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[Image credit: NIST]

Nanostructured metal-oxide catalyst efficiently converts CO2 to methanol

Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered a new catalytic system for converting carbon dioxide (CO2) to methanol—a key commodity used to create a wide range of industrial chemicals and fuels. With significantly higher activity than other catalysts now in use, the new system could make it easier to get normally unreactive CO2 to participate in these reactions.

Thin diamond films provide new material for micro-machines

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory and a handful of other institutions around the world have directed their focus to exploring MEMS made of a relatively new material known as ultrananocrystalline diamond—smooth and wear-resistant diamond thin films. The researchers were able to tune intrinsic stress by optimizing the grain boundary materials and thickness of the films.

Toward fuel cells built from renewable and abundant components

Researchers at Ruhr-University Bochum and the Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion in Mülheim an der Ruhr report a novel concept to work with efficient and possibly cheaper catalysts for fuel cells in lieu of noble metals. A kind of buffer protects the catalysts against the hostile conditions encountered in fuel cells.

Researchers identify cause of surface barriers of metal-organic frameworks

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) can take up gases similar to a sponge that soaks up liquids. Hence, these highly porous materials are suited for storing hydrogen or greenhouse gases. However, loading of many MOFs is inhibited by barriers. Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology now report that the barriers are caused by corrosion of the MOF surface, which can be prevented by water-free synthesis and storing strategies.

Pressure probing potential photoelectronic manufacturing compound

New work from a team including several Carnegie scientists reveals that molybdenum disulfide becomes metallic under intense pressure. The team found a way to induce this metallic state by putting molybdenum disulfide under pressure in diamond anvil cells, which caused structural changes as the pressure increased to change the compound into a new phase.

“Wetting” a battery’s appetite for renewable energy storage

Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have pioneered a new material could allow more utilities to store large amounts of renewable energy and make the nation’s power system more reliable and resilient. The new electrode is made of a liquid metal alloy that enables sodium-beta batteries to last longer, helps streamline their manufacturing process, and reduces the risk of accidental fire.

Scientists develop new spray-on solar cells

A team of scientists at the University of Sheffield is the first to fabricate perovskite solar cells using a spray-painting process—a discovery that could help cut the cost of solar electricity. The spray-painting process wastes very little of the perovskite material and can be scaled to high volume manufacturing—similar to applying paint to cars and graphic printing.

New material allows for ultra-thin solar cells

Scientists at the Vienna University of Technology have managed to create a semiconductor structure consisting of two ultra-thin layers, which appears to be excellently suited for photovoltaic energy conversion. The structure consists of an ultra-thin layer of the photoactive crystal tungsten diselenide combined with another layer made of molybdenum disulphide, creating a designer-material that may be used in future low-cost solar cells.