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Articles on Materials science

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Most plastic products that are clear and strong are made using bisphenol A, or BPA. Beton Studio/iStock via Getty Images

What is BPA and why is it in so many plastic products?

The US Environmental Protection Agency is reexamining the health effects of bisphenol A. A chemist explains why BPA is in plastics and why it’s hard to find a safe replacement.
Nickel oxide, the gray-and-black-striped material, demonstrates unique properties when exposed to hydrogen. Purdue University/Kayla Wiles

Nickel oxide is a material that can ‘learn’ like animals and could help further artificial intelligence research

The ability to store information is central to learning and the field of artificial intelligence. Researchers have shown how a unique material shows basic learning properties similar to that of slugs.
The Curiosity Mars rover, launched in November 2011, is powered by a nuclear battery that relies on thermoelectric materials to turn heat from radioactive decay into electricity. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

A new approach finds materials that can turn waste heat into electricity

More than two-thirds of the world’s energy is wasted as heat. Thermoelectric materials can convert unwanted heat into electricity, but finding the best ones has been slow.
Research is finding better ways to make batteries both big and small. Romaset/Shutterstock.com

New materials are powering the battery revolution

Is it too much to dream of batteries that are part of the structure of an item, helping to shape the form of a smartphone, car or building while also powering its functions?
The designs, materials, cuts and graphics of jerseys are meant to stand out. AP Photo/Frank Augstein

What’s involved in designing World Cup jerseys?

World Cup jerseys have to please players, national officials, FIFA rulemakers and – perhaps most importantly – fans who buy them to show support for their teams.
What’s inside Olympians’ skis? AP Photo/Luca Bruno

Making skis strong enough for Olympians to race on

Highly engineered composite materials let skis ride smoothly, carve neatly and turn quickly – for top athletes and regular consumers alike.
Strange new materials that propel the fictional Star Trek universe are being developed by scientists in reality today. Above, the USS Discovery accelerates to warp speed in an artist’s rendition for the TV series Star Trek Discovery. (Handout)

How quantum materials may soon make Star Trek technology reality

Advanced materials that seem like they come from Star Trek are becoming reality today.

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