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[Image above] Credit: NIST


New nanoparticle catalysts could reduce need for precious metals

Researchers at MIT have found a potential end-run around the limited supplies of noble metals for catalysts: a way to get the same amount of catalytic activity with as little as one-tenth the amount of precious metal. The key is to use an atomically-thin coating of noble metal over a tiny particle made of a much more abundant and inexpensive material: a kind of ceramic called transition metal carbide.

Porous carbon matrix with carbon nanotubes for enhanced Li-S battery performance

Lithium-sulfur batteries are considered to be one of the most competitive candidates for “post-lithium” technology due to their advantageous cost and specific energy. While much work has focused on designing a proper carbon structure to achieve strong carbon-pore confinement of sulfur and its soluble discharge intermediates, the conduction problems of sulfur and its discharge product have rarely been studied.

The next generation of carbon monoxide nanosensors

A team from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, in tandem with the University of Toulouse, has found an innovative method to build carbon monoxide sensors. As a tool for carbon dioxide detection, scientists use extremely small copper oxide nanowires. Copper oxide nanowires chemically react with CO, creating an electrical signal that can be used to quantify CO concentration.


System converts solar heat into usable light, increasing device’s overall efficiency

A team of MIT researchers has for the first time demonstrated a device based on a method that enables solar cells to break through a theoretically predicted ceiling on how much sunlight they can convert into electricity. In fact, theory predicts that in principle this method, which involves pairing conventional solar cells with added layers of high-tech materials, could more than double the theoretical limit of efficiency.

Discovery could energize development of longer-lasting batteries

Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have made a discovery that could open the door to cellphone and car batteries that last five times longer than current ones. They discovered new catalyst materials for lithium-air batteries that jumpstart efforts at expanding battery capacity.

Simpler processing improves solar cells

By simplifying the process used to make a promising type of solar cell, A*STAR researchers have also improved the device’s performance. The discovery may lead to better manufacturing methods for the commercialization of solar cells that rely on light-harvesting compounds known as perovskites.

New concept turns battery technology upside-down

A new approach to the design of a liquid battery, using a passive, gravity-fed arrangement similar to an old-fashioned hourglass, could offer great advantages due to the system’s low cost and the simplicity of its design and operation, says a team of MIT researchers who have made a demonstration version of the new battery.

Using solid-state materials with gold nanoantennas for more durable solar cells

Scientists at Hokkaido University in Japan are making leeway in the fabrication of all-solid-state solar cells that are highly durable and can efficiently convert sunlight into energy. The team employed atomic layer deposition. Using this method, they deposited a thin film of nickel oxide onto a single crystal of titanium dioxide. Gold nanoparticles were introduced between the two layers to act like an antenna that harvests visible light.


Apple supplier attempts to confirm glass-enclosed iPhone for 2017

Beyond possibilities like moving to an OLED display, we’ve heard the theory that Apple could be moving away from metal and embrace an all-glass iPhone. The idea’s been put forward a couple of times by prominent analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI, and now it appears to be picking some stronger support as the head of one of Apple’s manufacturing suppliers comments on the idea.

Laser treatment, bonding potential road to success for carbon fiber

Joining carbon fiber composites and aluminum for lightweight cars and other multi-material high-end products could become less expensive and the joints more robust because of a new method that harnesses a laser’s power and precision. The process, developed by a team led by researchers at Oak Ridge National Lab, would replace the practice of preparing the surface of the materials by hand.

Diamonds closer to becoming ideal semiconductors

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found a way to dope single-crystal diamonds with boron at relatively low temperatures and without any degradation. The researchers discovered if you bond a single-crystal diamond with a piece of silicon doped with boron, and heat it to 800ºC, the boron atoms will migrate from the silicon to the diamond. Carbon atoms from the diamond will fill those vacancies, leaving empty spots for boron atoms.

Caught on camera: First movies of droplets getting blown up by X-ray laser

Researchers have made the first microscopic movies of liquids getting vaporized by the world’s brightest X-ray laser at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The new data could lead to better and novel experiments at X-ray lasers, whose extremely bright, fast flashes of light take atomic-level snapshots of some of nature’s speediest processes.

Scientists explain how the giant magnetoelectric effect occurs in bismuth ferrite

A team of scientists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, the National Research University of Electronic Technology, and the Prokhorov General Physics Institute have proposed a theoretical model that explains the unexpectedly high values of the linear magnetoelectric effect in bismuth ferrite that have been observed in a number of experiments. The team also suggested a way of further enhancing the effect.

Strength and ductility for alloys

Scientists from the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung in Düsseldorf present a new type of metallic material that is extremely strong, but simultaneously ductile. Up until now, one material property could only be improved at the expense of the other. The work is thus contributing to the future design of metallic components with thinner sheets, and thereby helping to save resources.