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Articles on material science

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If it’s good enough for a spider, why can’t we make such strong silk? Flickr/Petra Bensted

Why we can’t spin a silken yarn as strong as a spider can

Spider silk is strong stuff and could be used to manufacture ultra tough ropes and cables, and better sutures in medicine. If only we could find a way to make the stuff.
Preparing conducting carbon nanospheres that operate as qubits at room temperature (right) by burning naphthalene (left). Dr Mohammad Choucair

All you need for quantum computing at room temperature is some mothballs

Much of the current research in quantum computing involves work at close to absolute zero. A simple breakthough with an everyday material could see them work at more acceptable temperatures.
Make up your mind, glass. jurra8

Is glass a solid or a liquid?

Before Pilkingtons invented plate glass in the mid-19th century, flat panes could not be made. Old windows are uneven. Some once thought this was because glass is a liquid that flows down slowly over the…
Shapeshifting: 3D printed materials that change shape over time. Dan Raviv/Scientific Reports

Explainer: what is 4D printing?

Additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – is 30 years old this year. Today, it’s found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can print…
A copper strip bending to the forces of pressure: knowing how and why will help build better materials. knitsteel

Elastic to plastic: high-energy lasers warp copper – permanently

The exact pressure that permanently changes copper crystals has been pinpointed, according to a study released today. The findings, published in the journal Science, show that when copper is compressed…
Not so sexy, but very useful. Simon Ydhag, Uppsala University

Scientists make ‘impossible material’ … by accident

Researchers in Uppsala, Sweden accidentally left a reaction running over the weekend and ended up resolving a century-old chemistry problem. Their work has led to the development of a new material, dubbed…

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