Schematic showing the architecture of the sensor developed at Princeton. Credit Stephen Y. Chou; Princeton.

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Princeton engineers make breakthrough in ultrasensitive Raman-based sensor

Princeton researchers have invented an extremely sensitive sensor that opens up new ways to detect a wide range of substances, from tell-tale signs of cancer to hidden explosives. The sensor, which is the most sensitive of its kind to date, relies on a completely new architecture and fabrication technique developed by the Princeton researchers. It’s operation is based on surface-enhanced Raman scattering.

New tricks from old polymers

Organic solar cells, light-emitting diodes, and thin-film transistors could be enhanced by polymers that mimic the properties of traditional inorganic semiconductors.

DOE and HUD launch energy efficiency loan program

“PowerSaver “loans, backed by the Federal Housing Administration, will be available from 18 lenders in certain regions of the country to provide homeowners up to $25,000 to make energy-efficient improvements, including door and window replacement. The two-year pilot program was just kicked off by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Energy.

Chicago’s Willis Tower to become a vertical solar farm

The iconic Willis Tower (formally the Sears Tower) is set to become a massive solar electric plant with the installation of a pilot solar electric glass project. They will replace the windows on the south side of the 56th floor with a new type of photovoltaic glass developed by Pythagoras Solar which preserves daylighting and views while reducing heat gain and producing the same energy as a conventional solar panel. The project could grow to 2 MW in size.

Less is more: Researchers pinpoint graphene’s varying conductivity level

Researchers at North Carolina State University have found one of the first roadblocks to utilizing graphene for fast electronic devices, by showing that its conductivity decreases significantly when more than one layer is present. With the help of the high performance computers at Oak Ridge National Lab, the NC State team discovered both good and bad news about graphene: With a single layer of graphene, the mobility — and therefore conductivity — shown by the researchers’ simulations turned out to be much higher than they had originally thought; the bad news is that the mobility of electrons in bilayer graphene is roughly an order of magnitude lower than in a single graphene sheet.

Jell-O device detects organ failure

Using only aluminum foil, gelatin, a 12-cent LED light, and a few other inexpensive materials, researchers have developed a sensor that can detect pancreatitis quickly and easily. About the size of a matchbox, the sensor relies on a two-step process to diagnose the disease, a sudden inflammation of the pancreas that can lead to severe stomach pain, nausea, fever, shock and, in some cases, death.