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Concept: Material


Plastic debris litters aquatic habitats globally, the majority of which is microscopic (< 1 mm), and is ingested by a large range of species. Risks associated with such small fragments come from the material itself and from chemical pollutants that sorb to it from surrounding water. Hazards associated with the complex mixture of plastic and accumulated pollutants are largely unknown. Here, we show that fish, exposed to a mixture of polyethylene with chemical pollutants sorbed from the marine environment, bioaccumulate these chemical pollutants and suffer liver toxicity and pathology. Fish fed virgin polyethylene fragments also show signs of stress, although less severe than fish fed marine polyethylene fragments. We provide baseline information regarding the bioaccumulation of chemicals and associated health effects from plastic ingestion in fish and demonstrate that future assessments should consider the complex mixture of the plastic material and their associated chemical pollutants.

Concepts: Chemical substance, Mixture, Toxicology, Pollution, Plastic, Chemical compound, Material, Ocean


Agro-industrial wastes are generated during the industrial processing of agricultural products. These wastes are generated in large amounts throughout the year, and are the most abundant renewable resources on earth. Due to the large availability and composition rich in compounds that could be used in other processes, there is a great interest on the reuse of these wastes, both from economical and environmental view points. The economic aspect is based on the fact that such wastes may be used as low-cost raw materials for the production of other value-added compounds, with the expectancy of reducing the production costs. The environmental concern is because most of the agro-industrial wastes contain phenolic compounds and/or other compounds of toxic potential; which may cause deterioration of the environment when the waste is discharged to the nature. Although the production of bioethanol offers many benefits, more research is needed in the aspects like feedstock preparation, fermentation technology modification, etc., to make bioethanol more economically viable.

Concepts: Environment, Natural environment, Natural resource, Material, Recycling, Habitat conservation, Environmentalism, Ethanol fuel


Recent research suggests that variation exists among and between Oldowan stone tool assemblages. Oldowan variation might represent differential constraints on raw materials used to produce these stone implements. Alternatively, variation among Oldowan assemblages could represent different methods that Oldowan producing hominins utilized to produce these lithic implements. Identifying differential patterns of stone tool production within the Oldowan has implications for assessing how stone tool technology evolved, how traditions of lithic production might have been culturally transmitted, and for defining the timing and scope of these evolutionary events. At present there is no null model to predict what morphological variation in the Oldowan should look like. Without such a model, quantifying whether Oldowan assemblages vary due to raw material constraints or whether they vary due to differences in production technique is not possible. This research establishes a null model for Oldowan lithic artifact morphological variation. To establish these expectations this research 1) models the expected range of variation through large scale reduction experiments, 2) develops an algorithm to categorize archaeological flakes based on how they are produced, and 3) statistically assesses the methods of production behavior used by Oldowan producing hominins at the site of DK from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania via the experimental model. Results indicate that a subset of quartzite flakes deviate from the null expectations in a manner that demonstrates efficiency in flake manufacture, while some basalt flakes deviate from null expectations in a manner that demonstrates inefficiency in flake manufacture. The simultaneous presence of efficiency in stone tool production for one raw material (quartzite) and inefficiency in stone tool production for another raw material (basalt) suggests that Oldowan producing hominins at DK were able to mediate the economic costs associated with stone tool procurement by utilizing high-cost materials more efficiently than is expected and low-cost materials in an inefficient manner.

Concepts: Material, Materials, Economic efficiency, Stone Age, Raw material, Stone tool, Oldowan, Olduvai Gorge


In this study, chlorhexidine hexametaphosphate (CHX-HMP) is investigated as a persistent antimicrobial coating for wound care materials.

Concepts: Wound healing, Effectiveness, Materials science, Material


Many biological materials exist in non-equilibrium states driven by the irreversible consumption of high-energy molecules like ATP or GTP. These energy-dissipating structures are governed by kinetics and are thus endowed with unique properties including spatiotemporal control over their presence. Here we show man-made equivalents of materials driven by the consumption of high-energy molecules and explore their unique properties. A chemical reaction network converts dicarboxylates into metastable anhydrides driven by the irreversible consumption of carbodiimide fuels. The anhydrides hydrolyse rapidly to the original dicarboxylates and are designed to assemble into hydrophobic colloids, hydrogels or inks. The spatiotemporal control over the formation and degradation of materials allows for the development of colloids that release hydrophobic contents in a predictable fashion, temporary self-erasing inks and transient hydrogels. Moreover, we show that each material can be re-used for several cycles.

Concepts: Chemical reaction, Chemistry, Thermodynamics, Chemical substance, Materials science, Material, Gel, Non-equilibrium thermodynamics


Human-made material stocks accumulating in buildings, infrastructure, and machinery play a crucial but underappreciated role in shaping the use of material and energy resources. Building, maintaining, and in particular operating in-use stocks of materials require raw materials and energy. Material stocks create long-term path-dependencies because of their longevity. Fostering a transition toward environmentally sustainable patterns of resource use requires a more complete understanding of stock-flow relations. Here we show that about half of all materials extracted globally by humans each year are used to build up or renew in-use stocks of materials. Based on a dynamic stock-flow model, we analyze stocks, inflows, and outflows of all materials and their relation to economic growth, energy use, and CO2 emissions from 1900 to 2010. Over this period, global material stocks increased 23-fold, reaching 792 Pg (±5%) in 2010. Despite efforts to improve recycling rates, continuous stock growth precludes closing material loops; recycling still only contributes 12% of inflows to stocks. Stocks are likely to continue to grow, driven by large infrastructure and building requirements in emerging economies. A convergence of material stocks at the level of industrial countries would lead to a fourfold increase in global stocks, and CO2 emissions exceeding climate change goals. Reducing expected future increases of material and energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions will require decoupling of services from the stocks and flows of materials through, for example, more intensive utilization of existing stocks, longer service lifetimes, and more efficient design.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Climate change, Material, Sustainability, Peak oil, Greenhouse gas, Global warming, World energy resources and consumption


Macroscale multimodal chemical imaging combining hyperspectral diffuse reflectance (400-2500 nm), luminescence (400-1000 nm), and X-ray fluorescence (XRF, 2 to 25 keV) data, is uniquely equipped for noninvasive characterization of heterogeneous complex systems such as paintings. Here we present the first application of multimodal chemical imaging to analyze the production technology of an 1,800-year-old painting and one of the oldest surviving encaustic (“burned in”) paintings in the world. Co-registration of the data cubes from these three hyperspectral imaging modalities enabled the comparison of reflectance, luminescence, and XRF spectra at each pixel in the image for the entire painting. By comparing the molecular and elemental spectral signatures at each pixel, this fusion of the data allowed for a more thorough identification and mapping of the painting’s constituent organic and inorganic materials, revealing key information on the selection of raw materials, production sequence and the fashion aesthetics and chemical arts practiced in Egypt in the second century AD.

Concepts: Fluorescence, X-ray fluorescence, Physics, Materials science, Material, Imaging, Cathodoluminescence, Painting


For aerial robots, maintaining a high vantage point for an extended time is crucial in many applications. However, available on-board power and mechanical fatigue constrain their flight time, especially for smaller, battery-powered aircraft. Perching on elevated structures is a biologically inspired approach to overcome these limitations. Previous perching robots have required specific material properties for the landing sites, such as surface asperities for spines, or ferromagnetism. We describe a switchable electroadhesive that enables controlled perching and detachment on nearly any material while requiring approximately three orders of magnitude less power than required to sustain flight. These electroadhesives are designed, characterized, and used to demonstrate a flying robotic insect able to robustly perch on a wide range of materials, including glass, wood, and a natural leaf.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Materials science, Material, Flight, Takeoff


Chemical warfare agents containing phosphonate ester bonds are among the most toxic chemicals known to mankind. Recent global military events, such as the conflict and disarmament in Syria, have brought into focus the need to find effective strategies for the rapid destruction of these banned chemicals. Solutions are needed for immediate personal protection (for example, the filtration and catalytic destruction of airborne versions of agents), bulk destruction of chemical weapon stockpiles, protection (via coating) of clothing, equipment and buildings, and containment of agent spills. Solid heterogeneous materials such as modified activated carbon or metal oxides exhibit many desirable characteristics for the destruction of chemical warfare agents. However, low sorptive capacities, low effective active site loadings, deactivation of the active site, slow degradation kinetics, and/or a lack of tailorability offer significant room for improvement in these materials. Here, we report a carefully chosen metal-organic framework (MOF) material featuring high porosity and exceptional chemical stability that is extraordinarily effective for the degradation of nerve agents and their simulants. Experimental and computational evidence points to Lewis-acidic Zr(IV) ions as the active sites and to their superb accessibility as a defining element of their efficacy.

Concepts: Chemistry, Chemical substance, Chemical element, Material, Nerve agent, Chemical warfare


Recently SnSe, a layered chalcogenide material, has attracted a great deal of attention for its excellent p-type thermoelectric property showing a remarkable ZT value of 2.6 at 923 K. For thermoelectric device applications, it is necessary to have n-type materials with comparable ZT value. Here, we report that n-type SnSe single crystals were successfully synthesized by substituting Bi at Sn sites. In addition, it was found that the carrier concentration increases with Bi content, which has a great influence on the thermoelectric properties of n-type SnSe single crystals. Indeed, we achieved the maximum ZT value of 2.2 along b axis at 733 K in the most highly doped n-type SnSe with a carrier density of -2.1 × 10(19) cm(-3) at 773 K.

Concepts: Semiconductor, Materials science, Material, Property, Thermoelectric effect, P-type semiconductor, The Carrier, Carrier Corporation