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A tiny break into toughness

A beetle shell might look like solid armor to us, but it’s actually composed of tiny fibers woven together in complex structures. These nanofibers that comprise many natural materials from shell to skin to cartilage are surprisingly tough and are able to handle force without fracturing.

Q&A: UW researchers develop a reactor that can destroy ‘forever chemicals’

“Forever chemicals,” named for their ability to persist in water and soil, are a class of molecules that are ever-present in our daily lives, including food packaging and household cleaning products. Because these chemicals don’t break down, they end up in our water and food, and they can lead to health effects, such as cancer or decreased fertility. Now a team of researchers at the University of Washington has created a new way to tackle these chemicals — a technology that could help treat industrial waste, destroy concentrated forever chemicals that already exist in the environment and deal with old stocks, such as the forever chemicals in fire-fighting foam.

Harvesting thermal energy to power wearable electronics

Wearable electronics, from health and fitness trackers to virtual reality headsets, are part of our everyday lives – but finding ways to continuously power them is a challenge. UW researchers, led by ME Assistant Professor and NanoES researcher Mohammad Malakooti, have developed an innovative solution to this challenge: a wearable thermoelectric device that converts body heat to electricity. 

Next-generation data centers within reach thanks to new energy-efficient switches

In a paper published online July 4 in Nature Nanotechnology, a team led by University of Washington scientists reported the design of an energy-efficient, silicon-based non-volatile switch that manipulates light through the use of a phase-change material and graphene heater. The exceptional performance of their switch could help advance both information technology and quantum computing.

Exploring new materials through collaboration

Jim De Yoreo, a Battelle fellow at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and a UW affiliate professor of chemistry and materials science & engineering, has been nationally recognized as a scientific leader who forges partnerships between national laboratories and universities. Through advanced microscopy techniques, De Yoreo has spent his career trying to understand and predict the behavior of materials. For example, his team has determined the patterns that proteins form on a mineral surface, laying the groundwork for new strategies for synthesizing semiconductor and metallic nanoparticle circuits for photovoltaic or energy storage applications.