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November 15th, 2011

Other materials stories that may be of interest

Published on November 15th, 2011 | By: Eileen De Guire

A fully automated robot arm pours molten glass into the sample mold. Credit: Knud Dobberke; Fraunhofer ISC.

Check ’em out:

Instant-on computers may be possible with modified materials

Researchers from three NSF-supported Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers at Penn State and Cornell recently added ferroelectric capability to materials used in common computer transistors–a feat that scientists have tried to achieve for more than half a century. Ferroelectric materials—found in subway, ATM, fuel and other “smart cards”—may eliminate time-consuming booting and rebooting of computer operating systems by providing an “instant-on” capability. Besides reducing the waiting time for everyday computer users, the discovery could pave the way for memory devices that are lower power, higher speed, and more convenient to use. The materials may also help prevent losses from power outages.

A super-absorbent solar material

A new nanostructured material that absorbs a broad spectrum of light from any angle could lead to the most efficient thin-film solar cells ever. Researchers at Caltech are applying the design to semiconductor materials to make solar cells that they hope will save money on materials costs while still offering high power-conversion efficiency. Initial tests with silicon suggest that this kind of patterning can lead to a fivefold enhancement in absorbance.

Robot speeds up glass development

Model by model, the electronics in a car are being moved closer to the engine block. This is why the materials used for the electronics must resist increasing heat—so the glass solder being used as glue must be continually optimized. For the first time ever, a robot takes on the task of developing new types of glass and examining their characteristics. Researchers will introduce this robot at the “productronica” trade fair to be held in Munich, Germany, from November 15 – 18, 2011

Better batteries

A team of engineers at Northwestern University has created an electrode for lithium-ion batteries—rechargeable batteries such as those found in cellphones and iPods —that allows the batteries to hold a charge up to 10 times greater than current technology. Batteries with the new electrode also can charge 10 times faster than current batteries. The researchers combined two chemical engineering approaches to address two major battery limitations—energy capacity and charge rate—in one fell swoop. In addition to better batteries for cellphones and iPods, the technology could pave the way for more efficient, smaller batteries for electric cars.

New journal on disruptive science and technology launching in 2012

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers is launching a new journal, the Journal of Disruptive Science and Technology, a highly innovative, bimonthly peer-reviewed journal that seeks to publish game-changing research that has the potential to significantly improve human health, well-being, and productivity. The Journal will present new and innovative results, essential data, cutting-edge discoveries, thorough syntheses and analyses, and publish out-of-the-box concepts that will improve the way we live.


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