Glass toughens up with lessons from mother nature

MATERIALS SCIENCE

Mollusc shells consist largely of chalk, the same soft stuff that comes apart so easily on blackboards. Yet this material provides aquatic life with protection tougher than advanced engineering ceramics. The difference can be seen at the microscopic level, where the shell is revealed as an interlocking series of small tablets, intricately connected to provide remarkable resilience.

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Superconductors hang 10 riding the charge waves

FUNDAMENTALS

The extraordinary properties of superconductivity have regularly frustrated researchers, who have successfully identified it in many different materials, but always at temperatures too low for a widespread technological impact. The search for superconducting materials — which lack any resistance to electrical flow — has regularly frustrated researchers; while many such materials have been discovered, they only work at temperatures too low for widespread application.

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Small publication means big exposure for collaborators

NANOTECHNOLOGY

Three researchers at Polytechnique Montréal have published a paper that was featured as the cover story for the Wiley publication Small, which has an impact factor that puts it among the world’s leading publications covering topics in nano-scale and micro-scale chemistry, physics, materials science, engineering, medicine and biology.

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New quantum laboratory opens at University of Waterloo

MATERIALS SCIENCE

The advent of electronic systems that can operate at the level of quantum interactions promises to usher in an era of unprecedented computer processing speed and information storage. Before this revolution can begin, however, scientists need to make the raw materials that will go into this new equipment. This past December, the University of Waterloo opened up a laboratory to do just that.

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Imaging boost for fuel cells

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

The same tomographic imaging technique that provides doctors and surgeons with vital views inside their patients is now being adapted to improve the performance of hydrogen fuel cells. Researchers at Simon Fraser University are working with Burnaby-based Ballard Power Systems to apply a new tool for testing and characterizing these devices.

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Size counts when it comes to contrast agents

NANOTECHNOLOGY

Radiographic images produced by X-rays have been a staple tool of medical diagnosis for many decades and this technology remains one of the health care system’s workhorses. Nevertheless, important physiological features, such as the emergence or growth of tumours, ...

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Making the most of minerals

MINERAL PROCESSING

This past fall, the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) opened the Mineral Processing Pilot Plant to enhance the Canadian mining industry’s capabilities in Western Canada and beyond.

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Persistent Contamination

ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY

Survival in the Arctic has always been about finding food in a harsh land, as many European­ explorers learned the hard way. Some, such as Roald Amundsen of Norway, made good use of the nutritional wisdom of the Arctic Inuit, whom he met during his exploration of the Northwest Passage from 1903 to 1906. This...

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