Material knowledge to keep you ahead of the curve - Issue #3  |  View in Browser

In the news:

The Evolution Revolution, ISO

& Trends in Material Development




In this month's newsletter, we cover some recent updates including the winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize for Chemistry and how businesses are using ISO standards for continuous improvement and customer satisfaction. Read on to learn more...


From “Lunatic Fringe” to the Nobel Prize: The Revolution in Evolution

When Frances H. Arnold of the California Institute of Technology was asked in 2014 about the notion of improving on the natural course of evolution, she didn’t mince words. “Twenty-five years ago it was considered the lunatic fringe,” she said. “Scientists didn’t do that. Gentlemen didn’t do that. But since I’m an engineer and not a gentleman, I had no problem with that.”


Last month Arnold, George P. Smith of the University of Missouri, and Sir Gregory P. Winter of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the UK were named the 2018 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry for having, collectively, taken control of evolution and using it for purposes that bring the greatest benefit to humankind.


Specifically, Arnold was recognised “for the directed evolution of enzymes,” resulting in more environmentally friendly manufacturing of chemical substances, such as pharmaceuticals and the production of renewable fuels. Smith and Winter, working independently, were recognised “for the phage display of peptides and antibodies,” now used in producing new pharmaceuticals, neutralising toxins, counteracting autoimmune diseases, and curing metastatic cancer.


To learn more about the evolution revolution, click here.


ISO: When the World Agrees

The International Organization for Standardization, or ISO, is an independent, non-governmental international organisation with a membership of 162 national standards bodies. Through its members, it brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market-relevant international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.


Sound lofty? It is … but in practice ISO standards have set quality, safety and efficiency standards for products, services and systems that have a direct, day-to-day impact on businesses and consumers.


For businesses, adherence to ISO standards as well as the ISO certification process help answer the question, “What’s the best way of doing this?” Significantly, there is no end point to the response; continuous improvement is key. For consumers, ISO standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality.


To learn more about ISO, click here.


Trends in Materials Development

A new way to build materials


A process called sequential infiltration synthesis (SIS) enables scientists to grow one material inside another material, such as a polymer, instead of on top of it. In SIS, vapour is diffused into the polymer, chemically bonding with the polymer and eventually growing to create inorganic structures throughout the entire polymer bulk. Using this technique, scientists can…

  • Create durable coatings that help semiconductor manufacturers incorporate more intricate features on computer chips
  • Make computer chips even smaller or add extra storage and other capabilities
  • Tailor the shape of various metals, oxides, and other inorganic materials by applying these materials to a polymer by means of SIS and then removing the remains of the polymer


For more information click here


Self-healing material can build itself from carbon in the air


Described by MIT Professor Michael Strano as “a completely new concept in materials science,” a new gel-like substance continuously converts carbon dioxide in the air into a carbon-based material that grows, strengthens, and even repairs itself. The polymer…

  • Avoids the use of fossil fuels for its creation
  • Actually consumes carbon dioxide from the air
  • Needs nothing but ambient light and carbon in the atmosphere for the conversion
  • Is not just carbon neutral, but carbon negative


Self-healing coatings and crack filling are feasible in the near term, but further advances are needed before construction materials and composites can be developed. 


For more information click here


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