Materials & Innovations

Building with nature: Fungi show promise as green construction material

By Lisa McDonald / September 26, 2023

More and more companies and organizations are considering the potential of mycelium, the root-like structure of most fungi, as a green construction material. Today’s CTT spotlights several recent innovations in this area.

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Video: Ensuring water access in arid environments—pilot fog catcher system simultaneously collects and cleans water

By Lisa McDonald / September 6, 2023

Fog catching provides people living in dry but foggy areas with a stable water source. But air pollution can make the collected water unsafe for use unless it is treated. Researchers led by ETH Zurich developed a system for simultaneously harvesting and cleaning the water collected from fog nets.

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Video: SiC chips make inroads in the automotive industry

By Lisa McDonald / August 23, 2023

Silicon carbide-based semiconductor chips are starting to be embraced by automotive manufacturers looking to overcome the limitations of traditional silicon. To prepare for an expected surge in demand for SiC electronics, several semiconductor manufacturers have announced plans to construct new or expand existing fabrication facilities.

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Black silicon wafers significantly improve efficiency of ultrathin solar cells

By Lisa McDonald / August 22, 2023

Reducing the thickness of silicon wafers in solar cells below 40 μm typically results in decreased performance. Using black silicon for the wafer, however, which has a textured surface structure, can improve the wafer’s absorption capabilities. Researchers in Spain and Finland demonstrated this improvement by using ultrathin black silicon wafers to create interdigitated back-contact solar cells.

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Plane protection: Alumina and titania improve the corrosion resistance of thermal barrier coatings to molten glass

By Lisa McDonald / August 18, 2023

Thermal barrier coatings protect engine components from extreme heat, but they can be damaged by the dust that gets sucked in and turned into molten glass. Previous studies found yttria-stabilized zirconia coatings doped with alumina and titania demonstrated improved corrosion resistance against this molten glass. Now, researchers in Turkey explored whether these additives could improve the resistance of ceria-stabilized coatings as well.

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Video: Augmented reality device offers real-time subtitles during everyday conversations

By Lisa McDonald / August 9, 2023

The expansion of real-time translation apps is bringing the benefits of subtitles to real-life conversations. In February 2023, the integration of these apps into everyday dialogue took a step forward with the beta release of a new product called TranscribeGlass, which attaches to your glasses and projects real-time captions in front of your eyes.

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High-throughput automated testing platform saves time and energy by placing dozens of samples on same substrate

By Lisa McDonald / July 28, 2023

Automating experiments can help speed up the materials development process. Researchers led by North Carolina State University developed a new high-throughput automated testing system that deposits multiple samples on the same substrate, thus saving time and energy.

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Hands-free defect engineering: Electric fields control motion of ceramic dislocations without need for mechanical loading

By Lisa McDonald / July 25, 2023

While some studies have demonstrated that electric fields and light exposure can affect the motion of dislocations in ceramics, the principal driving force of motion in these cases was mechanical stress. Now, an international group of researchers showed dislocation motion in a single-crystalline zinc sulfide can be controlled using only an external electric field.

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Perovskite solar cells charge ahead to record-breaking efficiencies

By Lisa McDonald / July 21, 2023

The potential of perovskites as a photovoltaic material, both in combination with silicon and alone, is gaining steam. This CTT overviews some of the biggest advancements in this field in recent months.

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Video: Cadmium telluride solar technology gains momentum

By Lisa McDonald / July 5, 2023

Cadmium telluride solar cells are the second most common photovoltaic technology globally after crystalline silicon. Today’s CTT looks at recent funding initiatives and commercial expansions to accelerate the impact of this maturing technology.

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