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[Image above] Credit: NIST

Zeolites’ aluminum clusters shut down molecular fuel factory

Despite decades of industrial use, the exact chemical transformations occurring within zeolites remain poorly understood. Now scientists have found a way to atomically locate spots within the material where chemical reactions take place, and how these spots shut down. Called active sites, the spots help rip apart and rearrange molecules as they pass through nanometer-sized channels, like an assembly line in a factory. A process called steaming causes these active sites to cluster, effectively shutting down the factory, the scientists report.

Engineers give invisibility cloaks a slimmer design

Electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego have designed a cloaking device that is both thin and does not alter the brightness of light around a hidden object. The technology behind this cloak will have more applications than invisibility, such as concentrating solar energy and increasing signal speed in optical communications.

Scientists drive tiny shock waves through diamond

Researchers have used an X-ray laser to record, in detail never possible before, the microscopic motion and effects of shock waves rippling across diamond. The technique, developed at the SLAC National Accelerator Lab, allows scientists to precisely explore the complex physics driving massive star explosions, which are critical for understanding fusion energy, and to improve scientific models used to study these phenomena.

New chemical reaction pathway on titanium dioxide: Tunneling out of the surface

A research team comprising scientists from Tohoku University, RIKEN, University of Tokyo, Chiba University and University College London have discovered a new chemical reaction pathway on titanium dioxide. The reaction mechanism involves the application of an electric field that narrows the width of the reaction barrier, thereby allowing hydrogen atoms to tunnel away from the surface. This opens the way for the manipulation of the atomic-scale transport channels of hydrogen, which could be important in hydrogen storage.

Future deployment of distributed solar hinges on electricity rate design

Future distributed solar photovoltaic deployment levels are highly sensitive to retail electricity rate design, according to a newly released report by researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The study also explores the feedback effects between retail electricity rates and PV deployment, and suggests that increased solar deployment can lead to changes in PV compensation levels that either accelerate or dampen further deployment.

Depletion and enrichment of chlorine in perovskites observed

A team of Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin scientists has analyzed perovskite solar cells and unveiled how chlorine is distributed in the perovskite absorber layer. With hard X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy experiments, the team probed the surface of perovskite layers and found nearly no chlorine near the surface. “We have observed a higher concentration of chlorine near the perovskite/TiO2 interface than in the rest of the thin film,” one of the scientists says.

New lithium ion battery is safer, tougher, and more powerful

South Korean researchers at the Institute for Basic Science and Pohang University have created a new lithium ion battery made from a porous solid that greatly improves its performance as well as reduces the risk of overheating. The Korean team tried a totally new approach in making the batteries. The new battery is built from pumpkin-shaped molecules called cucurbit[6]uril (CB[6]), which are organized in a honeycomb-like structure.