Just like magic, shape-memory materials have the ability to be transformed into another shape and then return to their original shape—or in some cases even metamorphose into a third shape before returning to their original shape. This transformation is possible because the crystalline structure of shape-memory alloys allows them to sense and respond to their environment. Shape-memory transformation behavior can now be created by thermal, light, or chemical environments. Shape-memory alloys have been used by the research community for well over a decade to accomplish tasks that were not possible otherwise.
Department of Energy (DOE) researchers and their collaborators continued to make significant progress throughout 2015 in the emerging field of spintronics, also known as magnetic electronics. Spintronics could change conventional electronics by using the spin of electrons to store information in solid state devices rather than, or in addition to, the transport of the electrical charge of electrons. This new technology addresses many of the challenges of conventional electronics because it allows for transfer of information from one place to another using much less energy, essentially generating no heat, and requiring little space. The field of spintronics is rapidly advancing and opportunities at the frontiers of spintronics are immense.
A remarkable engine now called the Stirling engine was developed and patented in 1816 by a 25-year-old Scottish clergyman named Robert Stirling. Stirling was devoted to the clergy but inherited a love of engineering from his father and his grandfather, who was the inventor of the threshing machine. Some historians believe that Robert invented his new engine to replace the dangerous steam engines of that time. Even though the Stirling engine was utilized in small, domestic projects, it was never developed for common use and was eventually overtaken by cheaper and more efficient versions of the steam engine and small, internal combustion engines.
For the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) to fulfill our mission to “advance science and sustain technological creativity by making R&D findings available and useful to Department of Energy researchers and the public,” it’s important to have an information technology (IT) infrastructure up to the task of performing 40 million human transactions per year, which requires 24/7/365 availability. At OSTI, we take pride in delivering high-availability systems, which translates to consistently reliable web-based services available at full capacity to our end users. We work to minimize any downtime in the availability of our vast electronic scientific collections, but in case you have ever experienced that rare occasion when a product wasn’t available, we would like to explain what happens “behind the curtain” during scheduled maintenance windows.
Microbes – bacteria, fungi, protozoa, algae, and viruses – are the engines of life. Microbiomes or microbe communities account for 60% of living matter and are the most diverse life form on earth. The problem is that very little is understood about microbes and how they relate to our planet. For a long time, microbes have had a bad reputation. Bad microbes, better known as “germs,” have caused infectious diseases such as the bubonic plague, malaria, polio, HIV, and Ebola. Advances in gene-sequencing technology have expanded our knowledge of microbiomes. Once thought to be only harmful, scientists now know that we cannot live without microbes.