A team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers has demonstrated the 3D printing of shape-shifting structures that can fold or unfold to reshape themselves when exposed to heat or electricity. The micro-architected structures were fabricated from a conductive, environmentally responsive polymer ink developed at the Lab.
In an article published recently by the journal Scientific Reports, Lab scientists and engineers revealed a strategy for creating boxes, spirals and spheres from shape memory polymers (SMPs), bio-based “smart” materials that exhibit shape-changes when resistively heated or when exposed to the appropriate temperature.
In the paper, the researchers describe creating primary shapes from an ink made from soybean oil, additional co-polymers and carbon nanofibers, and “programming” them into a temporary shape at an engineered temperature, determined by chemical composition. Then the shape-morphing effect was induced by ambient heat or by heating the material with an electrical current, which reverts the part’s temporary shape back to its original shape.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) founded by the University of California in 1952.
It is primarily funded by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and managed and operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS), a partnership of the University of California, Bechtel, Babcock & Wilcox, URS, and Battelle Memorial Institute in affiliation with the Texas A&M University System. The laboratory was honored in 2012 by having the synthetic chemical element livermorium named after it.
LLNL is self-described as “a premier research and development institution for science and technology applied to national security.” Its principal responsibility is ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons through the application of advanced science, engineering and technology. The Laboratory also applies its special expertise and multidisciplinary capabilities to preventing the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction, bolstering homeland security and solving other nationally important problems, including energy and environmental security, basic science and economic competitiveness.
LLNL is home to many unique facilities and a number of the most powerful computer systems in the world, according to the TOP500 list, including Blue Gene/L, the world’s fastest computer from 2004 until Los Alamos National Laboratory’s IBM Roadrunner supercomputer surpassed it in 2008. On June 18, 2012, LLNL re-took the lead on the latest edition of the list of the world’s Top 500 supercomputers with IBM Sequoia, a 16.32 petaflops system packing more than 1.5 million custom Power cores. It is based on the same IBM BlueGene/Q architecture used in three other top ten systems which also were the most power efficient on the list. Since 1978, LLNL has received a total of 118 R&D 100 Awards, including five in 2007. The awards are given annually by the editors of R&D Magazine to the most innovative ideas of the year.
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Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have created new kinds of fluorescent lighting phosphors that use far less rare-earth elements than current technology.
Rare-earth elements are hard to come by. The United States has access to a limited amount of rare-earth elements and relies on imports.
Today the phosphors in fluorescent lighting consume more than 1,000 metric tons of rare-earth oxides yearly, including europium (Eu), terbium (Tb), cerium (Ce) and lanthanum (La), as well as even larger amounts of yttrium (Y) oxide.
While LED lighting will likely replace fluorescent tubes eventually, low-cost linear fluorescent lighting is expected to remain a dominant feature in the U.S. infrastructure for more than a decade.
Therefore it is necessary to replace the current triphosphor blend discovered more than 30 years ago (based on a mixture of blue, green and red emitters) because of its high rare earth consumption.
The GE, LLNL and ORNL team, funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and working with the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) at Ames Laboratory, have identified a green phosphor, which reduces the Tb content by 90 percent and eliminates La, while the new red phosphor eliminates both Eu and Y and is rare-earth free.
These proposed phosphors appear to be close to meeting stringent requirements of long lamp survivability, high efficiency, precise color rendition and low-cost; the blue phosphor has inherently low rare-earth content and need not be replaced.
“The fundamental physics of these phosphors is compelling, and we are taking the next steps to assess their feasibility for commercial lighting by evaluating chemical issues such as slurry compatibility and improving the synthetic procedures,” said Steve Payne, the CMI thrust leader on the project.
Read more: Better fluorescent lighting through physics