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Improved thermal-shock resistance in industrial ceramics

Ceramic materials are used in nuclear, chemical and electrical power generation industries because of their ability to withstand extreme environments. However, at high temperatures, ceramics are susceptible to thermal-shock fractures caused by rapid temperature-changing events, such as cold water droplet contact with hot surfaces. In a novel interdisciplinary approach, engineers report the use of a cheap, simple, water-repelling coating to prevent thermal shock in ceramics.

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Researchers unravel the path of electrical discharges on phenomenally small scales

Innovations on the microscale depend on understanding the behavior of electricity on the smallest of length scales. Scientists have a good grasp of 'electrical breakdown,' when electricity jumps across large gaps and creates plasma; however, researchers have had little insight into the behavior of electricity as it jumps across very small gaps until now. A team reports research that shines light on electrical breakdown for the smallest gap distances ever studied: five to 10 microns.

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A materials scientist’s dream come true

Materials can deform plastically by atomic-scale line defects called dislocations. Many technical applications are based on this fundamental process, such as forging, but we also rely on the power of dislocations in our everyday life: in the crumple zone of cars dislocations protect lives by transforming energy into plastic deformation. Researchers have now found a way of manipulating individual dislocations directly on the atomic scale.

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Structural fluctuation evaluation in substances from measurement data

Microstructure analysis of materials is a key technology for new material research. Using an information extraction technique called sparse modeling, a collaboration of researchers has developed the world's first method of analyzing a material's atomic structure using only measured data. This method needs no prior assumptions of atomic structure, which are required in conventional microstructure analysis methods. This new approach is expected to improve the functionality of and give longer life to batteries.

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Switching DNA and RNA on and off

DNA and RNA are naturally polarized molecules. Scientists believe that these molecules have an in-built polarity that can be reoriented or reversed fully or in part under an electric field. In a new study scientists show that all the DNA and RNA building blocks, or nucleobases, exhibit a non-zero polarization in the presence of polar atoms or molecules such as amidogen and carbonyl.

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