Category Polymers

In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

POLYMERS | NANOPARTICLES | MATERIALS SCIENCE

Fluorinated Coating is Utterly Repellent

Scientists have created a super-omniphobic material containing polymer nanoparticles that form a highly texture surface trapping tiny air pockets that then repel liquids. Due to its unique chemistry and texture, this new repellent coating can rebuff oils and organic solvents, stay dry in water, heal itself after damage, withstand high temperatures and harsh acids, and much more. [C&EN]

BIOLOGY

The Human Cell Atlas is Biologists’ Latest Grand Project

The cell is the basic unit of life and has captivated scientists for hundreds of years. Until just the last few years, the technology to explore the inner workings of individual cells did not exist. Now that it does, an ambitious project, the Human Cell Atlas is underway with plans to catalog the 37 trillion cells that make up the human body. If successful, this map of cells could one day be instrumental in helping us better understand and treat diseases. [WIRED]

FIBER OPTICS | INTERNET

‘Twisted’ Fiber Optic Light Breakthrough Could Make Internet 100 times Faster

Fiber optic cables use pulses of light to transmit information, but engineers have created a new dimension for light to carry this info by twisting the light itself into a spiral. And with the creation of a tiny new detector to read the spiraled light, a faster and more efficient Internet could soon be headed our way. [THE GUARDIAN]

WWII | IONOSPHERE

Shockwaves from WWII Bombing Raids Rippled the Edges of Space

Scientists have long been aware that natural phenomena such as cloud to ground lightning strikes and solar flares have an observable and measurable effect on Earth’s atmosphere. But a new study published in Annales Geophysicae documents the similar effects that bombs dropped during WWII had on our ionosphere. Scientists hope the work will help more accurately predict communication-disrupting ionospheric disturbances in the future. [NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC]

3D PRINTING | TECHNOLOGY | INNOVATION

French Family Just Became the First to Permanently Live in a 3D Printed Home

This summer, a family of five moved into a 1,022 square foot home that was printed in 54 hours. The home, located in Nantes, France, features wheelchair access, smartphone controlled appliances, and walls made up of insulating polyurethane with cement filling between the layers. Other advances in architectural 3D printing from around the world are also covered. [BUSINESS INSIDER]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

POLYMERS | PACKAGING | FOOD & BEVERAGE

Model Predicts Polymer Food Packaging’s Propensity for Absorbing Aroma Molecules from Their Contents

Packaging materials used to store products are a significant source of food and beverage flavor loss. Adapting a well-known model of polymer properties, researchers at A*STAR and Coca-Cola developed a mathematical model that can describe the mixing behavior of polymers with organic compounds and could lead to better tasting foods. [PHYS ORG]

DISRUPTION | TESLA | PODCAST

Tesla and the Nature of Disruption

In the context of an interesting discussion about whether Tesla is disruptive, Benedict Evans and Steven Sinofsky deliver a great overview of opportunity ecosystems in general. If you’ve ever wondered whether you are considering all the right factors when you have a new product idea, this provides high-level answers. [A16Z]

PHYSICS | COSMIC RAYS

Bizarre Particles Keep Flying Out of Antarctica’s Ice and They Might Shatter Modern Physics

A previously unknown and undetected high-energy particle has been making its way up through the frozen ground in Antarctica and blasting into space. What we know of cosmic rays is that they in fact, do the opposite, usually shooting down from space to enter Earth. So what exactly is this mysterious particle? That’s what physicists are working to figure out. [SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN]

NANOWIRES | SOUND

This Flexible Nanomembrane Loudspeaker Attaches to Skin and Plays a Violin Concerto

Researchers in South Korea have developed a hybrid nanomembrane that emits sound waves when fed with sound frequency electric currents. Using silver nanowires, a thin, flexible, and transparent membrane could act as a loud speaker as well as a microphone. We could all soon carry our own loudspeakers wherever we go, not in our bags or pockets, but on our skin. [INTERESTING ENGINEERING]

WIKIPEDIA | INFOGRAPHIC

WIKIGALAXY

A fascinating, three-dimensional visualization of the Wikipedia “galaxy:” 100,000 articles grouped into 500 thematic nebulas with the ability to fly across the galaxy following links from one article to the next. [WIKI]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.


We’re excited to announce the launch of GrowthPilot Insights, a series of white papers that grew out of our work on thousands of new product development projects. The papers distill what we’ve learned into simple principles and practical steps that any company can follow. The intro and the first paper at the link; others will follow in the coming months.

GrowthPilot Insights


POLYMERS | MANUFACTURING

New Polymer Manufacturing Process Saves 10 Orders of Magnitude of Energy

Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a new polymer-curing process that uses 10 orders of magnitude less energy and can cut two orders of magnitudes of time over the current manufacturing process. “This development marks what could be the first major advancement to the high-performance polymer and composite manufacturing industry in almost half a century,” said aerospace engineering professor and lead author Scott White. The findings, reported in Nature, describe a frontal polymerization method which uses the internal energy of the polymerization process—rather than external energy—to propagate the reaction and cure the material. [UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS]

INNOVATION | PODCAST

How to Think 10x Bigger (In Just 10 Minutes)

A short, tight talk by Dr. Astro Teller, CEO of X, Alphabet’s arm tasked with bringing its most audacious, difficult ideas to life. If you need to move truly new, technically demanding ideas off the drawing board and into the world, his description of how to run the teams attacking these challenges is as good as you will find anywhere. And it only takes about 10 minutes. You can stream the talk directly from the link, and—if you want to skip the intro—start at the 3:00 minute mark. [THE TIM FERRIS SHOW]

OCEAN SCIENCES | SENSORS | DRONES

This Man Is Building an Armada of Saildrones to Conquer the Ocean

Despite the ocean’s size and value, resources to study it are scant, and most of our data about global seas come from satellite readings and a smattering of sensor-equipped buoys. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is among the field’s best-funded research organizations and has all of 16 science ships, complemented by another 16 from university fleets. Australia has only one serious research vessel. Richard Jenkins is trying to change all this with his venture-backed startup, Saildrone Inc. [BLOOMBERG]

NUCLEAR POWER | ENERGY

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors Move a Step Closer to Deployment

As a follow-up to the story on Thorium reactors we included two weeks ago, the first small modular reactor (SMR)—designed by UK-based NuScale Power—passed its Phase 1 review by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in late April. The SMR is designed to replace the one or more giant reactors in current nuclear power plants with smaller modular ones that can be assembled at a central facility and then shipped to the site for installation. [NEW ATLAS]

MATERIAL SCIENCE | BIOLOGY

Is Fungus the Material of the Future?

Fungus and slippers are two words that most people don’t want to read in the same sentence. However, scientists in the Netherlands are one step closer to changing people’s perceptions by creating everyday objects like chairs, lampshades and slippers using fungi—specifically oyster mushrooms. If you want to learn more and have 11 minutes to spare, there is an interesting video on the technology here. [SMITHSONIAN | MOTHERBOARD]

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In the course of our research for clients across many industries and fields, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we deliver five interesting things we came across during the preceding weeks. And no filler.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Nokia and Vodafone Will Bring 4G to the Moon

With upcoming, non-governmental space missions delivering two new rovers to the lunar surface, Nokia and Vodafone are partnering to create a 4G base-station on the moon. The Vodafone station will use Nokia hardware to communicate more seamlessly with the rovers as well as stream high-def video back to Earth. [ENGADGET]

BATTERY CHEMISTRY

Investment in Lithium-ion Technologies May Crowd Out Future Innovation

This article highlights how the growth of lithium-ion-based battery infrastructure is creating technological lock-in: in spite of known thermal hazards and the impracticality of lithium-ion for powering airplanes and large trucks, chemistries beyond lithium-ion are facing higher barriers to entry and, thus, less commercial interest. The article suggests policymakers need to respond to lithium-ion lock-in by promoting research and development in high energy density alternatives, like aluminium-air or lithium-sulfur. [BROOKINGS INSTITUTION]

POLYMERS | SUSTAINABILITY

Lego Bricks to Be Made from Plants

Implementing a sustainability roadmap developed in 2015, the Danish manufacturer began production of Lego blocks from bio-based polyethylene. Beginning with the plant-like tree and leaf Lego pieces, the move from ABS to more sustainable materials will start small but looks to provide a different meaning and a sustainable future for “block polymers.” [CHEMICAL & ENGINEERING NEWS]

COMPUTING | BIOMEDICAL DEVICES

Biocomputer and Memory Built Inside Living Bacteria

Reporting on two separate feats in bioengineering, this article recaps original research in which the DNA of e.coli was manipulated to store data and, indirectly, perform basic logic functions. Researchers at Harvard archived a 36×26 pixel GIF in the e.coli DNA and then were able to retrieve the GIF with 90% efficiency and obviously recognizable form. Separately but concurrently at Harvard, a synthetic strand of DNA introduced to e.coli directed the cell to produce a RNA-based “computer” capable of basic logic and programming. [IEEE SPECTRUM]

INNOVATION | CORPORATE STRATEGY

The Five New Forces In Innovation Strategy

The article summarizes some key topics from the Drucker Forum 2017 with a focus on the five new forces outlined by Lean Start-Up pioneer Steve Blank. In addition to discussing the five forces, the article notes the importance of avoiding “innovation theater” by maintaining a healthy innovation pipeline with measured results. [FORBES]

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