Many biological molecules and common surfaces carry an electrical charge. For example, DNA has a strong negative charge, and so does an amorphous form of silicon dioxide known as silica, the material most people recognize as “glass.” A charged molecule or surface, along with the electrically compensating layer of ions in the adjacent solution, is known as the electrical double layer (EDL).
The emerging field of soft robotics requires mechanical components that grasp objects with the same delicacy as human hands. At present, most soft robots are powered by hard, sometimes bulky, actuators such as a servo motor, air compressor or hydraulic pump. However a new class of polymers, called “liquid crystal elastomers,” may eventually find use as soft artificial muscles.
The understanding of surface reconstructions has become essential as scientists seek to develop materials with tailored properties. For instance, researchers over the past few years have been searching for a process to mass-produce circuits using a material called graphene – a one-atom-thick layer of graphite – which displays unique electronic properties.
In huge tunnels below the Swiss-Franco border, the European Organization for Nuclear Research's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is operating at half of its peak energy goal of 14 TeV or 'teraelectronvolts.' With the assistance of detectors built into the collider, physicists are searching for answers to questions about the birth of the universe, the existence of alternate dimensions and other key f
The overarching driver for the development of fuel-cell power is its potential to provide clean, highly efficient power generation. A fuel cell produces electricity from fuel (on the anode side) and an oxidant (on the cathode side), which react in the presence of electrolytes, substances containing free ions that make the substance electrically conductive.
Over time, the properties of polymer materials slowly change through a process known as aging. Aging can cause changes in volume, which may lead to cracks in a material, and alter mechanical properties, making it more brittle. Thus, aging can seriously impact the performance of polymer products used in a wide range of applications.