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[Image above] Credit: NIST


Tiniest imperfections make big impacts in nano-patterned materials

A research team at Clarkson University reports an interesting conclusion that could have major impacts on the future of nano-manufacturing. Their analysis for a model of the process of random sequential adsorption shows that even a small imprecision in the position of the lattice landing sites can dramatically affect the density of the permanently formed deposit.

Coating to make soap pour cleanly out of plastic bottles, reduce waste and frustration

Researchers at The Ohio State University have found a way to create the perfect texture inside plastic bottles to let soap products flow freely. The technique involves lining a plastic bottle with microscopic y-shaped silica nanoparticles that cradle the droplets of soap aloft above tiny air pockets, so that the soap never actually touches the inside of the bottle.

This message will self-destruct: Electron-beam writing technique deposits carbon on graphene

Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have taken self-destructing messages to a new level with an electron-beam writing technique that induces the deposition of carbon on a graphene surface. Over time, the deposited carbon diffuses on the surface, which could dynamically change how the device functions.

Graphene used as a frequency mixer in new research

A professor, a postdoctoral researcher, and a graduate student hop onto a trampoline. No, it’s not the opening line of a joke. It’s a setup for the explanation of new Cornell-led research involving graphene. Their work describes the ability to use the graphene’s tension as a sort of mediator between vibrational modes, allowing for direct energy transfer from one frequency to another.

Nano-stiltskin: Turning gold into…see-through rubber

Flexible solar panels would benefit from stretchable, damage-resistant, transparent metal electrodes. Researchers found that topology and the adhesion between a metal nanomesh and the underlying substrate played key roles in creating such materials.


Discovery could dramatically boost efficiency of perovskite solar cells

Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab have discovered a possible secret to dramatically boosting the efficiency of perovskite solar cells hidden in the nanoscale peaks and valleys of the crystalline material. The scientists discovered a huge difference in energy conversion efficiency between facets on individual grains.

Rechargeable batteries that last longer and recharge more rapidly

Materials researchers have developed a very simple and cost-effective procedure for significantly enhancing the performance of conventional Li-ion rechargeable batteries. The procedure is scalable in size, so the use of rechargeable batteries will be optimized in all areas of application-whether in wristwatches, smartphones, laptops, or cars.

Keep it simple: Low-cost solar power

A new architecture takes very few processing steps to produce an affordable solar cell with efficiencies comparable to conventional silicon solar cells. This new architecture uses alternative, transparent materials that can be deposited at room temperature, eliminating the need for high temperature chemical doping—the process currently used to increase the electrical conductivity of key surfaces in solar cells.

Scientists explain unusual and effective features in perovskite

Scientists have described how charge-carrying particles move in perovskite. Perovskites could be used in the solar batteries of future. New results will help scientists to search for a required perovskite structure by taking into account its fundamental features, rather than at random.

Trapped electrons to blame for lack of battery efficiency

An international team led by Texas A&M University chemists is creating more efficient batteries by shedding light on the cause of one of their biggest problems—a ‘traffic jam’ of ions that slows down their charging and discharging process.


Radioactive cesium fallout on Tokyo from Fukushima mostly in glass microparticles

New research shows that most of the radioactive fallout which landed on downtown Tokyo a few days after the Fukushima accident was concentrated and deposited in non-soluble glass microparticles, as a type of ‘glassy soot’. The particles also concentrated the radioactive cesium, meaning that in some cases dose effects of the fallout are still unclear.

CMI taps the power of supercomputing to find rare-earth refining alternatives

A research project led by the Critical Materials Institute has identified agents for the separation of rare-earth metals that are potentially much less costly and better-performing than those currently used. Through the use of computer–aided molecular design, a collaboration of researchers identified several new low-cost, highly effective ligands.


Combining electrons and lasers to create designer beams for materials research

Scientists developed a new probe to measure dynamic behavior of materials on ultrafast timescales. The extreme ultraviolet (EUV) probe is highly controlled and can be used to extract dynamic information on electronic and magnetic properties. Lasers from tabletop systems create these probes by interacting with electrons in parent gas atoms, emitting EUV light.

Some surfaces are wetted by water, others are water-repellent: A new material can be both

Artificial materials can be made water-repellent, but it is extremely challenging to produce a surface with switchable wetting. Now, a research team from TU Wien, KU Leuven, and University of Zürich has managed to manipulate a surface of a single layer of boron nitride in such a way that it can be switched back and forth between states with high and low wetting and adhesion.

Shape-changing ‘smart’ material: Heat, light stimulate self-assembly

Washington State University researchers have developed a unique, multifunctional smart material that can change shape from heat or light and assemble and disassemble itself. This is the first time researchers have been able to combine several smart abilities, including shape memory behavior, light-activated movement and self-healing behavior, into one material.

Tough new hydrogel hybrid doesn’t dry out

Engineers at MIT have found a way to prevent hydrogels from dehydrating by devising a method to robustly bind hydrogels to elastomers. They found that coating hydrogels with a thin elastomer layer provided a water-trapping barrier that kept the hydrogel moist, flexible, and robust.

Penn chemists establish fundamentals of ferroelectric materials

Chemists from the University of Pennsylvania demonstrate a multiscale simulation of lead titanate oxide that provides new understanding about what it takes for polarizations within these materials to switch. This mathematical model is built up from the principles of quantum mechanics rather than being derived from physical experiments.