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Hide From GPS With This Signal-Blocking Phone Case. Scientists Invent a New, Lighter Steel That's as Strong as Titanium. From shipping containers to skyscrapers to turbines, good old steel is still the workhorse of our modern world.

Scientists Invent a New, Lighter Steel That's as Strong as Titanium

Now, scientists are discovering new secrets to make the material better, lighter, and stronger. Today a team of material scientists at Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea announced what they're calling one of the biggest steel breakthroughs of the last few decades: an altogether new type of flexible, ultra-strong, lightweight steel. This new metal has a strength-to-weight ratio that matches even our best titanium alloys, but at one tenth the cost, and can be created on a small scale with machinery already used to make automotive-grade steel. The study appears in Nature. "Because of its lightness, our steel may find many applications in automotive and aircraft manufacturing," says Hansoo Kim, the researcher that led the team. Bend, Don't Break Hansoo Kim B2 crystals (light gray) are dispersed in the aluminum-steel alloy (dark gray.) A battery that charges in 6 minutes? MIT breakthrough could power smartphones of the future.

Everyone wants their smartphone battery to last longer.

A battery that charges in 6 minutes? MIT breakthrough could power smartphones of the future

And new research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) could help make it possible. A team of scientists have created what they call a "yolk and shell" invention and reckon it could charge from zero to full in only six minutes. What's more, the new technology could hold three times' the capacity of the lithium ion batteries in current smartphones and tablets. Meaning you could go for over two days without charging your phone.

The new battery uses nanoparticles to help a titanium dioxide "shell" and aluminium "yolk" (anode) expand and contract without degrading over time. At the moment, current batteries will expand and contract as soon as they leave the factory. Christine Daniloff/MIT “These yolk-shell particles show very impressive performance in lab-scale testing,” said David Lou, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Enter the graphene era. Carbon acquires superpowers when it takes on the two-dimensional chicken-wire form, graphene.

Enter the graphene era

Credit: Chad Hagen True or false? It’s possible to make a sheet of carbon that is a single atom thick. If you’d asked that question before 2004, most scientists would have laughed you out of the room. It seemed as fanciful as the story of Flatland – a two-dimensional world vividly imagined by satirist Edwin Abbott in 1884. 2004 was the year maverick scientist Andre Geim and his student Kostya Novoselov introduced graphene to the world. But perhaps graphene’s most extraordinary quality is that after a decade of intensive investigation it continues to startle the world.

Geim has come up with crazier ideas. Maverick physicist Andre Geim, who used sticky tape to produce graphene.Credit: Friedrun Reinhold / dpa / Corbis Thirty years ago textbooks listed four varieties of carbon. Researchers finding applications for tough spinel ceramic. Imagine a glass window that's tough like armor, a camera lens that doesn't get scratched in a sand storm, or a smart phone that doesn't break when dropped.

Researchers finding applications for tough spinel ceramic

Except it's not glass, it's a special ceramic called spinel {spin-ELL} that the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has been researching over the last 10 years. "Spinel is actually a mineral, it's magnesium aluminate," says Dr. Jas Sanghera, who leads the research. "The advantage is it's so much tougher, stronger, harder than glass.

As a more durable material, a thinner layer of spinel can give better performance than glass. NRL invented a new way of making transparent spinel, using a hot press, called sintering. The sintering method also allows NRL to make optics in a number of shapes, "conformal with the surface of an airplane or UAV wing," depending on the shape of the press. NRL is also looking at spinel for the windows on lasers operating in maritime and other hostile environments. What is spinel? UCLA researchers create super-strong yet light new metal could be used for lighter airplanes, cars helping to improve fuel efficiency - bcnstar.