[Image above] Credit: NIST
Researchers at MIT and Samsung have developed a new approach to one of the three basic components of batteries, the electrolyte. The new findings are based on the idea that a solid electrolyte, rather than the liquid used in today’s most common rechargeables, could greatly improve both device lifetime and safety—while providing a significant boost in the amount of power stored in a given space.
Advances at Oregon State University in manufacturing technology for “quantum dots” may soon lead to a new generation of LED lighting that produces a more user-friendly white light, while using less toxic materials and low-cost manufacturing processes that take advantage of simple microwave heating. A key to the advances is use of both a “continuous flow” chemical reactor, and microwave heating technology that’s conceptually similar to the ovens that are part of almost every modern kitchen.
Dozens of new 2-D materials similar to graphene are now available, thanks to research from University of Manchester scientists. These 2-D crystals are capable of delivering designer materials with revolutionary new properties. By protecting the new reactive crystals with more stable 2-D materials, such as graphene, via computer control in a specially designed inert gas chamber environments, these materials can be successfully isolated to a single atomic layer for the first time.
In the 1930s, Irving Langmuir and Katharine Blodgett discovered that by spreading molecules with volatile organic solvents on the surface of water, they could create a one-molecule-thick film and use it as an anti-reflective coating for glass. Now Northwestern Engineering’s Jiaxing Huang has advanced this old technique. By electrospraying materials on water’s surface, he has found a way to avoid the use of toxic organic solvents while making Langmuir-Blodgett assembly more efficient, easier to standardize, and safer to scale up.
Rice University chemists who developed a unique form of graphene have found a way to embed metallic nanoparticles that turn the material into a useful catalyst for fuel cells and other applications. Laser-induced graphene is a flexible film with a surface of porous graphene made by exposing a common plastic known as polyimide to a commercial laser-scribing beam. The researchers have now found a way to enhance the product with reactive metals.
Mimicking photosynthesis is not easy. The bottleneck of artificial photosynthesis is visible light, because converting it into other forms of energy is not efficient. Researchers at Michigan Technological University have found a way to solve this issue, leading to an efficient technique to produce hydrogen fuel. In this new hydrogen production process, the key is the interactions of a catalyst, light, and a sacrificial molecule.