix?

"The goal is to find a storage method that can hold 4.5% hydrogen by weight, and we've got a bit less than 1% now. But from a materials perspective, we don't need to make that dramatic an improvement to reach the goal. So we see the glass or the plastic as half full already."Zeeshan Ahmed, NIST

In a paper in Polymers for Advanced Technologies, the researchers show that the idea has promise not only for sensing but for other applications as well. They demonstrate that the MOFs and the plastic get along well; for example, the MOFs don't settle to the bottom of the plastic when it's melted, but stay evenly distributed in the mixture. The team then mixed in a specific MOF that's good at capturing hydrogen gas and conducted testing to see how well the solidified mixture could store hydrogen.

"The auto industry is still looking for an inexpensive, lightweight way to store fuel in hydrogen-powered cars," said NIST sensor scientist Zeeshan Ahmed. "We're hoping that MOFs in plastic might form the basis of the fuel tank."

The paper also shows that when exposed to hydrogen gas, the solid mix retains more than 50 times more hydrogen than plastic alone, indicating that the MOFs are still functioning effectively while inside the plastic. These are promising results, but not yet good enough for a fuel cell.

Ahmed said his team members are optimistic the idea can be improved enough to be practical. They have already built on their initial research in a second, forthcoming paper, which explores how well two other MOFs can absorb nitrogen gas as well as hydrogen, and also shows how to make the MOF-plastic mixtures immune to the degrading effects of humidity. The team is now pursuing collaborations with other NIST research groups to develop MOF-based sensors.

"The goal is to find a storage method that can hold 4.5% hydrogen by weight, and we've got a bit less than 1% now," Ahmed said. "But from a materials perspective, we don't need to make that dramatic an improvement to reach the goal. So we see the glass – or the plastic – as half full already."

This story is adapted from material from NIST, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.

Novel honeycomb material leads way to quantum spin liquid
https://www.materialstoday.com/materials-chemistry/news/honeycomb-material-quantum-spin-liquid/

Scientists from Boston College and Harvard University have created a first-of-its-kind copper iridate metal oxide, in which the natural magnetic order is disrupted, by conducting a copper exchange reaction with sodium iridate. Image: Boston College.
Scientists from Boston College and Harvard University have created a first-of-its-kind copper iridate metal oxide, in which the natural magnetic order is disrupted, by conducting a copper exchange reaction with sodium iridate. Image: Boston College.

Researchers from Boston College and Harvard University have created an elusive honeycomb-structured material capable of frustrating the magnetic properties within it in order to produce a chemical entity known as a ‘spin liquid’. According to a paper on this work in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, this entity has long been theorized as a gateway to the free-flowing properties of quantum computing.

The honeycomb-structured material is a first-of-its-kind copper iridate metal oxide – Cu2IrO3 – in which the natural magnetic order is disrupted, a state known as geometric frustration, said Fazel Tafti, an assistant professor of physics at Boston College and lead author of the paper.

The copper iridate is an insulator – its electrons are immobilized in the solid – but they can still transport a magnetic moment known as ‘spin’. The transport of free spins in the material allows for a flow of quantum information.

The Kitaev model, proposed in 2006 by Alexei Kitaev at Caltech, predicted that a hexagonal honeycomb structure offered a promising route to geometric frustration and, therefore, to a quantum spin liquid. Up to now, only two honeycomb lattices have been developed in an attempt to fulfill Kitaev's model: a lithium iridate (Li2IrO3) and a sodium iridate (Na2IrO3). Yet both fell short of achieving an ideal spin liquid due to magnetic ordering.

To develop their honeycomb lattice, Tafti and his team turned to copper due to its ideal atomic size, which is between lithium and sodium. Using x-ray crystallography, they found subtle flaws in the honeycombs formed by the lithium and sodium iridates, and so they swapped copper for sodium in what Tafti termed a relatively simple ‘exchange’ reaction. This effort produced the first oxide of copper and iridium.

"Copper is ideally suited to the honeycomb structure," explained Tafti. "There is almost no distortion in the honeycomb structure."

A decade after the original prediction of quantum spin liquid on a honeycomb lattice by Kitaev, Tafti and his colleagues have succeeded in making a material that almost exactly corresponds to the Kitaev model. Tafti's lab will now pursue the ‘exchange’ chemistry path to make new forms of honeycomb materials with more exotic magnetic properties, he said.

This story is adapted from material from Boston College, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.

Carbon nanotube fibers make lightweight antennas
https://www.materialstoday.com/carbon/news/carbon-nanotube-fibers-make-lightweight-antennas/

Rice University graduate student Amram Bengio prepares a sample nanotube fiber antenna for evaluation. The fibers had to be isolated in Styrofoam mounts to assure accurate comparisons with each other and with copper. Photo: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University.
Rice University graduate student Amram Bengio prepares a sample nanotube fiber antenna for evaluation. The fibers had to be isolated in Styrofoam mounts to assure accurate comparisons with each other and with copper. Photo: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University.

Fibers made of carbon nanotubes configured as wireless antennas work as well as copper antennas but are 20 times lighter, according to researchers at Rice University. These antennas may offer practical advantages for aerospace applications and wearable electronics where weight and flexibility are factors. The research is reported in a paper in Applied Physics Letters.

The discovery offers more potential applications for the strong, lightweight nanotube fibers developed by the Rice lab of chemist and chemical engineer Matteo Pasquali. His lab developed the first practical method for making high-conductivity carbon nanotube fibers in 2013 and has since tested them for use as brain implants and in heart surgeries, among other applications.

This research could help engineers who seek to streamline materials for airplanes and spacecraft, where weight equals cost. Increased interest in wearables like wrist-worn health monitors and clothing with embedded electronics could also benefit from strong, flexible and conductive fiber antennas that send and receive signals, Pasquali said.

The Rice team, together with colleagues at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), developed a metric they called ‘specific radiation efficiency’ to judge how well the nanotube fibers radiated signals at the common wireless communication frequencies of 1 gigahertz and 2.4 gigahertz, comparing their results with standard copper antennas. They made threads comprising from eight to 128 fibers that are about as thin as a human hair, cut them to the same length and then tested them on a custom rig that made straightforward comparisons with copper practical.

"Antennas typically have a specific shape, and you have to design them very carefully," said Rice graduate student Amram Bengio, the paper's lead author. "Once they're in that shape, you want them to stay that way. So one of the first experimental challenges was getting our flexible material to stay put."

Contrary to earlier results by other labs (which used different carbon nanotube fiber sources), the Rice researchers found that their fiber antennas matched copper for radiation efficiency at the same frequencies and diameters. Their results provide support for theories predicting that the performance of nanotube antennas scale with the density and conductivity of the fiber.

"Not only did we find that we got the same performance as copper for the same diameter and cross-sectional area, but once we took the weight into account, we found we're basically doing this for 1/20th the weight of copper wire," Bengio said. "Applications for this material are a big selling point, but from a scientific perspective, at these frequencies carbon nanotube macro-materials behave like a typical conductor."

Even fibers considered ‘moderately conductive’ showed superior performance. Although manufacturers could simply use thinner copper wires instead of the 30-gauge wires they currently use, those wires would be very fragile and difficult to handle, Pasquali said.

"Amram showed that if you do three things right – make the right fibers, fabricate the antenna correctly and design the antenna according to telecommunication protocols – then you get antennas that work fine," he said. "As you go to very thin antennas at high frequencies, you get less of a disadvantage compared with copper because copper becomes difficult to handle at thin gauges, whereas nanotubes, with their textile-like behavior, hold up pretty well."

This story is adapted from material from Rice University, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.

Nanoparticles shine new light on inflammatory disease
https://www.materialstoday.com/biomaterials/news/nps-shine-new-light-on-inflammatory-disease/

Design of a myeloperoxidase (MPO)-responsive, biodegradable, and luminescent material and nanoparticle based on functionalized cyclodextrin.
Design of a myeloperoxidase (MPO)-responsive, biodegradable, and luminescent material and nanoparticle based on functionalized cyclodextrin.

Nanoparticles made from a luminescent, biodegradable material could enable inflammatory diseases to be imaged in real-time, according to researchers [Guo et al., Materials Today (2017), doi: 10.1016/j.mattod.2017.09.003].

Inflammation is a key feature of disorders such as diabetes and is implicated in many other diseases from arthritis to cardiovascular disease to cancer. A type of white blood cells known as neutrophils play a central role in the body’s inflammatory response and initiate chronic inflammatory diseases. The ability to detect, track, and quantify neutrophils in the body could provide a much-needed boost to the diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory diseases.

Researchers from the Third Military Medical University and Zhejiang University in China, and the University of Chicago think they may have come up with a way to do just that in the form of nanoparticles derived from ring-shaped sugar molecules (cyclodextrin) functionalized with a luminol, a small luminescent molecular probe.

The functionalized cyclodextrin nanoparticles are responsive to an enzyme expressed by neutrophils called myeloperoxidase or MPO. In cell culture tests using neutrophils derived from mice showing an inflammatory response, the nanoparticles show strong and sustained luminescence.

Similarly, when administered to mice with various inflammatory conditions, the nanoparticle probe showed strong, stable and prolonged luminescence when triggered by the tell tale biochemical markers of inflammation, elevated levels of MPO and reactive oxygen species.

Not only does the approach allow neutrophils to be imaged in real-time, the intensity of the luminescent signal can also be correlated with the actual amount of neutrophils.

“The nanoprobe shows desirable luminescence for the detection of different inflammatory disorders in both superficial and deep tissues, enabling noninvasive and real-time imaging of inflammation-associated diseases,” says Jianxiang Zhang. “As activated neutrophils in different inflammatory disorders can be selectively imaged using the nanoprobe, the initiation, progression, and resolution of inflammation can be detected.”

Tests of the safety and biocompatibility of the MPO-responsive material threw up no issues, according to the researchers, either in its native or nanoparticle form. More importantly, the MPO-responsive material can be completely broken down into smaller biochemical molecules in the body and excreted.

The team now plans to evaluate how the nanoprobe works with chronic inflammatory disorders such as pulmonary disease, cancer, and atherosclerosis.

“We will also explore strategies that can enhance tissue penetration capability and inflammation targeting capacity in future studies,” Zhang told Materials Today.

The MPO-responsive nanoparticles could also be used to deliver therapeutics or contrast agents or screen for new anti-inflammatory agents, he adds.

Arcam at 3D printing show
https://www.materialstoday.com/additive-manufacturing/news/arcam-at-3d-printing-show/

Additive manufacturing (AM) specialist Arcam has exhibited a range of its 3D printing products at Formnext 2017, taking place in Frankfurt, Germany.

This includes EBMobile, an app for the remote monitoring of electron beam melting (EBM) machines, which gives the user information regarding the status of their EBM machine while gathering and analyzing statistical data, in order to obtain an overview of ongoing processes in EBM machines in real time.

This story is reprinted from material from Arcamwith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.

Turkish project focuses on 3D printed composites
https://www.materialstoday.com/amorphous/news/turkish-project-focuses-on-3d-printed-composites/

The project will be run in the Composite Technologies Center of Excellence.
The project will be run in the Composite Technologies Center of Excellence.

Composites company Kordsa and Sabanci University, based in Turkey, have joined together to form the Directional Composites Through Manufacturing Innovation (DiCoMi) project.

The project will be run in the Composite Technologies Center of Excellence, established by Kordsa and Sabanci University. The project will be funded by €3 million from the European Union and will be run by a joint consortium including Kordsa and Sabanci University.

The two-year DiCoMi project will focus on system, software and material development in order to produce composite materials with 3D printing. 

This story is reprinted from material from Kordsawith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.

Registration open for 2018 MIM conference
https://www.materialstoday.com/molding-and-pressing/news/registration-open-for-2018-mim-conference/

The Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF) has announced that registration has opened for MIM2018, the international conference on injection molding of metals, ceramics and carbides.

The conference takes place from 5–7 March 2018 in Irvine, California, USA and is a global conference and tabletop exhibition that highlights advances in the powder injection molding (PIM) industry. The keynote speaker, Benedikt Blitz, from SMR Premium, will present an ‘Update on Forged Special Steels, Remelting and Powder Metallurgy’.

Conference highlights include a tour of molding machine manufacturer ARBURG and the annual PIM Tutorial presented by industry veteran Randall M. German.

‘The annual MIM conference is an excellent place for product designers, engineers, consumers, students, and more, to network and broaden their industry knowledge,’ said Jim Adams, executive director/CEO, MPIF.

In 2017, conference attendees consisted of 24% equipment and service providers, 21% powder and feedstock suppliers, 20% consumers, 23% parts manufacturers and 13% other, and a similar attendance base is expected in 2018. 

This story is reprinted from material from the MPIFwith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.