hot nickel ball & tinfoil gif clip experiment image

Everyone’s favorite Red Hot Nickel Ball has tackled challenges from Nokia phones to jawbreakers. Now, for Christmas, the glowing sphere of destruction is giving a warm, holiday hug to a bowl of flame-retardant tinsel. Flame-retardant maybe, but certainly not Red Hot Nickel Ball-proof.

I cannot tell you what that smoke smells like or is made of but it looks pretty nice if you don’t think about how toxic it probably is. Have a very merry Christmas up-wind!

Source: carsandwater


Henry Sapiecha

Chinese scientists have developed a new foam-like ‘super material’ image

Chinese scientists have developed a new foam-like ‘super material’ that is – to use a simile – as light as a balloon yet as strong as metal.

The foam-like material was created when tiny tubes of graphene were formed into a cellular structure which boasted of the same stability as a diamond.

Graphene has attracted great interest among researchers in recent years. And this was what led the researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Shanghai Institute of Ceramics to develop the new material.

About 207 times stronger than steel by weight and able to conduct heat and electricity with very high efficiency, the new foam-like material is been designed to support something 40,000 times its own weight without bending, reports science journal, Advanced Materials.

The researchers contend that one piece of the graphene foam can easily withstand the impact of a blow that has a force of more than 14,500 pounds per square inch – almost as much pressure experienced at the world’s deepest depth in the Pacific ocean known as Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench.

It is for this reason that the Shanghai research team said their newly created material could withstand more external shocks than other previously reported graphene materials.

It could also be squashed to just 5 per cent of its original size and still return to its original shape, and remained intact after the process was repeated 1,000 times.

Primarily destined for military applications, the properties of the novel material implies that it could be used as a cushion under the surface of bulletproof vests or on the outside of tanks to absorb the shocks from incoming projectiles, the Shanghai study said.


Henry Sapiecha


Boeing has unveiled a new synthetic metal called the microlattice, a material that’s being hailed as the lightest metal ever made.

Microlattice is a nickel-phosphorus alloy coated onto an open polymer structure. The polymer when removed, leaves a structure consisting of 100 nanometer thick walls of nickel-phosphorus, thus being 99.99% air.

While the structure of microlattice is strong, it is so light that it can be balanced on top of a dandelion. It is about 100 times lighter than Styrofoam and could well be the key component in the future of aeronautical design.

Microlattice’s design is influenced by the human bone structure. It has a 3D open-cellular polymer structure consisting of interconnected hollow tubes, each tube with a wall about 1000 times lighter than human hair.

This arrangement makes the metal extremely light and very hard to crush. Additionally, microlattice’s ultra-low density gives it a unique mechanical behavior, in that it can recover completely from compressions exceeding 50% strain and absorb high amounts of energy.

Sophia Yang, Research Scientist of Architected Materials at HRL Labs who worked with Boeing on the project stated: “One of the main applications that we’ve been looking into is structural components in aerospace.”

Although direct applications for microlattice have not been settled yet, Boeing is looking to use it in structural reinforcement for airplanes – which could reduce the weight of the aircraft significantly and improve fuel efficiency.

Video and image courtesy of Boeing


Henry Sapiecha





Forget chocolate melting in your hands, try Gallium. Its a strange metal that has a melting point at 85 degrees (F). Pick up a solid piece of gallium and squeeze it in your hand for a few minutes. Soon, you’ll have a liquid puddle of metal jiggling in your hand. Scientists love to show off experiments with Gallium. Set a drop on an aluminum can and watch it slowly turn the aluminum into brittle tissue paper. Set the stuff in sulfuric acid and you’ll see it start beating like a heart. Dmitri Mendeleyev first predicted Gallium and placed it in the Period Table before it was officially discovered in 1875.
Henry Sapiecha

Scientists left baffled

as the official kilo loses weight

January 24, 2011 – 10:36AM
A computer-generated image of the international prototype kilogram, which is kept in a vault at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures near Paris.A computer-generated image of the international prototype kilogram, which is kept in a vault at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures near Paris.

Scientists say they are moving closer to coming up with a non-physical definition of the kilo after discovering the metal artefact used as the international standard had shed a fraction of its weight.

Researchers caution there is still some way to go before their mission is complete, but if successful it would lead to the end of the useful life of the last manufactured object on which fundamental units of measure depend.

At the moment, the international standard for the kilo is a chunk of metal, under triple lock-and-key in France since 1889.

But scientists became concerned about the cylinder of platinum and iridium housed at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Sevres, near Paris, after discovering it had mysteriously lost a minute amount of weight.

Experts at the institute revealed in 2007 that the metal chunk is 50 micrograms lighter than the average of several dozen copies, meaning it had lost the equivalent of a small grain of sand.

They are now searching for a non-physical way of defining the kilo, which would bring it in line with the six other base units that make up the International System of Units

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Ultra-Simple Method for Creating

Nanoscale Gold Coatings Developed

Researchers at Rensselaer have developed a new, ultra-simple method for making layers of gold that measure only billionths of a meter thick. As seen in the research image, drops of gold-infused toluene applied to a surface evaporate within a few minutes and leave behind a uniform layer of nanoscale gold. The process requires no sophisticated equipment, works on nearly any surface, takes only 10 minutes, and could have important implications for nanoelectronics and semiconductor manufacturing. (Credit: Image courtesy of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

Gold plated porche.Munich show.

Science (June 21, 2010) — Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new, ultra-simple method for making layers of gold that measure only billionths of a meter thick. The process, which requires no sophisticated equipment and works on nearly any surface including silicon wafers, could have important implications for nanoelectronics and semiconductor manufacturing.

Sang-Kee Eah, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy at Rensselaer, and graduate student Matthew N. Martin infused liquid toluene — a common industrial solvent — with gold nanoparticles. The nanoparticles form a flat, closely packed layer of gold on the surface of the liquid where it meets air. By putting a droplet of this gold-infused liquid on a surface, and waiting for the toluene to evaporate, the researchers were able to successfully coat many different surfaces — including a 3-inch silicon wafer — with a monolayer of gold nanoparticles.

“There has been tremendous progress in recent years in the chemical syntheses of colloidal nanoparticles. However, fabricating a monolayer film of nanoparticles that is spatially uniform at all length scales — from nanometers to millimeters — still proves to be quite a challenge,” Eah said. “We hope our new ultra-simple method for creating monolayers will inspire the imagination of other scientists and engineers for ever-widening applications of gold nanoparticles.”

Results of the study, titled “Charged gold nanoparticles in non-polar solvents: 10-min synthesis and 2-D self-assembly,” were published recently in the journal Langmuir.

Whereas other synthesis methods take several hours, this new method chemically synthesizes gold nanoparticles in only 10 minutes without the need for any post-synthesis cleaning, Eah said. In addition, gold nanoparticles created this way have the special property of being charged on non-polar solvents for 2-D self-assembly.

Previously, the 2-D self-assembly of gold nanoparticles in a toluene droplet was reported with excess ligands, which slows down and complicates the self-assembly process. This required the non-volatile excess ligands to be removed in a vacuum. In contrast, Eah’s new method ensures that gold nanoparticles float to the surface of the toluene drop in less than one second, without the need for a vacuum. It then takes only a few minutes for the toluene droplet to evaporate and leave behind the gold monoloayer.

“The extension of this droplet 2-D self-assembly method to other kinds of nanoparticles, such as magnetic and semiconducting particles, is challenging but holds much potential,” Eah said. “Monolayer films of magnetic nanoparticles, for instance, are important for magnetic data storage applications. Our new method may be able to help inform new and exciting applications.”

Co-authors on the paper are former Rensselaer undergraduate researchers James I. Basham ’07, who is now a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University, and Paul Chando ’09, who will begin graduate study in the fall at the City College of New York.

The research project was supported by Rensselaer, the Rensselaer Summer Undergraduate Research Program, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates, and the NSF’s East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Watch a video demonstration of this new fabrication process at:

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

EcoWire™: A True Engineering Breakthrough
Tough wire doesn’t have to be bulky or hard to recycle. Innovative EcoWire combines increased performance with a minimized environmental impact. EcoWire’s unique mPPE insulation is inherently lighter, tougher, and more durable than PVC. Plus, it contains no halogens and meets WEEE requirements.

More Information

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 5th June 2010

Renewable Energy:

Inexpensive Metal Catalyst

Can Effectively Generate

Hydrogen from Water

Science (May 1, 2010) — Hydrogen would command a key role in future renewable energy technologies, experts agree, if a relatively cheap, efficient and carbon-neutral means of producing it can be developed. An important step towards this elusive goal has been taken by a team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, Berkeley. The team has discovered an inexpensive metal catalyst that can effectively generate hydrogen gas from water.

“Our new proton reduction catalyst is based on a molybdenum-oxo metal complex that is about 70 times cheaper than platinum, today’s most widely used metal catalyst for splitting the water molecule,” said Hemamala Karunadasa, one of the co-discoverers of this complex. “In addition, our catalyst does not require organic additives, and can operate in neutral water, even if it is dirty, and can operate in sea water, the most abundant source of hydrogen on earth and a natural electrolyte. These qualities make our catalyst ideal for renewable energy and sustainable chemistry.”

Karunadasa holds joint appointments with Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division and UC Berkeley’s Chemistry Department. She is the lead author of a paper describing this work that appears in the April 29, 2010 issue of the journal Nature, titled “A molecular molybdenum-oxo catalyst for generating hydrogen from water.” Co-authors of this paper were Christopher Chang and Jeffrey Long, who also hold joint appointments with Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley. Chang, in addition, is also an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

Hydrogen gas, whether combusted or used in fuel cells to generate electricity, emits only water vapor as an exhaust product, which is why this nation would already be rolling towards a hydrogen economy if only there were hydrogen wells to tap. However, hydrogen gas does not occur naturally and has to be produced. Most of the hydrogen gas in the United States today comes from natural gas, a fossil fuel. While inexpensive, this technique adds huge volumes of carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Hydrogen can also be produced through the electrolysis of water — using electricity to split molecules of water into molecules of hydrogen and oxygen. This is an environmentally clean and sustainable method of production — especially if the electricity is generated via a renewable technology such as solar or wind — but requires a water-splitting catalyst.

Nature has developed extremely efficient water-splitting enzymes — called hydrogenases — for use by plants during photosynthesis, however, these enzymes are highly unstable and easily deactivated when removed from their native environment. Human activities demand a stable metal catalyst that can operate under non-biological settings.

Metal catalysts are commercially available, but they are low valence precious metals whose high costs make their widespread use prohibitive. For example, platinum, the best of them, costs some $2,000 an ounce.

“The basic scientific challenge has been to create earth-abundant molecular systems that produce hydrogen from water with high catalytic activity and stability,” Chang says. “We believe our discovery of a molecular molybdenum-oxo catalyst for generating hydrogen from water without the use of additional acids or organic co-solvents establishes a new chemical paradigm for creating reduction catalysts that are highly active and robust in aqueous media.”

The molybdenum-oxo complex that Karunadasa, Chang and Long discovered is a high valence metal with the chemical name of (PY5Me2)Mo-oxo. In their studies, the research team found that this complex catalyzes the generation of hydrogen from neutral buffered water or even sea water with a turnover frequency of 2.4 moles of hydrogen per mole of catalyst per second.

Long says, “This metal-oxo complex represents a distinct molecular motif for reduction catalysis that has high activity and stability in water. We are now focused on modifying the PY5Me ligand portion of the complex and investigating other metal complexes based on similar ligand platforms to further facilitate electrical charge-driven as well as light-driven catalytic processes. Our particular emphasis is on chemistry relevant to sustainable energy cycles.”

This research was supported in part by the DOE Office of Science through Berkeley Lab’s Helios Solar Energy Research Center, and in part by a grant from the National science Foundation.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 2nd May 2010


Metal Conductive Rubber

Chemists Create Self-assembling

April 1, 2007 — Polymer chemists have created a flexible, indestructible material, called metal rubber, that can be heated, frozen, washed or doused with jet fuel, and still retain its electricity-conducting properties. To make metal rubber, chemists and engineers use a process called self-assembly. The material is repeatedly dipped into positively charged and negatively charged solutions. The positive and negative charges bond, forming layers that conduct electricity. Uses of metal rubber include bendy, electrically charged aircraft wings, artificial muscles and wearable computers.

Portable gadgets were meant to be taken on the move. Portable also means accidents and damage can happen. Now, imagine electronics that can take a beating and bounce back! It’s soon possible with a shocking new flexible, indestructible material, called metal rubber.

“You can heat it. You can freeze it. You can stretch it. You can douse it with jet fuel,” Jennifer Lalli, a polymer chemist at NanoSonic, Inc., in Blacksburg, Va., tells DBIS.

Abuse it, and metal rubber snaps back to its original shape. But the best part of this rubbery material? It conducts electricity just like metal and is also lightweight.

To make metal rubber, chemists and engineers use a process called self-assembly. The material is repeatedly dipped into positively charged and negatively charged solutions. The positive and negative charges bond, forming layers that conduct electricity.

“Electricity flows through metal rubber because there are little metal particles, and the electricity flows from little metal particle, to little metal particle, to little metal particle, between the two ends just like a piece of copper metal,” Rick Claus, a NanoSonic electrical engineer, tells DBIS.

The self-assembly process coats almost anything — even fabric can be made to carry electrical power. Lalli says you can wash the metal rubber textiles and they maintain electrical current.

Scientists are looking into uses of metal rubber like bendy, electrically charged aircraft wings and artificial muscles — and wearable computers. Abuse-resistant, flexible circuits, like cell phones, are still years away, but the future looks bright — and powerful — for bendable products.

BACKGROUND: Materials engineers and chemists at NanoSonic, Inc. have developed a way to produce lightweight electrically conductive textiles that won’t break or disintegrate when you wash or stretch them. This makes the textiles perfect for use in sensor-laden ‘smart clothes.’ An important component is the company’s trademarked metal rubber, a substance that has the elasticity of rubber and ability of steel to conduct electricity/ NanoSonic’s metal rubber and e-textiles could find use in protective clothing; flexible antennae and circuits; flexible displays; electromagnetic shielding; biomedical sensors and health monitoring; and applications in outer space.

HOW IT’S MADE: Instead of just mixing different materials together, like in a blender or weaving metal wire components into fabrics, NanoSonic’s manufacturing technique is a bit like ‘growing’ textiles in a makeshift washing machine. It’s called “electrostatic self-assembly.” By dipping the base material into baths of alternating electrons and protons, those nanoparticles with opposite charges attract and stick to each other like Velcro. So many different properties can be linked together without the material falling apart when it is washed or stretched. Each dip adds one layer. The e-textiles are lower in weight, with lower manufacturing costs and few byproducts, plus they can withstand repeated washings without falling apart.

EXAMPLES: In combat conditions, a US solder clothed in layers of garments made from e-textiles could wear sensors close to the skin that monitor blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate. Another layer could be integrated into the Kevlar vest to register impact from a bullet or shrapnel. And sensors in an outer garment could ‘sniff’ the air for toxic agents of chemical or biological warfare. It might also be possible to make a thicker but lightweight conductive fabric for electric power workers that would not limit their range of motion, but would reduce the effects of electric power line radiation.

ABOUT SELF-ASSEMBLY: There are two basic ways to manipulate matter. On the large scale, we pick things up with our hands and physically put them together. Nature uses self-assembly, assembling its structures molecule by tiny molecule. Spread out in a liquid, the miniature parts jostle about and come together in random configurations, gradually matching up through trial and error according to shape and electrical charges. It’s as if you shook a box holding the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and looked in to find the puzzle had assembled itself. Yet biological systems, as well as several inorganic physical systems, exhibit self-assembling or self-ordering behavior all the time.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 9th April 2010

Hard than diamonds??


Although diamond is currently the undisputed champion of ultrahard materials, research teams around the world are engaged in a battle to find a new contender to topple it from its place; one which is cheaper, more durable, and more easily produced. Once such team, lead by Professor Richard Kaner of UCLA, have targeted transition metal borides as their diamond-killer of choice. Ultrahard materials are useful in many industrial applications, as, for example, abrasives, cutting tools, and coatings. But diamond isn’t always the best tool for the job; the chemical reaction between carbon and iron means that it isn’t suitable for use with ferrous materials, and the high temperature and pressure necessary to produce synthetic diamond can make the manufacturing process prohibitively expensive. In contrast, the materials considered by Prof. Kaner, such as rhenium diboride and tungsten tetraboride, have comparable or greater hardness and stress resistance, but can be potentially be produced at ambient pressure and can be used in a great variety of chemical environments.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 3rd Nov 2009