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Penn engineers show how 'perfect' materials begin to fail

10-Jun-2015

Crystalline materials have atoms that are neatly lined up in a repeating pattern. When they break, that failure tends to start at a defect, or a place where the pattern is disrupted. But how do defect-free materials break?Until recently, the question was purely theoretical; making a defect-free ...

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On the edge of friction

Precise insight into how two microscopic surfaces slide over one another could help in the manufacture of low-friction surfaces

22-Dec-2011

The problem exists on both a large and a small scale, and it even bothered the ancient Egyptians. However, although physicists have long had a good understanding of friction in things like stone blocks being pulled by workers into the shape of a pyramid, they have only now been able to explain ...

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The world’s smallest steam engine

A heat engine measuring only a few micrometres works as well as its larger counterpart, although it splutters

13-Dec-2011

What would be a case for the repair shop for a car engine is completely normal for a micro engine. If it sputters, this is caused by the thermal motions of the smallest particles, which interfere with its running. Researchers at the University of Stuttgart and the Stuttgart-based Max Planck ...

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