Plant-based plastic strong as PET, degrades into sugars in the environment

Plastics are tough, which is great when in use but not so good in the environment. Scientists have developed a new PET-like plastic derived from waste plant matter that can be chemically recycled or degrade into harmless sugars in the environment.

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Scientists cover robotic finger with living skin made from human cells

We've been hearing a lot about synthetic skins made for robotic hands, which would give the devices human-like qualities. Scientists in Japan have gone a step further, by covering a robotic finger in a self-healing skin made from live human cells.

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Lab-grown plant matter marks a step towards 3D-printable wood

Processing wood from trees isn’t the most efficient way to make furniture or building materials. MIT scientists have made breakthroughs in a process that could one day let us 3D print and grow wood directly in the shape of furniture and other things.

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Teflon-like desalination membrane purifies water fast and friction-free

A new type of desalination membrane uses a series of nanoscale tubes lined with a Teflon-inspired material that repels salts while allowing water to flow through with little friction. The team says it's fast, and requires little pressure and energy.

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Eco-friendlier cement made from sludge and urine

The production of traditional Portland cement is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, as the ingredients have to be heated to very high temperatures. Such is not the case with a new biocement, however, which also incorporates waste materials.

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Seashell-inspired material makes for strong, light spacecraft shielding

Inspired by seashells, scientists at Sandia National Labs have engineered a versatile new material that’s incredibly inexpensive, strong, lightweight, and heat resistant. The material could find use in shielding for spacecraft or fusion facilities.

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Bone-inspired materials offer light weight and tunable stiffness

Scientists regularly turn to nature for inspiration in their pursuit of next-generation materials, and engineers studying the porous microstructures of bone and wood have come up with a clever example of biomimicry with wide-ranging potential.

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Common material stores and releases waste heat energy on demand

Researchers in Japan have shown that a common material is excellent at storing and releasing heat, which could be useful for recycling industrial waste heat. The material exchanges water with the air, allowing it to quickly absorb or release heat.

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New shock-absorbing material as strong as metal but light as foam

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed a new shock-absorbing material that is super lightweight, yet offers the protection of metal. The stuff could make for helmets, armor and vehicle parts that are lighter, stronger and reusable.

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World-first way to measure material elasticity uses laser ultrasound

Scientists experimenting with a cutting-edge ultrasound technique have come up with a groundbreaking way to measure the elasticity of materials at a microscopic scale, by tracking sound waves as they bounce across individual crystals.

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