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Other materials stories that may be of interest

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[Image above] Credit: NIST

Researchers devise more efficient carbon nanotube materials for solar fuel cells

University of Texas at Arlington chemists have developed new high-performing materials for cells that harness sunlight to split carbon dioxide and water into useable fuels like methanol and hydrogen gas. The new hybrid platform uses ultra-long carbon nanotube networks with a homogeneous coating of copper oxide nanocrystals.

Engineering material magic with 2-D tin monoxide

University of Utah engineers have discovered a new kind of 2-D semiconducting material for electronics that opens the door for much speedier computers and smartphones that also consume a lot less power. The semiconductor, made of tin monoxide, is a layer of 2-D material only one atom thick, allowing electrical charges to move through it much faster than conventional 3-D materials such as silicon.

New technique for turning sunlight into hydrogen

A team of Korean researchers has pioneered a new type of multilayered (Au NPs/TiO2/Au) photoelectrode that boosts the ability of solar water-splitting to produce hydrogen. According to the research team, this special photoelectrode, inspired by the way plants convert sunlight into energy, is capable of absorbing visible light from the sun and using it to split water molecules.

Ultrathin semiconductor heterostructures for new technological applications

Heterostructures formed by different 3-D semiconductors form the foundation for modern electronic and photonic devices. University of Washington scientists have successfully combined two different ultrathin semiconductors—each just one layer of atoms thick—to make a new 2-D heterostructure with potential uses in clean energy and optically-active electronics.

New type of optical material discovered in mantis shrimp

Researchers from the University of Bristol discovered that mantis shrimp use a unique polarizing structure. Using a combination of careful anatomy, light measurements, and theoretical modeling, the scientists found that mantis shrimp polarizers work by manipulating light across the structure rather than through its depth, which is how typical polarizers work.  

Tiny diatoms boast enormous strength

Diatoms are encased within a hard shell shaped like a wide, flattened cylinder—like a tambourine—made of silica. Caltech researchers in the lab of Julia Greer have recently found that these shells have the highest specific strength—the strength at which a structure breaks with respect to its density—of any known biological material, including bone, antlers, and teeth.

Stretchable nanodevices put smart contact lenses in sight

Researchers at the University of Adelaide and RMIT University have joined forces to create a stretchable nanoscale device to manipulate light. The device manipulates light to such an extent that it can filter specific colors while still being transparent and could be used in the future to make smart contact lenses. The light manipulation relies on creating tiny artificial crystals termed “dielectric resonators”, which are a fraction of the wavelength of light.