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[Image above] Credit: NIST

Getting closer to DIY spray-on solar cell technology

A new study out of St. Mary’s College of Maryland puts us closer to do-it-yourself spray-on solar cell technology—promising third-generation solar cells utilizing a nanocrystal ink deposition that could make traditional expensive silicon-based solar panels a thing of the past. Researchers found that ammonium chloride is a non-toxic, inexpensive viable alternative to cadmium chloride for nanocrystal solar cells.

Nano-mechanical study offers new assessment of silicon for next-gen batteries

A detailed nanomechanical study of mechanical degradation processes in silicon structures containing varying levels of lithium ions offers good news for researchers attempting to develop reliable next-generation rechargeable batteries using silicon-based electrodes. Using a combination of experimental and simulation techniques, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and three other research organizations have reported surprisingly high damage tolerance in electrochemically-lithiated silicon materials.

Techniques could create better material, design in high-consequence uses

Additive manufacturing encompasses techniques to make parts or whole assemblies in plastic, ceramic, and metal. “We need to develop computational tools that will enable us to make the leap to new types of designs, tools that will make modern computer-aided design systems seem as quaint as drafting tables and T-squares,” said Andre Claudet, a manager in the Precision Mechanical Systems department.

A rechargeable battery to power a home from rooftop solar panels

A team of Harvard scientists and engineers has demonstrated a rechargeable battery that could make storage of electricity from intermittent energy sources like solar and wind safe and cost-effective for both residential and commercial use. The new research builds on earlier work by members of the same team that could enable cheaper and more reliable electricity storage at the grid level.

Superconductivity: Missing piece of jigsaw found

Superconductivity in the compound BaC6 has been observed for the first time by AIMR researchers. While its low critical temperature of 65 millikelvin means that BaC6 is unlikely to find much application as a superconductor, the discovery is of deep significance for gaining a refined understanding of the superconducting mechanism of ‘conventional’ superconductors.

ORNL demonstrates road to supercapacitors for scrap tires

Some of the 300 million tires discarded each year in the United States alone could be used in supercapacitors for vehicles and the electric grid using a technology developed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Drexel University. By employing proprietary pretreatment and processing, a team led by Parans Paranthaman has created flexible polymer carbon composite films as electrodes for supercapacitors.

Quantum dots light up under strain

An international team, formed by scientists at the Italian Institute of Technology, the University Jaume I, the IBM research lab Zurich, and the University of Milano-Bicocca demonstrated a new approach to manipulate the light emission of quantum dots. The new strategy relies on a strain induced electrical field inside the quantum dots, created by growing a thick shell around the dots. This way, researchers were able to compress the inner core, creating the intense internal electric field.