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75th Glass Problems Conference call for papers

Organizers of the 75th Conference on Glass Problems invite engineers, managers, scientists, educators, students, and entrepreneurs interested in glass manufacturing to submit an abstract for this premier industry conference. Broad topics of interest for the 75th GPC include glass melting, refractories, process control and modeling, safety and emission, raw materials, batching, recycling, and new topics relevant to glass industries. Abstracts are due January 27, 2014.

Little, low-priced 3-D scanner from Toronto part of CES draw

Toronto-based Matterform showcased a 3D scanner at this year’s CES with two attention-drawing features: It is easy to use for designers, hobbyists and consumers and it is priced below $600. The company promotes the scanner as requiring no assembly, ready to use out of the box. The goal is to get the user’s target object from scanning platter to 3D printer as easily as possible. “Unfold it, plug it in, place an object on the scan bed and press go! It’s that simple. Really,” says the company site. After a successful crowdfunding campaign last year, the scanner team, Adam Brandejs and Drew Cox along with Trevor Townsend, are preparing to launch the $579 3D scanner next month. The team showed their scanner at CES earlier this month.

Weighing particles at the attogram scale

(MIT News) MIT engineers have devised a way to measure the mass of particles with a resolution better than an attogram — one millionth of a trillionth of a gram. Weighing these tiny particles, including both synthetic nanoparticles and biological components of cells, could help researchers better understand their composition and function. The system builds on a technology previously developed by Scott Manalis, an MIT professor of biological and mechanical engineering, to weigh larger particles, such as cells. This system, known as a suspended microchannel resonator, measures the particles’ mass as they flow through a narrow channel. By shrinking the size of the entire system, the researchers were able to boost its resolution to 0.85 attograms —more than a 30-fold improvement over the previous generation of the device.

Battery offers renewable energy breakthrough

(Harvard Gazette) A team of Harvard scientists and engineers has demonstrated a new type of battery that could fundamentally transform the way electricity is stored on the grid. The novel battery technology is reported in a paper published in Nature on Jan. 9. Under the OPEN 2012 program, the Harvard team received funding from the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy to develop the grid-scale battery, and plans to work with the agency to catalyze further technological and market breakthroughs over the next several years. The paper describes a metal-free flow battery that relies on the electrochemistry of naturally abundant, inexpensive, small organic (carbon-based) molecules called quinones, which are similar to molecules that store energy in plants and animals.

Perovskite solar cells become even more promising with cheaper materials

Due to their rapid improvements in a short amount of time, perovskite solar cells have become one of today’s most promising up-and-coming photovoltaic technologies. Currently, the record efficiency for a perovskite solar cell is 15% and expected to improve further. Although the perovskite material itself is relatively inexpensive, the best devices commonly use an expensive organic hole-conducting polymer, called spiro-OMeTAD, which has a commercial price that is more than 10 times that of gold and platinum. In a new study, Jeffrey A. Christians, Raymond C. M. Fung, and Prashant V. Kamat from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana have found that copper iodide, an inexpensive inorganic hole-conducting material, may serve as a possible alternative to spiro-OMeTAD. Although the efficiency of perovskite solar cells containing copper iodide measured in this study is not quite as high as those containing spiro-OMeTAD, the copper iodide devices exhibit some other advantages that, overall, suggest that they could lead to the development of inexpensive, high-efficiency perovskite solar cells.