A coating inspired by fish scales could highlight structural weakness in buildings and vehicles

Article written by Simon Neil

Inspired by natural iridescence in fish skin, scientists in Germany have developed a graphene-based coating that changes colour when deformed. It could provide a simple way to warn of hidden damage in buildings, bridges and other structures.

Many materials are coloured by chemical pigments, which absorb light at particular wavelengths and reflect the remaining light, which we see as colour. Other materials, however, are given colour by periodically arranged microscopic surface structures. These cause interference between reflected light waves, amplifying them at specific visible frequencies. This strategy is used in some of nature’s most vibrant materials, from fish scales to peacock feathers, butterfly wings and cephalopod skins.

To read the full article visit Chemistry World.

Variable structural colouration of composite interphases
Yinhu Deng, Shanglin Gao, Jianwen Liu, Uwe Gohs, Edith Mäder and Gert Heinrich
Journal Article Mater. Horiz., 2017, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C6MH00559D, Communication

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#RSCPoster Twitter Poster Conference 2017

Congratulations to Paolo Actis from the University of Leeds on winning Second prize in the #RSCMat category of the #RSCPoster Twitter Poster Conference 2017.

Paolo’s poster was titled was Creative use of electrowetting to perform biopsies from living cells

We are delighted to award Paolo the prize of a £50 RSC book voucher on behalf of Materials Horizons.

Thank you for participating in the Twitter conference and congratulations again on your achievement!

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Outstanding Reviewers for Materials Horizons in 2016

Following the success of Peer Review Week in September 2016 (dedicated to reviewer recognition) during which we published a list of our top reviewers, we are delighted to announce that we will continue to recognise the contribution that our reviewers make to the journal by announcing our Outstanding Reviewers each year.

We would like to highlight the Outstanding Reviewers for Materials Horizons in 2016, as selected by the editorial team, for their significant contribution to the journal. The reviewers have been chosen based on the number, timeliness and quality of the reports completed over the last 12 months.

We would like to say a big thank you to those individuals listed here as well as to all of the reviewers that have supported the journal. Each Outstanding Reviewer will receive a certificate to give recognition for their significant contribution.

Professor Fei Huang, South China University of Technology
Dr Susan Kelleher, University College Dublin
Professor Christine Luscombe, University of Washington
Professor Markus Niederberger, ETH Zurich
Dr Genqiang Zhang, University of Science and Technology of China

We would also like to thank the Materials Horizons board and the materials community for their continued support of the journal, as authors, reviewers and readers.

If you would like to become a reviewer for our journal, just email us with details of your research interests and an up-to-date CV or résumé. You can find more details in our author and reviewer resource centre

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Spider silk strength is in the loop

Article written by Simon Neil

Discovery of hidden thread in silk of deadly spider inspires material-toughening strategy

Scientists have discovered microscopic metastructures in the web of the recluse spider that offer a blueprint for tough new materials.

Source: © Schniepp Lab The recluse spider spins its ribbon-like silk into loops

At first glance, the venomous yet timid Chilean recluse spider (Loxosceles laeta) seems to be highly disorganised in constructing its web. Traversing its lair, it deposits clumpy bales of silk in a messy, tangled cobweb. Look closer. Work led by Hannes Schniepp at the College of William and Mary, in Virginia, US, in collaboration with Fritz Vollrath at the University of Oxford, UK, has shown that the spider carefully choreographs its spinnerets to sew silk in thousands of micrometre-sized loops. When strained, the loops sequentially open to reveal hidden length in the thread, dissipating energy and staving off breakage.

To read the full article visit Chemistry World.

Toughness-enhancing metastructure in the recluse spider’s looped ribbon silk
S. R. Koebley, F. Vollrath and H. C. Schniepp
Journal Article Mater. Horiz., 2017, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C6MH00473C, Communication

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Hydrogel wound sealant simplifies trauma treatment

Article written by Simon Neil

Spray-on bandage dissolves on demand

Scientists in the US have developed a hydrogel-based wound sealant that can be easily applied to stem severe bleeding then gently and precisely removed to allow surgery.

On the 3 October 1993, Corporal James Smith, a 21-year-old US army ranger on operations in Mogadishu, bled to death from a gunshot wound to his thigh and pelvis. You might already know the story of that night, recounted in Mark Bowden’s book Black hawk down. The harrowing story of Smith’s death highlights how difficult it can be for a medic to control internal bleeding before it’s too late – especially if they are pinned down at night by enemy fire, hours from surgical help. Even far from the battlefield, haemorrhage is a serious threat to anyone with a severe wound. Each year, it kills more Americans than those who died in the entire Vietnam war.

To read the full article visit Chemistry World.

A hydrogel sealant for the treatment of severe hepatic and aortic trauma with a dissolution feature for post-emergent care
Marlena D. Konieczynska, Juan C. Villa-Camacho, Cynthia Ghobril, Miguel Perez-Viloria, William A. Blessing, Ara Nazarian, Edward K. Rodriguez and Mark W. Grinstaff
Journal Article Mater. Horiz., 2017, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C6MH00378H, Communication

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The new and expanded Materials Horizons Community Board

Our early career researcher Advisory Board

Last year, we launched the first early career researcher Board for Materials Horizons, the Community Board. Since then, these Board members have provided invaluable feedback regarding journal activities, as well as being ambassadors for the journal. Based on this success, we have expanded the Community Board, through requesting nominations from our Board members, as well as the wider academic community.

We are now delighted to announce the new and expanded Materials Horizons Community Board. Many of our original Board members from last year are continuing to serve for a second term, and now the Board consists of an international set of 33 researchers at different stages of their early careers, ranging from PhD candidates to Associate Professors.

Read more about our Board members below. We have also introduced the Nanoscale Horizons Community Board, find out more here.

Sarit Agasti
Sarit received his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Calcutta, in 2003 and then his Master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur in 2005. Sarit went on to receive his PhD from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst under the supervision of Professor Vincent M. Rotello. Since his PhD, he has been a Postdoctoral Fellow at both the Massachusetts General hospital-Harvard Medical School and the Wyss Institute at Harvard University working with Professor Ralph Weissleder and Professor Peng Yin, respectively. Sarit has now returned to India and is working as a Faculty fellow at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research. His lab is interested in engineering small molecules and programmable molecular materials to address challenges in bioimaging, specifically in super-resolution microscopy.
Athina Anastasaki
Athina received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. She then undertook a PhD in Polymer Chemistry at the University of Warwick under the supervision of Professor David Haddleton. She then undertook the position of a Monash-Warwick Alliance Research Fellow in the research groups of Professor David Haddleton and Professor Thomas Davis, focusing on controlled living radical polymerization methods, mechanistic studies, photochemistry and sequence-controlled polymers. Currently, she is an Elings Fellow working alongside Professor Hawker at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).
Maartje Bastings
Maartje Bastings studied Biomedical Engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and graduated Cum Laude in the group of Prof. E. W. (Bert) Meijer, where she continued her Ph.D. program funded by a Toptalent Fellowship from the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO). Her research focused on the understanding of multivalent binding mechanisms for directed targeting and the development of supramolecular biomaterials. She was awarded the University Academic Award in 2013 for best Ph.D. thesis at the TU/e. She moved to the Wyss Institute of Harvard University in Boston as a NWO Rubicon and Human Frontier Science Program postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Prof. William M. Shih. She studies DNA as a programmable biomaterial to design immune responses and assemble into multimodal nanoparticles. In January 2017 she will start as tenure track Assistant Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at EPFL, Switzerland.
Read more »
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AsiaNANO poster prize winners

Congratulations to the poster prize winners at the Asian Conferene on Nanoscience & Nanotechnology which took place from the 10th – 13th October in Sapporo, Japan. The conference was attended by 330 participants from over 10 different countries. There were 79 oral (31 invited) and 182 poster presentations. Materials Horizons and Nanoscale Horizons provided sponsorship in the form of poster prizes which were handed to the following winners:

Chee Leng Lay (University of Singapore) for her poster titled: Transformative Two-Dimensional Array Configurations by Geometrical Shape-shifting Protein Microstructures, Ryo Iida (Hokkaido University): Thermoresponsive assembly of gold nanospheres and nanorods, Satoshi Nakamura (Hokkaido University): Immobilization of AuNRs by assistance of a DNA brush and Zhepeng Zhang (Peking University): Direct Chemical Vapor Deposition Growth of MoS2/h-BN van der Waals Heterostructures on Au Foils.

The conference included recent hot topics on chemical and physical aspects of nanostructures as well as their fabrication and characterization technologies with its main focus on revolutionary approaches and results developed newly in nanochemistry and nanomaterials for the last two years. Further information can be found on the website.

Poster prize winners

Poster prize winners with Professor Masahiko Hara of Tokyo Institute of Technology/RIKEN (far left).

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A laser “writing” method for easily adjustable and complex 3D structures – a new HOT article

Different 3D structures created

Photographs of different 3D shapes generated from the same stretched Nafion/PDA films treated with a NIR laser with different facular region shapes.

A new and highly adaptable way to make 3D structures in a wide range of different shapes has been reported in a new HOT article, published in Materials Horizons. The technique allows adjustment of both the shape transition process and the final shape at the same time.

The strategy, which Jian Ji’s group at Zhejiang University describe as a “writing” process, uses polymer nanosheets as blank “paper”. These are guided into making specific shape changes with a near infra-red laser beam “pen”. By controlling which shape changes happen at which time, several sheets can be woven together into a complex interlocking structure. Unlike previous techniques, the order of these changes can be easily altered to change the interlocking pattern.

Ji’s group used pre-stretched composite sheets of Nafion, a shape memory polymer, and polydopamine. When a NIR laser was applied to specific parts of the nanosheet, the polydopamine converted the light energy into heat. This caused internal stress between the heated and non-heated parts, triggering a shape transition of the sheet to relieve the stress. Changing the shape or intensity of the laser beam or where it was applied modulated the shape change, giving rise to a huge number of possible shapes.

Because the nanosheets don’t require special pretreatment before forming each particular shape, a variety of shapes can be made from the same starting material in quick succession. The technique could in future be used to make “personalised” components for the healthcare industry.

Read the full article here:
A ‘‘writing’’ strategy for shape transition with infinitely adjustable shaping sequences and in situ tunable 3D structures
Tingting Chen, Huan Li, Zuhong Li, Qiao Jin and Jian Ji
Mater. Horiz., 2016, DOI: 10.1039/C6MH00295A

Susannah May is a guest web writer for the RSC Journal blogs. She currently works in the Publishing Department of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and has a keen interest in biology and biomedicine, and the frontiers of their intersection with chemistry. She can be found on Twitter using @SusannahCIMay.

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Top 10 Reviewers for Materials Horizons

In celebration of Peer Review Week, with the theme of Recognition for Review – we would like to highlight the top 10 reviewers for Materials Horizons in 2016, as selected by the editor for their significant contribution to the journal.

Professor Markus Antonietti, University of Potsdam
Dr Michael Bozlar, Princeton University
Professor Bruno Chaudret, INSA
Dr Albert Scenning, Eindhoven University
Dr Xavier Moya, University of Cambridge
Dr Renato Bozio, University of Padua
Dr Jinping Li, Taiyuan University of Technology
Dr Alessandro Troisi, University of Warwick
Dr Seung Hwan Ko, Seoul National University
Professor Christine Luscombe, University of Washington

We would like to say a massive thank you to these reviewers as well as the Materials Horizon board and all of the materials science community for their continued support of the journal, as authors, reviewers and readers.


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HOT article: Thermally reversible full color selective reflection in a self-organized helical superstructure enabled by a bent-core oligomesogen exhibiting a twist-bend nematic phase

Written by Susannah May

Fig. 1 Chemical structure of the bent-core oligomesogen 1 exhibiting different phases

A new helical superstructure that reflects light across the whole visible system has been reported in a new HOT article. The structure can be tuned to reflect light from ultraviolet through to near infra-red, in a wide temperature range. 

Liquid crystals are intriguing materials which have properties of both liquids and crystals. They have found uses in many day-to-day applications, such as flat-screen televisions, but much about them, and the many phases they can exhibit, remain unknown.

Quan Li’s group, at State Kent University, had previously designed a new achiral liquid crystal trimer with a twist-bend nematic phase. In this experiment they doped it into a chiral liquid crystal (CLC) to see what effect it would have. As expected, adding the trimer increased the CLC’s chirality, forming a helical structure. More surprisingly, it also increased the temperature range of the liquid crystal phase, proportionally with the concentration of trimer added. What’s more, the resulting superstructure reflected light across the whole visible spectrum. The specific wavelength reflected could be reversibly tuned by adjusting the temperature, meaning the structure could reflect different colours of light at different temperatures.

The group think that strong molecular interactions between the CLC molecule and rod-like units of the trimer cause the effect. In future the superstructure could be used to make colour-display thermometers, and demonstrates the potential of doped liquid crystal systems in obtaining new fascinating properties.

Read the full article here:
Thermally reversible full color selective reflection in a self-organized helical superstructure enabled by a bent-core oligomesogen exhibiting a twist-bend nematic phase
Yuan Wang, Zhi-gang Zheng, Hari Krishna Bisoyi, Karla G. Gutierrez-Cuevas, Ling Wang, Rafael S. Zola and Quan Li
Mater. Horiz., 2016, DOI: 10.1039/C6MH00101G

Susannah May is a guest web writer for the RSC Journal blogs. She currently works in the Publishing Department of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and has a keen interest in biology and biomedicine, and the frontiers of their intersection with chemistry. She can be found on Twitter using @SusannahCIMay.

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