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[Image above] Credit: NIST

A promising new prototype of battery: Sodium-ions in a standard format

After two years of research, a French research team has designed an alternative technology to Li-ion for specific applications. The researchers have developed the first battery using sodium ions in the usual “18650” format, an industry standard. The prototype relies on sodium, an element far more abundant and less costly than lithium. The batteries have displayed performance levels comparable to their lithium counterparts.

Dimensionality transition in a new form of iron oxide

A new variety of iron oxide created and tested by scientists in Cracow has surprised both physicists and engineers, as it revealed features previously unobserved in any other material. The new form of iron oxide is a metallic crystal with virtually no defects, a unique conglomerate of electrical and magnetic characteristics, and atoms that vibrate as if the number of dimensions has been reduced.

Boron nitride nanosheets contain tiny holes to clean oil spills

Deakin University scientists have manufactured a revolutionary material that can clean up oil spills. The major breakthrough material, which absorbs oil like a sponge, is ready to be trialed by industry after two years of refinement in the laboratory. The ground-breaking material is a boron nitride nanosheet with tiny holes that can increase its surface area per gram to effectively the size of 5.5 tennis courts.

Photonic “sintering” may create new solar, electronics manufacturing technologies

Engineers at Oregon State University have made a fundamental breakthrough in understanding the physics of photonic “sintering,” which could lead to many new advances in solar cells, flexible electronics, various types of sensors and other high-tech products. The team discovered that previous approaches to understand and control photonic sintering had been based on a flawed view of the basic physics involved.

Photon upconversion pushes limits of solar cells

Florida State researchers have introduced a new strategy for generating more efficient solar cells. In the past, scientists have put an extra photon upconversion filter before or after the cell to catch low energy, unused light and convert it into usable, high-energy light. Instead, the Florida team integrated this process directly into the cell through self-assembly. Using this process in an optimized solar cell can increase the maximum efficiency from 33% to more than 45%.

Anti-seismic bricks to improve buildings’ response to earthquakes

Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia have designed a new seismic isolator that improves the way buildings respond to earthquakes. The earthquake-resistant building material, Sisbrick, combines materials to absorb horizontal seismic movements, while also supporting vertical loads that act on the integrity of the building frame.

Microwaves improve green workings of materials used to clean wastewater

A new method for making the material used for cleaning wastewater makes the production process greener—and 20 times faster. Researchers at Chiang Mai University and the National Nanotechnology Center in Thailand and the University of Wollongong in Australia have developed a one-step method using microwaves to make BiVO4 nanoparticles that doesn’t require high temperatures and pressures.

Need rare-earths know-how? Critical Materials Institute offers lower-cost access

Do you work with rare earths or other critical materials? Do you need access to information, expertise and networking opportunities about them? The Critical Materials Institute, a U.S. DOE Innovation Hub led by the Ames Laboratory, is looking to strengthen its network of industrial, commercial, educational and government partners through a newly revamped and lower-cost affiliate membership program.