Back in 2011, I bought a new countertop made from "Curface," a composite material made from a mix of melted down used coffee cups and coffee grounds; we still have it and it's wearing beautifully -- you can treat it like solid wood, sanding off imperfections and oiling it back up to a shine; or you can treat it like a polymer and treat it with waxes like Turtle Wax for a durable finish.
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In The Next Generation of Deep Learning Hardware: Analog Computing *Sci-Hub mirror), a trio of IBM researchers discuss how new materials could allow them to build analog computers that vastly improved the energy/computing efficiency in training machine-learning networks.
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A new paper in Nature describes the US-Army-funded research of U Penn materials scientists to create a new generation of 3D printed "smart objects" whose geometry and materials enable them to interact with their environments without having to use embedded computers, sensors or actuators.
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Gumshoe sneakers are made with rubber derived in part from gum chewed by residents of Amsterdam, made jointly with Gumdrop, whose gum recycling bins are used to collect feedstock for processes that create plastics and rubbers.
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Cajiso's "paper watches" wrap a watertight tyvek wristband with a magnetic closure around a cheap-and-cheerful LED watch mechanism, yielding a $28 novelty/fashion item that can be printed with arbitrary bitmaps and are thus available in a wide variety of patterns. (via Red Ferret)
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A team of material scientists from Northwestern University figured out how to make hair dye in various shades of grey, all the way to a very, very black black, out of graphene sheets.
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Skycool Systems is a Stanford spin-out that uses panels composed of "layers of silicon dioxide and hafnium oxide on top of a thin layer of silver" to convert the waste-heat from air-conditioners' heat exchangers into 8-13 micrometer radiation, which passes through the atmosphere and radiates into space. Read the rest
Penn State researchers funded by the Army Research Office and the Office of Naval Research have posted video showing their progress on "self-healing" textiles that use proteins similar to those found in human hair and squid teeth to allow fibers to coated in polyelectrolytes so that they can be set and bonded using safe solvents under ambient conditions. Read the rest
Dutch design house Nightshop sourced soft urethane nonskid foam, which starts off as a liquid that you squirt out of a syringe, and they proceeded to weave a series of handmade rugs out of it. Read the rest
A new book, Material Innovation: Packaging Design, written by a material science consultant and a design consultant, explores the ways that packaging is being changed by innovations in retail, materials, design, and marketing. Read the rest
"Fordite" is an anthropocenic mineral "formed from the built up of layers of enamel paint slag on tracks and skids on which cars were hand spray-painted (a now automated process), which have been baked numerous times. In recent times the material has been recycled as eco-friendly jewelry."
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Camp-gear company Sea to Summit makes a line of collapsible silicone cook-pots with anodized aluminum bases. Read the rest
CP Company worked with the Royal College of Art to recreate and update Massimo Osti's "Goggle Jacket" -- a jacket designed for Italy's Mille Miglia open-road endurance race that ran between WWI and WWII. They modernized the materials, rethought some of the fit issues -- a clever flourish reduces bunching while sitting; another moves the watch-window so you can check the time without moving your hands from the steering wheel -- but still managed to produce something that looks simultaneously futuristic and retro. It's a gorgeous piece of clothing, though £879 is too rich for my blood. Read the rest
Ministry of Supply is a Kickstarter-funded, new-materials-based fashion house that produces clothing (to date, men's business clothing) based on new fabrics with exotic dirt/water-shedding properties, breathability, and stretch/give. A lot of this stuff has already made its way into the sportwear world, but it's pretty new in business wear, and the result is things like no-iron shirts; slacks with invisible, breathable crotch-venting; odor-absorbing socks and so forth. The slacks don't get wet in rain and are stretchy ("more elastic than cotton but not as stretchy as spandex"). Read the rest
Ars Technica's Casey Johnston reviews Outlier's Women’s Daily Riding Pants, a technical garment that effectively comprise a pair of jeans for wearing, rather than simply being photographed in. They've got generous pockets, a finish that repels water and dirt; a fast-drying loose weave; a higher cut in the back to prevent plumber's crack, and they stretch in four directions. Johnston's review makes them sound great, and makes me want to try on a pair of the men's version. They run about $200. Read the rest
In a Nature paper called "Solid carbon, springy and light, scientists from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China introduce a record-breakingly light aerogel, lighter than helium, only twice as heavy as hydrogen:
Gao Chao's team had already been building macroscopic graphene materials in one and two dimensions; to create the new aerogel, the researchers branched out into the third dimension, using a new method of freeze drying the solutions of carbon nanotubes and graphene to create malleable carbon sponges.
PhD candidate Sun Haiyan explained, "It's somewhat like large space structures such as big stadiums, with steel bars as supports and high strength film as walls to achieve both lightness and strength. Here, carbon nanotubes are supports and graphene is the wall."
The new material is amazingly absorptive, able to suck in up to 900 times its own weight in oil at a rate of 68.8 grams per second — only oil, not water, which means it has massive potential as a cleaning material when it comes to events such as oil spills.
Graphene aerogel is the new world's lightest substance [Crave/Michelle Starr]
(via Beyond the Beyond)
(Image: Graphene aerogel resting on a delicate plant, Zhejiang University)) Read the rest
"Ultra Ever Dry" is a nanomaterial spray-coating that is (apparently) insanely hydrophobic, shedding dirt, water and oil. The jaw-dropping product video suggests many possibilities, from extreme hydroplaning sports to odd molecular gastronomy possibilities (though it's not rated food-safe, so caveat sprayer). If you're impatient, just zip the video to 2:00 or so and marvel.
What is it? The company says it's a "coating" that will repel almost any liquid by creating a barrier of air on the surface. They don't say what's in the coating. Whatever it is, the How to Apply This Product video suggests you don goggles, gloves and protective gear when you spray. They claim it will protect in temperatures ranging from -30 degrees Fahrenheit to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, but durability is a question. In the video, they say abrasion might affect performance (which makes me wonder how long a pair of sprayed boots would stay dry if you were on a wet, slippery, rocky hiking trail). It's expensive. The base coat is $57.95 and the top coat is $100.95 a quart. On the other hand, if you dare to spray it on your car windows, you wouldn't need window wipers. Or would the windows get too cloudy? If you sprayed it on a car surface, would it affect the gloss? Probably.
Next Time Your Mom Says Don't Go Out in The Rain, Spray Yourself With This [Robert Krulwich/NPR]
(Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest