[Image above] Credit: NIST
Scientists are smashing metallic micro-cubes to make them ultrastrong and tough by rearranging their nanostructures upon impact. The team reports that firing a tiny, nearly perfect cube of silver onto a hard target turns its single-crystal microstructure into a gradient-nano-grained structure.
Could a glow-in-the-dark dye be the next advancement in energy storage technology? Scientists at the University at Buffalo think so. They have identified a fluorescent dye called BODIPY as an ideal material for stockpiling energy in rechargeable, liquid-based batteries that could one day power cars and homes.
Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed a technology that could improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cells by nearly 70%. The breakthrough could be a key for overcoming current technological limitations to harnessing solar power to meet the world’s energy consumption demands.
A new design for solar cells that uses inexpensive, commonly available materials could rival and even outperform conventional cells made of silicon. Researchers from Stanford and Oxford describe using tin and other abundant elements to create novel forms of perovskite—a photovoltaic crystalline material that’s thinner, more flexible and easier to manufacture than silicon crystals.
University of Cambridge researchers have developed a prototype of a next-generation lithium-sulphur battery that takes its inspiration in part from the cells lining the human intestine. The batteries, if commercially developed, would have five times the energy density of the lithium-ion batteries used in smartphones and other electronics.
Researchers at The Australian National University have found a new way to fabricate high efficiency semi-transparent perovskite solar cells in a breakthrough that could lead to more efficient and cheaper solar electricity. They say the new fabrication method significantly improved the performance of perovskite solar cells, which can combine with conventional silicon solar cells to produce more efficient solar electricity.
MIT scientists and engineers recently made a leap forward in the pursuit of clean energy. The team set a new world record for plasma pressure in an Alcator C-Mod tokamak nuclear fusion reactor. Plasma pressure is the key ingredient to producing energy from nuclear fusion, and MIT’s new result achieves over 2 atmospheres of pressure for the first time.
Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab have developed a way to use optical microscopy to map thin-film solar cells in 3-D as they absorb photons. The method images optoelectronic dynamics in materials at the micron scale—small enough to see individual grain boundaries, substrate interfaces, and other internal obstacles that can trap excited electrons and prevent them from reaching an electrode, which saps a solar cell’s efficiency.
Scientists at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the Swedish Malmö University have developed a hybrid of a fuel cell and capacitor on a biocatalytic basis. With the aid of enzymatic processes, what’s known as a biosupercapacitor efficiently generates and stores energy. The trick: the enzymes are embedded in a stable polymer gel, which can store a large amount of energy.
Many communities would be better off investing in electric vehicles that run on batteries instead of hydrogen fuel cells, in part because the hydrogen infrastructure provides few additional energy benefits for the community besides clean transportation.
The EU area is experiencing challenges in sourcing critical metals. Solutions to this are being sought by a new project. Researchers are developing technologies for extracting valuable metals from metallurgical waste and low-grade ores, from which recovery is not yet economically viable. The research is serving European industry, which is dependent on the import of critical metals.
A skin-like biomedical technology that uses a mesh of conducting nanowires and a thin layer of elastic polymer might bring new electronic bandages that monitor biosignals for medical applications and provide therapeutic stimulation through the skin. The biomedical device mimics the human skin’s elastic properties and sensory capabilities.
Microscopic crystals could soon be zipping drugs around your body, taking them to diseased organs. In the past, this was thought to be impossible — the crystals, which have special magnetic properties, were so small that scientists could not control their movement. But now a team of Chinese researchers has found the solution, and their discovery has opened new applications that could use these crystals to improve—and perhaps even save—many lives.
Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Northwestern University have developed a tiny, soft and wearable acoustic sensor that measures vibrations in the human body, allowing them to monitor human heart health and recognize spoken words.
A team of Lehigh University researchers studying the acoustics of owl flight is working to pinpoint the mechanisms that accomplish this virtual silence to improve human-made aerodynamic design—of wind turbines, aircraft, naval ships and, even, automobiles.
Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed polymer-stabilized droplet carriers that can identify and encapsulate nanoparticles for transport in a cell, a kind of “pick up and drop off” service that represents the first successful translation of this biological process in a materials context.
Carbon, silicon, germanium, tin and lead are all part of a family that share the same structure of their outermost electrons, yet range from acting as insulators to semiconductors to metals. Is it possible to understand these and other trends within element families? In a new article, researchers describe probing the relationship between the structure and function of a liquid metal form of the element bismuth.
Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) is playing an important role in evaluationprocess of structural integrity of concrete structures mainly because much of the expected construction demands will have to be accommodated on existing concrete structures with widespread signs of deterioration.
University of Houston researchers report that they have demonstrated a step forward in converting waste heat into electricity. The work, using a thermoelectric compound composed of niobium, titanium, iron, and antimony, succeeded in raising the material’s power output density dramatically by using a very hot pressing temperature—up to 1373 Kelvin, or about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—to create the material.