A Wolverine-Inspired Material

Scientists, including several from UC Riverside, have developed a transparent, self-healing, highly stretchable conductive material that can be electrically activated to power artificial muscles and could be used to improve batteries, electronic devices, and robots.

The findings, which were published on Dec. 23 in the journal Advanced Material, represent the first time scientists have created an ionic conductor, meaning materials that ions can flow through, that is transparent, mechanically stretchable, and self-healing.

Chao Wang

The material has potential applications in a wide range of fields. It could give robots the ability to self-heal after mechanical failure; extend the lifetime of lithium ion batteries used in electronics and electric cars; and improve biosensors used in the medical field and environmental monitoring.

“Creating a material with all these properties has been a puzzle for years,” said Chao Wang, an adjunct assistant professor of chemistry who is one of the authors of the paper. “We did that and now are just beginning to explore the applications.”

Inspired by wound healing in nature, self-healing materials repair damage caused by wear and extend the lifetime, and lower the cost, of materials and devices. Wang developed an interest in self-healing materials because of his lifelong love of Wolverine, the comic book character who has the ability to self-heal.

Read the full story.

UC Research Project to Address California Drought

Drought-ravaged California misses out on billions of gallons of fresh water each year, as rain washes into storm drains and out to sea. University of California researchers say it’s time for that practice to change.

A.L.N. Rao, UCR professor of plant pathology and microbiology, is part of a team led by UC Irvine civil engineer Stanley Grant that includes faculty from around the UC system. They will use a $1.9 million grant from UC’s Multicampus Research and Programs Initiatives to show how urban storm water can safely augment water supplies and minimize flood risk.

A.L.N. Rao

Through coordinated research and modeling, Rao and faculty from Irvine, UCLA, San Diego, and Santa Barbara will develop the science, engineering, and policy innovations needed to usher in a new era.

“This is one of 15 interdisciplinary projects that the university is funding in 2017 to advance research in areas of critical importance to California and the world,” said Arthur Ellis, UC’s vice president for research and graduate studies. “These projects illustrate how UC can leverage its collective excellence to develop solutions for real-world problems.”

The grants, totaling over $17 million, were announced in early December. The winning research projects were selected by peer review from a pool of 97 applications in a highly competitive grant review process.

Read more about the grant and other projects UCR will be involved in.

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