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[Image above] Credit: NIST


A battery made of molten metals

Designed to store energy on the electric grid, a novel rechargeable battery developed at MIT consists of molten metals that naturally separate to form two electrodes outside of a molten salt electrolyte. Tests with cells made of low-cost, Earth-abundant materials confirm that the liquid battery operates efficiently without losing significant capacity or mechanically degrading. The researchers have already demonstrated a simple manufacturing process for the prototypes.

Stable “superoxide” opens the door to lithium-air batteries

Argonne National Lab battery scientists, along with American and Korean collaborators, were able to produce stable crystallized lithium superoxide in lithium-air batteries, instead of battery-clogging lithium peroxide during battery discharging. Unlike lithium peroxide, lithium superoxide can easily dissociate into lithium and oxygen, leading to high efficiency and good cycle life.

Built in sensors make lithium-ion batteries safer

Researchers in Penn State’s Battery and Energy Storage Technology Center are working to make the lithium-ion batteries safer by inserting sensors to warn users of potential problems inside the battery. The internal sensors monitor internal temperatures, detect problems, and provide early warning for intervention. This technology is called internal reaction temperature sensing.

Battery shuts down at high temperatures and restarts when it cools

Stanford researchers have developed the first lithium-ion battery that shuts down before overheating, then restarts immediately when the temperature cools. The new technology could prevent the kind of fires that have prompted recalls and bans on a wide range of battery-powered devices, from recliners and computers to navigation systems and hoverboards.

Melting, coating, and all-solid-state lithium batteries

A joint research team at UNIST and Seoul National University discovered a new way to develop all-solid-state lithium batteries without a risk of conflagration or explosion. The team developed a way to coat the active materials with the solid electrolyte by diffusing powdered material in the liquid from melted solid electrolyte and vaporizing the solvent.


Study details electromagnetic properties of graphene-boron nitride materials

Developing novel materials from the atoms up goes faster when some of the trial and error is eliminated. A new Rice University and Montreal Polytechnic study aims to do that for graphene and boron nitride hybrids. Researchers designed computer simulations that combine graphene, the atom-thick form of carbon, with either carbon or boron nitride nanotubes.

Unique phononic filter could revolutionize signal processing systems

A unique filtering technology developed at Sandia National Lab that combines light and sound waves on a single chip is expected to better detect radar and communications frequencies. The filter uses photon/phonon coupling. For the filtering system, two materials are key: silicon nitride to form membranes in which the acoustic signals propagate, and silicon to create waveguides that confine the optical signals.

Shiny fish skin inspires nanoscale light reflectors

A nature-inspired method to model the reflection of light from the skin of silvery fish and other organisms may be possible, according to Penn State researchers. “We are proposing a model that uses fractal geometry to describe the layering in the biological structure of silvery fish. While we are not trying to reproduce the structure found in nature, the same model could guide the design of devices such as broadband mirrors,” says one of the researchers.


How calcium carbonate forms composites to make strong materials

A new study from Pacific Northwest Laboratory reveals how soft clumps of biological matter form calcium carbonate crystals and endow them with remarkable strength. The results show that such clumps become incorporated via chemical interactions with atoms in the crystals, an unexpected mechanism based on previous understanding.

Uncovering oxygen’s role in enhancing red LEDs

In the fabrication of solid-state lighting devices, oxygen plays a two-edged role. While oxygen can impede the effectiveness of gallium nitride, an enabling material for LEDs, small amounts of oxygen in some cases are needed to enhance them. An international group of researchers now shed light on this seeming contradiction by reporting that the quantity and location of oxygen in GaN can be fine-tuned to improve optical performance.

First atomic resolution study of organic-inorganic perovskites

Researchers report the first atomic resolution study of organic-inorganic perovskites used in next-gen solar cells. The scientists used a single crystal of methylammonium lead bromide to create topographic images of its surface with a scanning tunneling microscope. The researchers discovered that methylammonium molecules can rotate and that they favour specific orientations that lead to two types of surface structures with distinctly different properties.