For polar bears, the insulation provided by their fat, skin, and fur is a matter of survival in the frigid Arctic. For engineers, polar bear hair is a dream template for synthetic materials that might lock in heat just as well as the natural version. Now, materials scientists in China have developed such an insulator,
Gearing up for its first flight test, NASA’s Adaptable Deployable Entry Placement Technology, or ADEPT, is no ordinary umbrella. ADEPT is a foldable device that opens to make a round, rigid heat shield, called an aeroshell. This game-changing technology could squeeze a heat shield into a rocket with a diameter larger than the rocket itself.
Researchers have found a way to make ultralight sponge-like materials from nanoscale ceramic fibers. The highly porous, compressible and heat-resistant sponges could have numerous uses, from water purification devices to flexible insulating materials. “The basic science question we tried to answer is how can we make a material that’s highly deformable but resistant to high