Although silicon semiconductors are nearly universal in modern electronics, devices made from silicon have limitations — including that they cease to function properly at very high temperatures. One promising alternative are semiconductors made from combinations of aluminum, gallium and indium with nitrogen to form aluminum nitride (AlN), gallium nitride (GaN), and indium nitride (InN), which are stronger and more stable than their silicon counterparts, function at high temperatures, are piezoelectric (that is, generate voltage under mechanical force), and are transparent to, and can emit, visible light.
Conventional processes for producing AIN layers run at temperatures as high as 1,150 C, and offer limited control over the thickness of the layers. Now a new technique, described in the American Institute of Physics Publishing journal Applied Physics Letters, offers a way to produce high-quality AlN layers with atomic-scale thickness and at half the temperature of other methods.
At seven times the toughness of Kevlar, a silk produced by the Caerostris darwini spider of Madagascar is more robust than any other material — synthetic or natural. Most spider silks are about two times tougher than Kevlar, and have long been considered an intriguing alternative for bulletproof vests and other protective gear. There’s only one problem: producing spider silk on demand is a tricky task.
Lasers have long been able to do what traditional welding guns can. Nevertheless, many manufacturers did not dare employ the delicate technology in the raw environment of their assembly floors. At LASER 2013 (Hall C2, Booth 330), researchers will be demonstrating that lasers are robust enough to take over welding duties in fabrication.
Can lasers perform welds precisely and reliably in the midst of thundering machinery? The prototype of a new laser welder developed by an international team of researchers has now withstood the worst. At INTEGASA and ENSA, two companies in Spain that produce heat exchangers for heavy industry, the prototype proved itself precise and reliable under the difficult conditions of routine daily use.
Producing strong, lightweight and complex parts for car manufacturing and the aerospace industry is set to become cheaper and more accurate thanks to a new technique developed by engineers from the Univ. of Exeter. The research team has developed a new method for making three-dimensional aluminum composite parts by mixing a combination of relatively inexpensive powders. Combining these elements causes a reaction that results in the production of particles that are 600 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Around 100 nanometers in size, the reaction uniformly distributes them through the material, making it very strong.
Caption: A complex SLM part. Image: Univ. of Exeter
Massey Univ. mechatronics Prof. Olaf Diegel made his dream come true when he created a series of colorful 3D-printed electric guitars with latticed bodies adorned with spiders and butterflies.
And when he posted images of the prototypes, explaining their origins before launching an online business, musicians and design buffs worldwide were dazzled by the aesthetics and a deluge of inquiries ensued. Now, punters can hear the decorative, brightly colored instruments, with a demo by Massey jazz guitar tutor and freelance rock guitarist Neil Watson, of the New Zealand School of Music. Watson is based at the university’s Albany campus where Diegel is a lecturer and researcher.
Peter Schmitt, an MIT doctoral student, printed a clock in 2009. He didn’t print an image of a clock on a piece of paper. He printed a three-dimensional clock — an eight-inch diameter plastic timekeeping device with moving gears, hands and counterweights. When he put it up on a wall and pushed the counterweight, it went ticktock. “It wasn’t very accurate, but it was a functioning clock,” Schmitt says.
MIT scientists also would like you to be able to print your own robot. Their vision: decide what you want it to do, download the design from the Internet, use software to make whatever changes you want and hit “print.”
Producing thin ceramic components has until now been a laborious and expensive process, as parts often get distorted during manufacture and have to be discarded as waste. Researchers are now able to reshape the surfaces of malformed components by bombarding them with tiny pellets.
Unusual Collapsing Iron Superconductor Sets Record
A team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Univ. of Maryland has found an iron-based superconductor that operates at the highest known temperature for a material in its class. The discovery inches iron-based superconductors—valued for their ease of manufacturability and other properties—closer to being useful in many practical applications.