Broadband speed in households could be increased by replacing copper wires with plastic optical fibres, according to the results of an EU-sponsored research project. The initiative, Paving the Optical Future with Lightning-Fast Links, has focused on making polymethyl methacrylate cost effective and capable of high data capacity for transmission, improving on glass optical fibres.
A simpler, cheaper and greener method of extracting higher yields of white titanium dioxide powder from mineral ore has been developed, as a result of research conducted at the University of Leeds, UK.
Using the crystal barium organotrisulfonate, researchers at the University of Calgary, Canada, have created molecular valves that can help trap and store gases at high densities without the need for high pressures. The could lead to a safer and more efficient means of storing carbon dioxide or hydrogen for environmentally friendly vehicles.
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh, UK, have taken the most common form of uranium, uranyl dication (UO22+), found in the natural environment and nuclear waste, and converted the chemically un-reactive compound into a reactive molecule. The team believes this could improve understanding of nuclear materials and waste, and the ability to handle them.
Scientists at The University of Manchester, UK, are investigating the use of electrospun polycaprolactone nanofibres to regenerate damaged tendons. Because the bundle of fibres replicates the morphology of tendon tissue, researchers envisage that the synthetic structure will perform the mechanical function of the tendon while it repairs itself, as well as act as a temporary scaffold to promote cell migration and new tissue formation.
Plart – a museum dedicated to researching non-destructive testing for the restoration and conservation of plastic artefacts – opened on 25 January 2008 in Naples, Italy. The aim is to set up a characterisation and conservation protocol specific thermosetting plastics and thermoplastics. Polyurethane, PVC and cellulose acetate and nitrate materials are recognised as the most difficult materials to conserve from degradation.
An environmentally friendly method for introducing hydrophobic propeties and electrical conductivity to wood fibres has been developed by researchers in Finland. This could find use in packaging, composite and paper applications.
Scientists at the University of Virginia, based in Charlottesville, USA, claim to have discovered a material, made from titanium atoms complexed with ethylene, that can store large quantities of hydrogen at room temperature. This could help in the search for a more efficient and affordable hydrogen-powered fuel cell.
Scientists at Princeton University, USA, claim to have produced the first 3D metamaterial constructed entirely from semiconductors. They believe the new design could offer a cost effective way of creating negative refractive lenses for high-speed communications, medical diagnostics and detecting terrorist threats.