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Published on May 17th, 2017 | By: April Gocha, PhD

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Other materials stories that may be of interest

Published on May 17th, 2017 | By: April Gocha, PhD

[Image above] Credit: NIST

 

NANOMATERIALS

 

Thin-film ferroelectrics go extreme

Scientists have created the first-ever polarization gradient in thin-film ferroelectrics, greatly expanding the range of functional temperatures for a key material used in a variety of everyday applications. The discovery could pave the way for developing devices capable of supporting wireless communications in extreme environments.

 

Scientists print nanoscale imaging probe onto tip of optical fiber

Combining speed with incredible precision, a team of researchers has developed a way to print a nanoscale imaging probe onto the tip of a glass fiber as thin as a human hair, accelerating the production of the promising new device from several per month to several per day.

 

Hexagonal boron nitride could help shape future of nano-electronics

A team of researchers from the Air Force Research Laboratory, Colorado School of Mines, and the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois have developed a novel method for the synthesis of a composite material, hexagonal boron nitride (hBN), that has the potential of vastly improving electronics.

 

Sandwiched between superconductors, graphene adopts exotic electronic states

MIT physicists have found that a flake of graphene, when brought in close proximity with two superconducting materials, can inherit some of those materials’ superconducting qualities. As graphene is sandwiched between superconductors, its electronic state changes dramatically, even at its center.

 

Miniaturised ‘heat engines’ could power nanoscale machines of the future

Research from The University of Manchester has thrown new light on the use of miniaturized ‘heat engines’ that could one day help power nanoscale machines like quantum computers. The research shows that heat engines were inclined to lose performance at the quantum scale due to the way such devices exchange energy with external heat reservoirs.

 

Synthesis of a carbon nanobelt with potential applications in nanotechnology

Chemists have tried to synthesize carbon nanobelts for more than 60 years, but none have succeeded until now. The new nanobelt, measuring 0.83 nm in diameter, was developed by researchers at Nagoya University JST and the Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules.

 

 

ENERGY

 

Is this the ‘holey’ grail of batteries?

In a battery system, electrodes containing porous graphene scaffolding offer a substantial improvement in both the retention and transport of energy, a new study reveals. The researchers overcame this obstacle by incorporating holey graphene into a niobium pentoxide electrode.

 

Quartz powder for the battery of the future

Materials researchers have developed a method that could enable a breakthrough for the lithium-sulphur battery. With their new method, the researchers were able to gain crucial insights into how the rapid capacity loss occurs. They showed that if quartz powder is added to the liquid component of the battery, this loss can be slowed down.

 

Harnessing geometric frustration to tune batteries for greater power

A new generation of higher-powered batteries for phones and cameras could result from ground-breaking research led by scientists at the University of Kent. The team found that a phenomenon known as geometric frustration can be used in this process to increase the charge transport rate in the solid material in a way that is comparable with heating that material.

 

Advanced atomic layer deposition enables lithium-ion battery technology

NREL has entered into an exclusive license agreement with Forge Nano to commercialize patented battery materials and systems capable of operating safely in high-stress environments. The technology encapsulates materials with solid electrolyte coatings that can be designed to meet the increasingly demanding needs of any battery application.

 

Next-gen solar cells could be improved by atomic-scale redesign

Previously, a team of scientists led by Imperial College London discovered that solar cell breakdown is due to the formation of ‘superoxides’ that attack the perovskite material. The team has now determined how the superoxides form and how they attack the perovskite material, and have proposed possible solutions.

 

More efficient catalytic material developed

Scientists at Ames Laboratory have discovered a method for making smaller, more efficient intermetallic nanoparticles for fuel cell applications, which also uses less of the expensive precious metal platinum.

 

‘Switchable’ smart windows reduce energy consumption significantly

Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology have developed reflective windows that are able to reflect invisible infrared light but allow visible light through. In addition these windows can be ‘switched on and off’. This new technology cuts energy consumption for cooling and heating buildings by 12%.

 

Can the motion of checking your smartwatch charge it?

Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) are small devices that convert movement into electricity, and might just be what bring us into an era of energy-harvesting clothes and implants. But could TENGs, even theoretically, give us wearable electronics powered solely by the wearer’s day-to-day body motion?

 

 

ENVIRONMENT

 

Nuke waste debate: Turn it into glass or encase in cement?

Congress should consider authorizing the U.S. Department of Energy to study encasing much of the nuclear waste at the nation’s largest waste repository in a cement-like mixture instead of turning it into glass logs, according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

 

New technology generates power from polluted air

Researchers from the University of Antwerp and University of Leuven, Belgium, have succeeded in developing a process that purifies air and, at the same time, generates power. The device must only be exposed to light in order to function.

 

Power plants could cut a third of their emissions by using solar energy

Led by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, a project has developed a new innovative concept to increase solar energy production in the energy system. The concept is based on the combination of concentrated solar power technology and a traditional power plant process into a hybrid plant that produces electricity on the basis of consumption.

 

 

OTHER RESEARCH

 

Fiber hybridization technology for next generation concrete

Recognizing the need for flexibility in future construction, researchers at the University of Toronto have been working towards identifying potential benefits from combining different fibers and developing models to predict their response.

 

Materials bend as they ‘breathe’ under high temperatures

Carrying out maintenance tasks inside a nuclear plant puts severe strains on equipment, due to extreme temperatures that are hard for components to endure without degrading. Now, researchers at MIT and elsewhere have come up with a radically new way to make actuators that could be used in such extremely hot environments.

 

Stanford team brings quantum computing closer to reality with new materials

Working with collaborators worldwide, Stanford researchers have recently tested three different materials that can trap a single, isolated electron, one of which can operate at room temperature—a critical step if quantum computing is going to become a practical tool.

 

Microscopy technique simultaneously probes subatomic materials in multiple directions

Scientists have developed a new atomic force microscopy technique that can measure the 3-D force fields of atoms. In their technique, the precisely controlled tip of a mechanical arm is moved over a material surface at two different frequencies to provide information about the material surface in both vertical and parallel directions.

 

X-rays from copper source set new gold standard for measuring industrial materials

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have produced and precisely measured a spectrum of X-rays using a new, state-of-the-art machine. The instrument will help scientists working at the agency make some of the world’s most accurate measurements of materials for use in everything from bridges to pharmaceuticals.

 

Cheaper, greener way to grow crystalline semiconductor films

University of Michigan chemists have developed a greener, cheaper way to make single-crystalline semiconductor films, components at the heart of all of our electric gadgetry. The team has invented a method to simultaneously synthesize and deposit crystalline semiconductor films from water at room temperatures using equipment that can be assembled for just a few dollars.

 

New understanding of superconductor’s ‘normal’ state may solve longstanding puzzle

Now experiments done at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in collaboration with researchers at six institutions in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, and Japan, have shed new light on the electronic properties of the unconventional topological superconductor Sr2RuO4.

 

Electrostatic design of materials: A fundamentally new approach

Researchers at TU Graz used computer simulations to propose an entirely new concept for controlling the electronic properties of materials. The group used potentially disturbing influences arising from the regular arrangement of polar elements, so-called collective electrostatic effects, to intentionally manipulate material properties.

 

New fiber-based sensor could quickly detect structural problems in bridges and dams

Today, there is great interest in using distributed sensors to continually monitor the structural health of large structures such as dams or bridges. With 1 million sensing points, a newly developed fiber optic distributed sensor could offer significantly faster detection of structural problems than is currently available.

 


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