Americans generate nearly 300 million scrap tires every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Historically, these worn tires often end up in landfills or, when illegally dumped, become breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes and rodents. They also pose a potential fire hazard.
Heating a sheet of plastic may not bring it to life – but it sure looks like it does in new experiments at Rice University. The materials created by Rice polymer scientist Rafael Verduzco and his colleagues start as flat slabs, but they morph into shapes that can be controlled by patterns written into their layers.
Electric current sufficient to light a string of LEDs, activate an e-paper display or even trigger action by a computer can be generated by tapping or rubbing simple, flexible generators made of paper, thin sheets of plastic and other everyday materials, researchers at Disney Research, Pittsburgh, have demonstrated.