What's New


Smart Contact Lens Detects Diabetes and Glaucoma
IEEE Spectrum - May 2017

"While tech giant Google continues to struggle to make a contact lens for monitoring diabetes, researchers at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea have offered up at least one part of the puzzle: better wearability. Through the use of a hybrid film made from graphene and silver nanowires, the UNIST researchers have made contact lenses for detecting multiple biomarkers that are clear and flexible."

Read more at IEEE Spectrum


2D Materials Go Ferromagnetic, Creating a New Scientific Field
IEEE Spectrum - April 2017

"Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have successfully demonstrated that two-dimensional (2D) layered crystals held together by van der Waal forces—these include graphene and molybdenum disulfide—can exhibit intrinsic ferromagnetism. Not only did the team demonstrate that it exists in these materials, but the researchers also demonstrated a high degree of control over that ferromagnetism. The discovery could have a profound impact for applications including magnetic sensors and the developing use of spintronics for encoding information."

Read more at IEEE Spectrum


Smart Materials and Technologies for Next Generation Energy-Efficient Buildings
IEEE Smart Grid Newsletter - April 2017

In the face of increasing human population around the world, it is likely that the global energy demand is doubled by the year 2050. Globally, reducing greenhouse gases and increasing energy efficiency in the household sector is the reason for developing and testing new solutions in private and public buildings, based on the Information and Communication Technologies. A great deal of groundwork has been done, and is still in motion to develop and implement energy-efficient technologies to meet the users’ increased energy needs.

Read more at IEEE Smart Grid


Robotics, Smart Materials, and Their Future Impact for Humans
OpenMind - April 2017

"We are now at the cusp of a new technological shift of equal significance: the Robotics Revolution. This revolution will place the twenty-first century at a pivotal position in history. More importantly it will irrevocably impact on all our lives and the lives of future generations."

Read more at OpenMind


Graphene Sieve Turns Seawater into Drinking Water
University of Manchester - April 2017

"Graphene-oxide membranes have attracted considerable attention as promising candidates for new filtration technologies. Now the much sought-after development of making membranes capable of sieving common salts has been achieved.

New research demonstrates the real-world potential of providing clean drinking water for millions of people who struggle to access adequate clean water sources."

Read more at University of Manchester


This Self-Poofing Fabric Transforms From T-Shirt to Parka
IEEE Spectrum - March 2017

"A small team at Otherlab, which does all kinds of weird things, has been using ARPA-E funding to develop what they're calling "thermally adaptive materials." We'll call it self-poofing fabric, for its ability to dynamically change its insulation in response to temperature. The idea is that the fabric will provide a small amount of insulation when it's warm out, and then increase how insulating it is (by trapping more air) in response to colder temperatures. When you see the prototype fabric in action, it looks like magic."

Read more at IEEE Spectrum


Washable Heartbeat Sensors Can Now Be Embroidered Onto Clothing
Popular Science - March 2017

"Embroidery is usually used to adorn fabric with festive designs, but it can now be used to measure heart rates too.

In a new study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, researchers unveiled a fiber optic material that can be produced quickly and then woven, knit, or embroidered into existing fabrics, forming flexible, wearable sensors that seamlessly integrate into clothes."

Read more at Popular Science


These Smart Glasses Automatically Adjust to Your Eyes
IEEE Spectrum - February 2017

"Imagine glasses that could bring everything into focus, shifting prescriptions from near to farsighted and back again in moments. It’s not possible with today’s glass lenses, but a breakthrough in what are called liquid lenses could make smart glasses that do exactly that. They could put an end to bifocals, and you’d only ever need that one pair of adjustable spectacles for the rest of your life."

Read more at IEEE Spectrum


Borophene Takes Big Step Towards Electronic Devices
IEEE Spectrum - February 2017

"In research described in the journal Science Advances, Hersam’s team has for the first time combined borophene with another material to create a heterostructure, which is a fundamental building block for electronic devices. Since this work represents the first demonstration of a borophene-based heterostructure, the researchers believe that it will guide future and ongoing research into using borophene for nanoelectronic applications."

Read more at IEEE Spectrum


Stretchable Material Could Boost Electronic Devices
Research & Development Magazine - February 2017

"A stretchable integrated circuit made entirely using an inkjet printer could lead to new advancements for producing smart fabrics.

Engineers at Michigan State University have developed the integrated circuit—the first of its kind—that has elastic-like tendencies that can help mass produce new materials for smart phones and tablets."

Read more at Research & Development Magazine


Heat-Sensitive Skin Could Let Prosthetics Feel Warmth
IEEE Spectrum - February 2017

"Many research groups around the world are developing flexible electronic skin for prosthetic limbs that can help replicate the sensory capabilities of real skin. When it comes to temperature, existing flexible sensors recognize changes of less than one-tenth of a degree C, but only within temperature ranges of less than 5 degrees C. Other flexible devices can work in wider temperature ranges, but are many times less sensitive.

Now scientists have developed an electronic skin that is sensitive to changes as little as one-hundredth of a degree C over a 45-degree range, from 5 °C to 50 °C. This sensitivity is comparable to that of pit vipers such as rattlesnakes, the researchers say. In comparison, human skin is only sensitive to changes of about two-hundredths of a degree C, the scientists add."

Read more at IEEE Spectrum


Scientists Turn Graphene Into Working OLED Electrodes, a First
UPI - January 2017

"For the first time, scientists have fashioned working OLED electrodes out of graphene. The breakthrough could pave the way for a variety of smart material applications.

Already, scientists have integrated the new OLEDs into touch-screen displays, like those used in smartphones."

Read more at UPI


Graphene and Silly Putty Creates a Super-Sensitive Strain Sensor
IEEE Spectrum - December 2016

"For all the talk and research that has gone into exploiting graphene’s pliant properties for use in wearable and flexible electronics, most of the polymer composites it has been mixed with to date have been on the hard and inflexible side.

It took a team of researchers in Ireland to combine graphene with the children’s toy Silly Putty to set the nanomaterial community ablaze with excitement. The combination makes a new composite that promises to make a super-sensitive strain sensor with potential medical diagnostic applications."

Read more at IEEE Spectrum


The Beginner's Guide to Smart Materials
T3 - October 2016

"If science is cool and inventing new 'stuff' even better, then fusing technology and materials to make 'smart textiles' is a growth area that is seeing a real spike in interest from budding innovators around the globe. In fact, such is the interest level in this area of the tech spectrum that there are now numerous courses to be found at universities in an array of countries that'll give you hands-on experience of emerging materials."

Read more at T3


6 New Plastic For Cars, Electronics & Medical Devices
Design News - August 2016

"This is a smaller crop of new plastics than last time, and also a more focused one. They're nearly all aimed at cars, electronics, and electrical components, plus medical devices, medical tool sterilization and cleaning, or pharmaceutical production.

One of them isn’t actually new, but it's making possible a revolutionary application. That's the all-plastic Polimotor 2 race engine being built by legendary automotive innovator Matti Holtzberg, which we've told you about. Solvay is a leading materials sponsor for the project, and up to 10 of the engine's parts will be made of its materials."

Read more at Design News


Energy Harvesting via Smart Materials
Energy Harvesting Journal - February 2016

"A group of smart materials known as "electrostrictive polymers" have been explored for years by researchers at France's National Institute of Applied Sciences of Lyon (INSA de Lyon) for their potential mechanical energy harvesting abilities. Now, the group reports that introducing a plasticizer into these materials offers an efficient way to improve their mechanical energy harvesting performance."

Read more at Energy Harvesting Journal


Ultrasound Could Transform 3D Printing for a Future of Smart Materials
The Conversation - January 2016

"The advent of 3D printers supposedly means we can manufacture anything in our homes. But in reality most existing home 3D printers can only make things out of certain plastics, although there are industrial systems that can print certain metals."

Read more at The Conversation


Graphene Paper Transforms Into Tiny Origami Robots
IEEE Spectrum - November 2015

"A tiny sheet of graphene “paper” smaller than a human fingernail can behave like an origami robot that folds and walks on command. The inspired work by Chinese researchers could pave the way for such self-folding devices as tiny robots and artificial muscles, or even help with biological tissue engineering on the smallest scales."

Read more at IEEE Spectrum