Nanoparticles May Create Entirely New Engineering Materials

A team of University of Michigan researchers are experimenting with 145 differently shaped nanoparticles in an attempt to create new materials that can be engineered on the smallest level. 

What's the Latest Development?


Using computer simulations, University of Michigan researchers are experimenting with differently shaped nanoparticles in an attempt to determine how they naturally form patterns and possibly create entirely new materials. "Some of the shapes assembled into regular crystals—lattices in which each particle has a fixed position and orientation—and some formed plastic crystals or liquid crystals. In a plastic crystal, each particle has a fixed position within the lattice but can rotate; a liquid crystal, on the other hand, contains particles with correlated orientations but fungible positions."

What's the Big Idea?

The team is exploring 145 distinct polyhedral shapes, which are three-dimensional structures formed by a series of planar faces. Sharon Glotzer, a Michigan professor of chemical engineering, materials science and physics, said the goal of the project is to design entirely new materials. "We want new stuff, better stuff," she said. The new materials could be used in nano-sized engineering projects to create super-strong, super-efficient materials at a microscopic level. Glotzer concluded by saying: "This is sort of a holy grail of materials research, to just look at a building block and be able to say, 'Oh yes, I know all of the kinds of crystal structure that would be stable with this."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Keep reading Show less

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
Keep reading Show less

Here's how diverse the 116th Congress is set to become

The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.

(Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
  • In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
  • Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
Keep reading Show less