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"Atom-Thick" Fibers Will Lead To Amazingly Light Phones, Says Researcher

All thanks to atomic "sewing."

Mixing and matching two seemingly distinct components has led to some of humanity’s greatest inventions. Reinforcing concrete with steel made skyscrapers possible. Stitching together the atoms of various substances has led to composite materials, like carbon fiber and fiberglass, that are used in our phones, cars, and homes.

Now researchers at the University of Chicago have figured out a way to drastically improve the way engineers go about creating these compound materials. In a paper published in the journal Science, Saien Xie and his colleagues were able to seamlessly merge the atoms of two materials together, as if they were just one structure. This is a feat that even the scientists involved were astonished they were able to achieve.

“It is surprising that different atomically-thin crystals can be seamlessly sewed together, atom by atom, without leaving holes at the interface,” Xie tells Inverse. “This is possible because we developed a technique that allows different atomic crystals to grow under the same constant environment with the same high quality.”

This technique allowed for the creation of a flexible and ultra-thin material that electricity can easily pass through. This atom-thick conductive material could be used to make exceptionally light electronic devices, like phones or TV screens. These types of products will become commercially available in less than five years according to Xie.

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A close-up of a small region of the first several top layers of a 3D-printed sheet of hyperelastic bone.

Scientists could also make use of these fabrics to track the change in objects and even microscopic life.

“We are making an ultra-thin, light, and flexible [strain-sensing fabric] which can emit light,” said Xie. “The idea is that you can put these fabrics on any object to monitor its mechanical status by looking at the color of light emitted from the fabrics. In fact, these atomic fabrics are so thin that you can potentially put them on a cell and monitor how [it] expands or shrinks.”

These types of applications weren’t possible before because other techniques used to fuse materials at an atomic level would always leave tiny holes in the final produce, almost like a knitted sweater. Xie’s team results are the most perfectly aligned single-layer materials ever made.

With this technique under their belts, engineers can get wildly creative with embedding electronics on almost any surface. This leaves the door open to sleek touch screens on clothing or even phones as thin as a sheet of paper.

Tesla Model Y Price: Elon Musk Unveils the Long-Awaited $39,000 Electric SUV

After almost four years of anticipation, Tesla unveiled the Model Y Thursday in Los Angeles, and CEO Elon Musk revealed that the all-electric SUV will start at $39,000 with four variants: a Standard Range, Long Range, Dual-Motor All-Wheel Drive, and Performance version, which will have a top speed of 150 miles per hour and cost $60,000.

Tesla Solar Roof: Elon Musk Declares 2019 Will Be the Year of the Roof

The boost follows a tough year, hampered by Tesla Model 3 production.

Tesla is going to focus its efforts on the Solar Roof for the coming year, CEO Elon Musk told an audience Thursday. The company’s energy-collecting tiles, which look like a standard roof to the untrained eye, have wowed onlookers with their sleek design but have so far only made their way to a handful of houses. Based on Musk’s comments, that’s all about to change.

Tesla Model Y: Elon Musk Announces Release Date for Electric SUV

Tesla's next car will debut in March.

Update: The Tesla Model Y has made its debut. Watch the video above to see it roll onto the stage at the Tesla Design Studio in Los Angeles on Thursday, March 14, 2019.

The Long Range version of the Model Y will be available in the fall of 2020, and the starting price is $47,000 for the vehicle that has a 300-mile range and a top speed of 130 mph.

The Best Wireless Earbuds for Audio Quality

What truly wireless earbuds are actually worth your time?

Filed Under Amazon, Apple & Music

While we’ve been well on our way to a truly wireless existence (I’m looking at you, umbilical cord) in almost every facet of our life, the “truly wireless” headphone segment has been dominated by Apple’s AirPods, and for good reason. They’re the headphones to beat when it comes to ease of use, and seemingly every manufacturer is trying to best Apple with their own AirPod alternative.

You Can Save Up to 30 Percent on Your Power Bill With Arcadia Power

Connect to clean, low-cost energy and bring down your power bill for free.

Filed Under Energy & Power

Given the chance, most of us would jump at the opportunity to bring down our power bills. But, there’s a prevailing assumption that doing so involves dealing with steep upfront costs before the savings actually come in. Arcadia Power presents a different solution, however, and it’s willing to give new users $20 off their first utility bill for trying out the platform.