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Published on October 18th, 2017 | By: April Gocha, PhD

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Other materials stories that may be of interest

Published on October 18th, 2017 | By: April Gocha, PhD

[Images above] Credit: NIST

 

 

NANOMATERIALS

 

Ultraflat magnets: Atom-thick alloys with unanticipated magnetic properties

Substituting atoms in the process of making 2-D alloys not only allows them to be customized for applications but also can make them magnetic, according to Rice University scientists and their collaborators.

 

Building a barrier against oxidation

2-D materials could underpin a novel family of flexible, low-power electronic devices, but their success depends on ensuring the layers are chemically stable. A*STAR researchers now show that one 2-D material, phosphorene, can be stabilized with the right choice of substrate and an electric field.

 

Injecting electrons jolts 2-D structure into new atomic pattern

Electrostatic charge could be an efficient way to drive atomically thin electronic memory devices of the future, according to a new study. Scientists have found a way to reversibly change the atomic structure of a 2-D material by injecting it with electrons. The process uses far less energy than current methods for changing the configuration of a material’s structure.

 

MOFs: A new miniature solution for storing renewable energy

One candidate material that can catalyze a revolution in renewable energy harvesting and storage is metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). Their biggest drawback has been their lack of conductivity—but it turns out that MOFs can conduct electricity in the same way metals do.

 

 

ENERGY

 

A Stanford battery based on sodium may offer more cost-effective storage than lithium

Industrial forecasts predict an insatiable need for battery farms to store renewable energy like solar and wind. Lithium-ion batteries may remain tops for sheer performance, but when cost-per-storage is factored in, a Stanford design based on sodium ions offers promise.

 

Solar energy: Prototype shows how tiny photodetectors can double their efficiency

Physicists have developed a photodetector to produce quantum mechanical processes that could revolutionize the way solar energy is collected. The researchers stacked two atomic layers of tungsten diselenide on a single atomic layer of molybdenum diselenide, which results in properties vastly different from those of the parent layers.

 

Batteries of the future: Low-cost battery from waste graphite

Lithium ion batteries are flammable and the price of the raw material is rising. Are there alternatives? Yes: Empa and ETH Zürich researchers have discovered promising approaches as to how we might produce batteries out of waste graphite and scrap metal.

 

Storage is renewable energy’s greatest challenge—this low-cost sulfur battery may help

Motivated by the challenge to drastically reduce the cost of storing renewable energy on the grid while capturing more of it, a group of scientists has developed a battery powered by sulfur, air, water, and salt that is nearly 100 times less expensive to produce than batteries currently on the market and can store twice as much energy as a lead-acid battery.

 

Organic/inorganic sulfur may be key for safe rechargeable lithium batteries

We have come a long way from leaky sulfur-acid automobile batteries, but modern lithium batteries still have some down sides. Now a team of Penn State engineers have a different type of lithium sulfur battery that could be more efficient, less expensive and safer.

 

Mimicking two natural energy processes with a single catalyst

Researchers take inspiration from natural chemical processes based on hydrogenase and photosystem II, to produce a single metal catalyst with both fuel cell and solar cell functionalities. The combination of these two processes into one system suggests great potential for biologically inspired energy generation technologies.

 

 

ENVIRONMENT

 

How activated carbon could get toxins out of soil

New research from Michigan State University has shown for the first time that activated carbon—a substance widely used in water purification—can help eliminate the health risks associated with soils, sediments and surface water polluted by highly toxic dioxins.

 

Electric cars can become more eco-friendly through life cycle assessment

It is time to stop discussing whether electric cars are good or bad. Instead industry, authorities and policy-makers need to work together to make them as eco-friendly as possible. One researcher from Chalmers University of Technology now provides concrete advice and tools showing how life cycle assessment can assist in the development of electric cars.

 

 

OTHER RESEARCH

 

Segregation-induced ordered superstructures at general grain boundaries in a Ni-Bi alloy

Randomly selected, high-angle, general grain boundaries in a nickel-bismuth polycrystalline alloy can undergo interfacial reconstruction to form ordered superstructures, a discovery that enriches the theories and fundamental understandings of both grain boundary segregation and liquid metal embrittlement in physical metallurgy.

 

Scientists stick to a new efficient magnet

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have developed a new, more efficient permanent magnet that removes the deficiencies of conventional samarium and neodymium magnets. The proposed magnet stems from the well-known samarium and cobalt magnet, but goes a step further and substitutes most of the cobalt with iron and nickel.

 

Arrangement of atoms is main source of increased entropy during transition in metallic glasses

A team led by Caltech recently solved a decades-old materials science mystery by tracking down the origin of entropy in metallic glasses. The team focused on distinguishing between the amount of “configurational entropy” and “vibrational entropy”—the two main sources of entropy in most materials—in metallic glasses.

 

Researchers image perfectly smooth side-surfaces of 3-D silicon crystals

A research collaboration for the first time used scanning tunneling microscopy to create images of atomically flat side-surfaces of 3-D silicon crystals. This work helps semiconductor manufacturers continue to innovate while producing smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient computer chips for computers and smartphones.

 

When a porous solid retains its properties in liquid form

Known for their exceptional porosity that enables the trapping or transport of molecules, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) take the form of a powder, which makes them difficult to format. For the first time, scientists have evidenced the surprising ability of a type of MOF to retain its porous properties in the liquid and then glass state.

 

Engineers develop a programmable ‘camouflaging’ material inspired by octopus skin

Engineers at Cornell University report on their invention of stretchable surfaces with programmable 3-D texture morphing, a synthetic “camouflaging skin” inspired by studying and modeling the real thing in octopus and cuttlefish.

 


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