According to the latest government projections, the United States is poised to produce more electricity from renewable energy than from coal for the first time on record, thanks, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite efforts by the Trump administration to renew coal usage over the past three years, demand has plummeted as factories, retailers, restaurants and office buildings have shut down in the wake of state-wide stay-at-home orders. The Energy Information Administration predicts that the nation’s overall coal consumption will fall by almost 25% this year. “Because coal plants often cost more to operate than gas plants or renewables, many utilities are cutting back on coal power first in response,” writes Brad Plumer in the New York Times. “Coal plants are expected to provide just 19 percent of the nation’s electricity, dropping for the first time below both nuclear power and renewable power, a category that includes wind, solar, hydroelectric dams, geothermal and biomass.” [New York Times]

Inspired by the regeneration of lizard tails and starfish limbs, researchers from the Islam Research Group, the Morphing Matter Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, and the Kawahara Lab at the University of Tokyo have developed a self-healing soft-bodied interface that can “reconfigure and fuse without external stimuli or glue,” according to the group. Made of a self-healing polymer and a filler material of multi-walled carbon nanotubes, the material can be used to make devices with self-healing, sensing, and actuation capabilities. [Morphing Matter Lab]