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[Image above] Credit: NIST


One step closer to sustainable hydrogen production from titania

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University have come a step closer to water splitting by tailoring the structure of titania to hasten hydrogen production from biomass-derived compounds. The researchers determined that lengthening nanorods to 50 nm increased the hydrogen production rate of a rare form of titania called brookite, only accessible at the nanoscale.

Revealing ion transport in 2-D molybdenum disulfide at the nanoscale

Researchers in EPFL’s Laboratory of Nanoscale Biology have demonstrated that ion transport could be described by a law of physics called Coulomb blockade. To carry out their tests, the researchers created an artificial ion channel by making a hole less than a nanometer in size in 2-D molybdenum disulfide. When they applied a voltage, they were able to measure variations in current.

Effective graphene doping depends on substrate material

Juelich physicists have discovered unexpected effects in doped graphene. They investigated samples of the carbon compound enriched with the foreign atom nitrogen on various substrate materials. Unwanted interactions with these substrates can influence the electric properties of graphene. The researchers have now shown that effective doping depends on the choice of substrate material.

Nanoparticles can grow in cubic shape

Use of nanoparticles in many applications, e.g. for catalysis, relies on the surface area of the particles. Now scientists at the University of Helsinki show how originally spherical nucleus can transform into cube with high surface-to-volume ratio. These nanocubes are available to be used in practice, and may interest many designers of new materials.


New catalyst is three times better at splitting water

With a combination of theory and clever, meticulous gel-making, scientists from the SLAC National Accelerator Lab and the University of Toronto have developed a new type of catalyst that’s three times better than the previous record-holder at splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. The research outlines a potential way to make a future generation of water-splitting catalysts from three abundant metals—iron, cobalt and tungsten.

Lithium hoarding behind failure of promising new battery

Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Lab found that salts used in the liquid in lithium–sulfur batteries make a big difference. When a salt called LiTFSI is packed in the liquid, a test battery can hold most of its charge for more than 200 uses. The LiTFSI helps bind up lithium atoms and sulfur on the electrode but quickly releases them.

For rechargeable batteries that crush the competition, crush this material

By chemically modifying and pulverizing a promising group of compounds, scientists at the NIST have potentially brought safer, solid-state rechargeable batteries two steps closer to reality. The scientists’ work shows that chunks of a sodium-based compound (Na2B12H12) would function well in a battery only at elevated temperatures, but when they are milled into far smaller pieces, they can potentially perform even in extreme cold.

Hydride-ion conduction makes its first appearance

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology in collaboration with colleagues in Japan demonstrate the first electrochemical reaction based on hydride ions in an oxide-based solid-state cell for potential next-generation batteries. Using an oxyhydride solid state cell they have now demonstrated pure H- conduction in an oxide for the first time.

NREL, SLAC scientists pinpoint solar cell manufacturing process

Scientists at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Lab and SLAC National Accelerator Lab have been able to pinpoint for the first time what happens during a key manufacturing process of silicon solar cells. The research focused on identifying the silver-contact reaction mechanism that occurs during the manufacturing of silicon-based photovoltaic cells.


3-D printing structures with active chemistry

For the first time, researchers have demonstrated how to use commercial 3-D printers to create a structure with active chemistry. The researchers designed a small structure the size of handheld sponge and dispersed throughout it plastic chemically active titanium dioxide nanoparticles. They show the resulting 3-D printed material can actively degrade pollutants.

Physicists just ‘undiscovered’ technetium carbide

A team from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in Russia has used an algorithm to model a whole range of potential transition metal carbides for the first time, and has demonstrated that technetium carbide is impossible. They calculated two key parameters for each potential carbide: the energy of metal atoms’ bonding, and the energy required to insert carbon into the lattice of metal atoms.

New crystal is four times more sensitive to X-rays

A research group led by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln reveals a new crystalline material that is four times more sensitive to X-rays than leading commercial detectors. Known as methylammonium lead tribromide, the material can detect an X-ray dose about 11 times lower than that required for many medical applications.

Silicon profits from a dose of iron

A streamlined procedure for assembling the active components of photovoltaic devices from inexpensive metals could boost their economic prospects. By rapidly heating silicon wafers covered with thin iron silicide and aluminum films, researchers at A*STAR, Singapore, have developed a way to eliminate many of the complicated, time-consuming steps needed to fabricate light harvesting solar cells.

Scientists discover how gypsum forms, how it might tell us about water on Mars

A new explanation of how gypsum forms may change the way we process this important building material, as well as allow us to interpret past water availability on other planets such as Mars. A group of European geochemists has now shown that gypsum forms through a complex 4-step process: the understanding of this process opens the way to more energy efficient production of plaster.