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Current Issue: February 2007

   We had such a good response to the materials modelling issue of 2006 that we decided to try the topic again this year. This time around we take a look at models of crashworthiness, examining the issues involved in designing composite structures for energy absorption, and the added complexity of impact and crash analysis when composites are involved.
   We learn how the automotive industry is changing from a CAD centred approach, concentrating on product geometry, to a CAEapproach, using analysis software to simulate expected performance. There is also coverage of the Institute’s Materials Chemistry Committee, or the Alloy Phase Diagram Committee as it was previously known.
   A research team led by the University of Exeter, UK, recently reported that an obscure species of beetle could teach us how to produce brilliant white ultra-thin materials. The Cyphochilus beetle has an unusual brilliant white shell due to its surface structure. The insect’s scales are ten times thinner than a human hair, and industrial mineral coatings, for paper or plastics, would need to be twice as thick to be so white. The beetle is covered in long flat scales, which have highly random internal 3D structures – these irregular forms result in its uniquely effective light scattering. By balancing the size of the structures with the spacing between them, they scatter white light far more efficiently than the fibres in white paper.
   This is, of course, not the only example of biomimetics in materials. The news section describes a possible new onestep process to manufacture optical devices, based on the wings of a butterfly. The news also covers a method of imaging tumours.
   The Institute news section takes a look at 40 years of the Younger Members Committee and the forthcoming Starpack Awards. We also preview a new tribology journal to be published this year by the Institute and Maney Publishing.

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