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[Image above] Credit: NIST

$25M gift to create Materials Research Center at Boise State

Boise State University announced a $25 million gift from the Micron Foundation that will have a transformational impact on the field of engineering and materials research. The largest gift in the university’s history will fund the establishment of a new Center for Materials Research, operated by the College of Engineering. The Center will allow Boise State to better answer industry’s call for a more broadly based, technically fluent workforce.

A phase transition thought impossible

An ultrapure material taken to pressures greater than that in the depths of the ocean and chilled to temperatures colder than outer space has revealed an unexpected phase transition that crosses two different phase categories. A Purdue University-led team of researchers observed electrons transition from a topologically ordered phase to a broken symmetry phase.

Increased potential for perovskites as a material for solar cells

Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Lab have demonstrated a way to significantly increase the efficiency of perovskite solar cells by reducing the amount of energy lost to heat. The NREL team determined that charge carriers created by absorbing sunlight by the perovskite cells encounter a bottleneck where phonons (heat carrying particles) that are emitted while the charge carriers cool cannot decay quickly enough.

Monolithic perovskite/silicon tandem solar cell achieves record efficiency

A team from the HZB Institute for Silicon Photovoltaics in cooperation and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne has fabricated organic-inorganic perovskite monolithic tandem solar cells. The scientists deposited a layer of tin dioxide at low temperatures to replace the usually used titanium dioxide. A thin layer of perovskite could then be spin-coated onto this intermediate layer and covered with hole-conductor material.

Unraveling the complex, intertwined electron phases in a superconductor

A team led by researchers from Brookhaven National Lab and Cornell University has characterized a key arrangement of electrons in a high-temperature superconductor. The material is a member of a family of copper-oxygen-based superconducting compounds—the cuprates—that are prime candidates for numerous potential high-impact applications, including extremely efficient electricity generation, storage, and transmission across the nation’s power grid.

Cleaner, safer medical equipment with metallic glass coatings

To prevent cells of all kinds from hanging out in medical equipment, researchers at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology have recently developed a novel anti-adhesive coating that can be easily sputtered onto a variety of medical tools. The coating is a zirconium-based thin film metallic glass, which is a metal with a disordered atomic structure.

Halloysite: Finally a promising natural nanomaterial?

Halloysite is a natural biocompatible nanomaterial available in thousands of tons at low price, which makes it a good candidate for nanoarchitectural composites. In chemical composition it is similar to kaolin. Halloysite tubes can encase enzymes for longer storage, higher temperature, and extended functionality, while the tube’s opening allows for delivery of small substrate molecules into the tube interior for biocatalysis.