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Articles Archive for February 2011

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[28 Feb 2011 | No Comment | 4,697 views]
Better Living through Zinc Selenide: Making More Efficient Optical Fibers

Yesterday I was trying to accomplish something of vital importance on the Internet when I was stopped short in my digital tracks, having discovered to my shock and horror that I would be compelled to give my email address in order to cast a vote for some friends attempting to win a Crate & Barrell “ultimate dream wedding” competition.
Worried that I would become the recipient of incessant emails extolling the merit of elegant crystal decanters and pithy advice on how to choose the perfect shrimp fork, I decided to give out my fifteen-year old aol email address (which I have pretty much completely surrendered to …

FIRE, WOOD »

[22 Feb 2011 | No Comment | 3,333 views]
Alert! New Plastics Capable of Conducting Electricity

Isn’t it delightful when materials demonstrate unexpected capabilities? It pleased me to no end to discover that plastic, which is normally such a poor conductor of electricity that it is used to insulate copper wires, can practically lead Beethoven’s Ninth under the right conditions. The feeling is similar to what I imagine I’d experience upon finding out that a block of cheddar cheese can be MacGyvered into a supercomputer.

Image courtesy www.samcooks.com
Australian researchers at the University of Queensland and UNSW School of Physics have managed to manufacture cheap, strong, flexible and conductive plastic films by placing a thin film of metal onto a …

FIRE, WATER »

[17 Feb 2011 | 3 Comments | 7,893 views]
Solve the Future Energy Crisis: Coat Everything with Solar Paint

To me a solar cell is kind of like a Lamborghini: difficult to acquire, difficult to maintain, and unless you’re extremely lucky, only semi-functional. Today’s solar cells only convert a small percentage of the energy from the sun into electricity, and that’s before they get dirty.  “It’s challenging to get high efficiencies of conversion. For example, the basic single junction solar cell is fundamentally limited to an efficiency of 30 percent. So, if you made a perfect solar cell, the highest efficiency would be 30 percent. Currently, manufacturing cells with anything near that …

Uncategorized »

[14 Feb 2011 | One Comment | 1,897 views]
Fabricating a Toaster, Oyster Ecology, & Fungus Packing Materials – 3 TED Talks

Have you met TED?
No, I’m not playing wingman for Ted Mosby.  TED is a conference during which exceedingly smart, skillful people present their work in 20 minutes or less.  The presentations are published on the Internets and made available to the world at large for the low price of $free.99.  TED talks are an amazing source of inspiration and information – and some of them feature innovative materials! Therefore, in this post I present three TED talks that relate in some way to the content on ARCHITERIALS:
 1. Thomas Thwaites: How I built …

EARTH, FIRE »

[9 Feb 2011 | One Comment | 6,979 views]
FibreC: Thin Slab Concrete Siding that May Settle the Wood vs. Brick Debate

I grew up in Northern California, and I suppose I like the look of structures clad in wood because they’re comfortable and familiar. Wood works wonderfully in that earthquake-riddled part of the country because it’s flexible and can handle the forces imparted by the occasional seismic event better than a brick facade.  Brick is great, but it can’t be denied that it will undergo a complete nervous breakdown when placed under unusual stress. More often than not, wood faced with lateral forces takes a deep breath, squares its shoulders, and carries on with the vital business of protecting building interiors …

METAL, WOOD »

[7 Feb 2011 | 2 Comments | 6,845 views]
Materials in Motion: Super Elastic Plastic

 
I ordered a sample of super elastic plastic from Inventables, and when it came in I decided that it would be a lot easier to physically demonstrate how stretchy it is, rather than merely describing the elastic qualities of the material. Also the plastic came a lovely shade of pink (which may or may not have influenced my decision to order it in the first place) and I thought you might like to see the pinkness of it. All this is to say that I just made my first Materials in Motion video post, and …

METAL, WOOD »

[1 Feb 2011 | One Comment | 15,258 views]
Stretch Fabric Ceilings: Flexible, Light, and Fantastic

Depending on your approach, a ceiling can be a tricky proposition. Most of the time ceilings conceal the jumble of tangled wires, structure, ductwork, plumbing, and insulation that allow building systems to function. If you’re organized about it, you can leave the ceiling out altogether and simply expose the entrails. But if you’re looking to hide the mess up there, a gyp board, plaster or acoustic tile ceiling are probably among the systems you’re considering. But what happens when you want to do something a little different? What if you want your ceiling to glow?
I bring this …

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