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[Image above] Credit: NIST


Buildings wrapped in high-efficiency, flexible solar cells? It could happen

A patented breakthrough by researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology improves the efficiency of organic photovoltaic cells by 50%, and could someday provide a huge boost for the viability of solar power as a major source of energy. The development is based on increasing the energy gap between the electrodes by changing their fixed position in the system.

Promising new cathode material to enhance battery life

One of the most promising candidates for next-generation cathode materials is fluoride-phosphates of transition metals, according to an international team of research scientists. The team developed a new, high-power cathode material based on a fluoride-phosphate of vanadium and potassium for Li-ion batteries.

Novel synthesis method opens up new possibilities for utilizing Li-ion batteries

A study by University of Eastern Finland scientists opens up new electricity storage applications for Li-ion batteries. “The electric conductivity problem can be solved by producing nanosized, high surface area crystalline materials, or by modifying the material composition with highly conductive dopants. We have succeeded in doing both for lithium titanate in a simple, one-step gas phase process.

New molecular property may mean more efficient solar and opto-electronic devices

Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst report that they have for the first time identified an unexpected property in an organic semiconductor molecule that could lead to more efficient and cost-effective materials for use in cell phone and laptop displays, for example, and in opto-electronic devices such as lasers, light-emitting diodes and fiber optic communications.


Study finds no safety threat from brief exposure to industrial nanoparticles

Short-term exposure to engineered nanoparticles used in semiconductor manufacturing poses little risk to people or the environment, according to a widely read research paper from a University of Arizona-led research team. However, the paper calls for further analysis of potential toxicity for longer exposure periods.

‘Lasers rewired’: Scientists find new way to make nanowire lasers

Scientists at the Berkeley National Lab and UC Berkeley have found a simple new way to produce nanoscale wires that can serve as tiny, tunable lasers. The nanowires, with diameters as small as 200 nm and a blend of materials that has also proven effective in next-generation solar cell designs, were shown to produce very bright, stable laser light.

The key to mass-producing nanomaterials

Researchers have created a new way to manufacture nanoparticles that will transform the process from a painstaking, batch-by-batch drudgery into a large-scale, automated assembly line. The current process of manufacturing a nanoparticle typically involves mixing up a batch of chemicals by hand, but the new technique instead relies on microfluidics.


Eureka on new laws governing ‘developmental biology of materials’

When one atom first meets another, the precise nature of that interaction can determine much about what kinds of physical properties and behaviors will emerge. A team led by a University of Toronto physicist has now reported the discovery of a new set of rules related to the interactions between atoms that have been cooled close to absolute zero.

Quantum phase transition underpins superconductivity in copper oxides

Physicists have zoomed in on the transition that could explain why copper-oxides have such impressive superconducting powers. Settling a 20-year debate in the field, they found that a mysterious quantum phase transition associated with the termination of a regime called the “pseudogap” causes a sharp drop in the number of conducting electrons available to pair up for superconductivity.

Quantum dot solids: This generation’s silicon wafer?

A group of Cornell researchers is hoping its work with quantum dot solids can help usher in a new era in electronics. The multidisciplinary team has fashioned 2-D superstructures out of single-crystal building blocks. Through directed assembly and attachment processes, the lead selenide quantum dots are synthesized into larger crystals, then fused together to form atomically coherent square superlattices.

Crystal, magnetic structure of multiferroic hexagonal manganite

Ever since Curie conjectured on ‘the symmetry in physical phenomena, symmetry of an electric field and a magnetic field,’ it has long been a dream for material scientists to search for this rather unusual class of material. Multiferroic materials are a class of crystalline material which exhibit a number of unique properties, in which at least two order parameters exist simultaneously.


Modified laser cutter prints 3-D objects from powder

Rice University bioengineering researchers have modified a commercial-grade CO2 laser cutter to create OpenSLS, an open-source, selective laser sintering platform that can print intricate 3-D objects from powdered plastics and biomaterials. The system costs at least 40 times less than its commercial counterparts and allows researchers to work with their own specialized powdered materials.

3-D printing ultrafast graphene supercapacitor electrodes

Scientists at UC Santa Cruz and Lawrence Livermore National Lab have reported the first example of ultrafast 3-D-printed graphene supercapacitor electrodes that outperform comparable electrodes made via traditional methods. Their results open the door to novel, unconstrained designs of highly efficient energy storage systems for smartphones, wearables, implantable devices, electric cars, and wireless sensors.