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U.S. Army Contemplates High-tech Coatings--How Smart Will They Get?

Self-healing paint systems will save time, money, and the environment; self-diagnosis may be the next step, with self-adaptation the ultimate vision

4 min read

21 July 2004�Someday, drivers will be able to change the color of their cars with the flip of a switch, and paint jobs will perpetually look the way they did the car left the showroom. The basic science underlying these technologies is being worked on today by researchers who have been called on to keep the paint on military vehicles looking brand new.

Their aim, as part of a so-called smart-coating project begun in September 2002 at the U.S. Army's behest, is to produce a polymer-based prototype paint incorporating self-healing by 2005. Participating in the project are the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, the Army's Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal in northwest New Jersey, the Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) in Champaign, Ill., and Clemson University in South Carolina. The researchers are focusing on a way to suspend microcapsules in a primer coat that is applied to a vehicle's surface before it is covered with a protective topcoat. The capsules will remain at the ready, and when the paint is scratched, their contents will spill out, resealing the scratch automatically.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

1 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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