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[Image above] Credit: NIST


Novel functionalized nanomaterials for CO2 capture

Scientists at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, have developed a novel design of CO2 sorbents that show superior CO2 capture capacity and stability over conventional materials. The team designed novel functionalized fibrous silica nanomaterials that allow higher amine loading with a minimal decrease in surface area.

Microwaved nanoribbons may bolster oil and gas wells

Wellbores drilled to extract oil and gas can be dramatically reinforced with a small amount of modified graphene nanoribbons added to a polymer and microwaved, according to Rice University researchers. The labs of James Tour and Rouzbeh Shahsavari showed that combining the nanoribbons with an oil-based thermoset polymer results in a composite that can plug microscopic fractures that allow drilling fluid to seep through and destabilize well walls.


Extracting miniature diamonds from crude

Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory jointly run the world’s leading program for isolating and studying diamondoids—the tiniest possible specks of diamond. Found naturally in petroleum fluids, these interlocking carbon cages weigh less than a billionth of a billionth of a carat (a carat weighs about the same as 12 grains of rice); the smallest ones contain just 10 atoms.

‘Nanocavity’ may improve ultrathin solar panels, video cameras and more

Recently, engineers placed a single layer of molybdenum disulfide molecules on top of an optical nanocavity—an arrangement of mirrors that allows beams of light to circulate in closed paths—made of aluminum oxide and aluminum. The results show that the molybdenum disulfide nanocavity can increase the amount of light that ultrathin semiconducting materials absorb, which could help manufacture more powerful, efficient, and flexible electronic devices.

Researchers unleash graphene ‘tiger’ for more efficient optoelectronics

In traditional light-harvesting methods, energy from one photon only excites one electron or none depending on the absorber’s energy gap. The remaining energy is lost as heat. But new research describes one promising approach to coax photons into stimulating multiple electrons. The method exploits some surprising quantum-level interactions to give one photon multiple potential electron partners.

Silver nanowires are an ideal material for current and future flexible touch-screen technologies

A team from the University of Surrey looked to alternative materials to overcome the challenges of indium tin oxide, which is suffering from supply uncertainty. The new research describes how silver nanowires are proving to be the ideal material for flexible, touch-screen technologies while also exploring how the material can be manipulated to tune its performance for other applications.

Graphene flakes to calm synapses

Innovative graphene technology to buffer the activity of synapses—this is the idea behind a coordinated by the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste and the University of Trieste. In particular, the study showed how effective graphene oxide flakes are at interfering with excitatory synapses, an effect that could prove useful in new treatments for diseases like epilepsy.


Floor tiles generate energy through electromagnetic induction

Pavegen, the company that makes electricity-generating flooring, has released a new version of its power-producing paving tile. The new tile produces 5 watts per step, which can be used to power low-voltage off-grid applications such as street lights. Pavegen said the new technology produced 20 times more power per footstep than its previous system.

Laser-based manufacturing process is revolutionizing the photovoltaics market

For the first, time point-contacted solar cells can be manufactured in series. A very thin non-conductive layer is deposited on the underside of a PERC solar cell. Acting as a mirror, this layer reflects the share of sunlight not absorbed when penetrating the wafer back into the silicon wafer. Since the front side also reflects this light back into the wafer, it is also captured in the silicon wafer and the efficiency level of the solar cell increases.

Battery technology with off-the-charts charging capacity

University of California, Irvine researchers have invented nanowire-based battery material that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times, moving us closer to a battery that would never require replacement. The breakthrough work could lead to commercial batteries with greatly lengthened lifespans for computers, smartphones, appliances, cars and spacecraft.

More salt, more power: Researchers building better batteries

A team of researchers at the University of Maryland, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, and colleagues have developed a better battery by adding a pinch of salt. The researchers found that adding a second salt to the water-based (aqueous) batteries increased their energy capacity, but without the fire risk, poisonous chemicals, and environmental hazards of lithium ion batteries.


Finding the next new tech material: The computational hunt for the weird and unusual

Scientists at Ames Lab are turning to the world of computation to guide their search for the next new material. Their program uses software code developed to map and predict the distinct structural, electronic, magnetic stable and metastable features that are often the source of an advanced material’s unique capabilities.

Machine learning accelerates the discovery of new materials

Researchers recently demonstrated how an informatics-based adaptive design strategy, tightly coupled to experiments, can accelerate the discovery of new materials with targeted properties. “What we’ve done is show that, starting with a relatively small data set of well-controlled experiments, it is possible to iteratively guide subsequent experiments toward finding the material with the desired target.”

Researchers find unexpected magnetic effect in topological insulators

MIT researchers have discovered an unexpected magnetic effect in topological insulators that could open up a new pathway to advanced electronic devices. The team bonded together several molecular layers of topological insulator material bismuth selenide with an ultrathin layer of magnetic material europium sulfide—the resulting bilayer retains properties of a topological insulator and full magnetization capabilities. 

Surprising new properties in a 2-D semiconductor

Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and UC Berkeley have taken a big step toward answering whether impurities and defects could modify transition metal dichalcogenides’ intrinsic properties—perhaps in ways that improve the semiconductor or lead to new functionalities. They found how substantial linear defects in the materials create entirely new properties, maybe even indicating that defects in TMDs might mediate superconducting states.

Best of both worlds: Ferromagnetism and semiconductor for spintronics

More, faster, better, cheaper—these are the demands of our device-happy and data-centered world. Meeting these demands requires technologies for processing and storing information. Now, a significant obstacle to the development of next-generation device technologies appears to have been overcome, according to researchers from the University of Tokyo (Japan), Tokyo Institute of Technology (Japan) and Ho Chi Minh University of Pedagogy (Vietnam).

Distance wireless charging enhanced by magnetic metamaterials

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona researchers have developed a system that efficiently transfers electrical energy between two separate circuits. The system, made with a shell of metamaterials which concentrates the magnetic field, could transmit energy efficiently enough to charge mobile devices without having to place them close to the charging base.