-- Keep an eye out for three new Internet startups. One is called iSolve.com, and it plans a March launch of a Web site where companies can buy or sell surplus inventories, excess manufacturing capacity, and other underutilized assets. Another newcomer with an industrial slant is TheSupply.com. It will specialize in handling materials and spare parts for making printed-circuit boards and chips. It plans to be online in April. And any day now, Comdisco will announce a site where electronics companies can buy and sell used equipment. Last year, using traditional methods, Comdisco "remarketed" equipment worth $60 million.
-- Need a magnet that's light and moldable, one that you can actually "tune" to different strengths? Researchers at the University of Toronto may soon have it. In the Feb. 25 issue of Science, they describe early results of mixing iron particles and polymers to produce a magnetic ceramic that can be heated and poured into molds. After the molded shape has solidified, its magnetic strength can be adjusted with a simple heat treatment. This softens the magnet, allowing the iron particles to move around and form clusters. To tailor magnetic strength, just raise or lower the heat. At higher temperatures, the iron moves more freely and gathers into larger clumps, which have stronger magnetism.