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[Image above] Credit: NIST


‘Rivet graphene’ proves its mettle

Nanoscale “rivets” give graphene qualities that may speed the wonder material’s adoption in products like flexible, transparent electronics, according to researchers at Rice University. The researchers report the creation of “rivet graphene,” 2-D carbon that incorporates carbon nanotubes for strength and carbon spheres that encase iron nanoparticles, which enhance both the material’s portability and its electronic properties.

Electricity generated with water, salt, and a 3-atoms-thick membrane

Researchers at EPFL have developed an osmotic power generation system that consists of two liquid-filled compartments separated by a thin membrane made of molybdenum disulfide. The membrane has a nanopore through which seawater ions pass into the fresh water until the two fluids’ salt concentrations are equal. As the ions pass through the nanopore, their electrons are transferred to an electrode—which is what is used to generate an electric current.

‘Green’ electronic materials produced with synthetic biology

University of Massachusetts at Amherst A new strain of bacteria that spins out extremely thin and highly conductive wires made up of solely of non-toxic, natural amino acids has been developed by scientists. They say the wires, which rival the thinnest wires known to man, avoid the harsh chemical processes typically used to produce nanoelectronic materials.

Graphene photodetectors: Thinking outside the 2-D box

Research led by The Institute of Photonic Sciences demonstrates a novel way to detect low-energy photons using vertical heterostructures made by stacking graphene and other 2-D semiconducting materials. By studying the photoresponse of these atomically thin sandwiches, the researchers have shown that it is possible to generate a current by heating electrons in graphene with infrared light and extracting the hottest electrons over a vertical energy barrier.

New technique for testing nanomaterials

A University of California, Irvine engineer has invented a method for analyzing nanowires at temperatures approaching 800ºF in first-ever experiments, showing the valuable role the materials could play in converting excess heat from machines and electronics into useable electricity.


New milestone in printed photovoltaic technology

Together with colleagues from Imperial College London and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg researchers have now managed to find an alternative to fullerenes. While fullerenes only absorb a very small amount of light, the new molecule is able to convert a very large amount. The more sunlight absorbed, the higher the efficiency.

Key improvement for fuel cells: Work improves understanding of process that stops reactions

Washington State University researchers have determined a key step in improving solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), a promising clean energy technology. The researchers determined a way to improve one of the primary failure points for the fuel cell, overcoming key issues that have hindered its acceptance.

New light harvesting potentials uncovered: Quantum-confined bandgap narrowing mechanism

Researchers for the first time have found a quantum-confined bandgap narrowing mechanism where UV absorption of the grapheme quantum dots and TiO2 nanoparticles can easily be extended into the visible light range. Such a mechanism may allow the design of a new class of composite materials for light harvesting and optoelectronics.

Researchers discover key mechanism for producing solar cells

Researchers from the University of Houston have reported the first explanation for how a class of materials changes during production to more efficiently absorb light, a critical step toward the large-scale manufacture of better and less-expensive solar panels.

The future of perovskite solar cells has just got brighter, come rain or shine

A team of researchers at Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH) has found a new method to improve not only the efficiency, but stability and humidity tolerance of perovskite solar cells. The scientists have designed a hydrophobic conducting polymer that has high hole mobility without the need of additives, which tend to easily absorb moisture in the air.


NIST reveals valuable fundamentals of a stacked, cracked jack of all trades

There is a crack in everything, Leonard Cohen sang; that’s how the light gets in. Now a team led by scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has explored the properties of a promising class of materials with new capabilities that depend on those cracks. Their results could help open the way for practical applications from nonvolatile computer memory to quick-dimming windows.

Making a multi-use, stiff carbon foam using bread

Sturdy, lightweight carbon foam has many structural and insulating applications in aerospace engineering, energy storage, and temperature maintenance. Current methods to create this material run into difficulties when trying to make the product strong, lightweight, environmentally friendly and low-cost. Now, a group reports a method to produce such a carbon foam by using super-toasted bread.

Molecular switch for controlling color, fluorescence

Researchers have developed a molecular switching technique to control the visible color and fluorescent properties of a compound by using hydrogen and oxygen gas. This innovative work is environmentally friendly since it uses the energy from the two gases to switch the color and fluorescence of a compound and produces only water as a byproduct.

Mixing topology and spin in a gadolinium, platinum, and bismuth compound

Recently a team of researchers at MIT and collaborators at NIST, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Beijing Institute of Technology have experimentally demonstrated a “hybrid material” that is both intrinsically magnetic and has a topological character. They studied a compound of gadolinium, platinum, and bismuth, known as a ternary compound. The correlated material is more than the sum of its parts, showing quantum mechanical corrections to electrical properties at an unprecedented scale.

Computational design tool transforms flat materials into 3-D shapes

A new computational design tool can turn a flat sheet of plastic or metal into a complex 3-D shape, such as a mask, a sculpture or even a lady’s high-heel shoe. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne say the tool enables designers to fully and creatively exploit an unusual quality of certain materials—the ability to expand uniformly in two dimensions.

Scientists glimpse inner workings of atomically thin transistors

With an eye to the next generation of tech gadgetry, a team of physicists at The University of Texas at Austin has had the first-ever glimpse into what happens inside an atomically thin semiconductor device. In doing so, they discovered that an essential function for computing may be possible within a space so small that it’s effectively one-dimensional.

Technology marries light-harvesting nanoantennas to high-reaction-rate catalysts

In a find that could transform some of the world’s most energy-intensive manufacturing processes, researchers at Rice University have unveiled a new method for uniting light-capturing photonic nanomaterials and high-efficiency metal catalysts.