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Published on November 23rd, 2016 | By: April Gocha, PhD

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Other materials stories that may be of interest

Published on November 23rd, 2016 | By: April Gocha, PhD

[Image above] Credit: NIST

 

NANOMATERIALS

 

Scientists fire micro-cubes at target to change their nanoscale structures

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.

 

 

ENERGY

 

Glow-in-the-dark dye could fuel liquid-based batteries

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.

 

Technology aims to make photovoltaic cells 70% more efficient

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.

 

Perovskite solar cell design could outperform existing commercial technologies

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.

 

Next-generation smartphone battery inspired by the gut

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.

 

New way to make low-cost solar cell technology

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.

 

New record for fusion: Giant leap in pursuit of clean energy

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.

 

New way to image solar cells in 3-D

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.

 

New biofuel cell with energy storage

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.

 

 

ENVIRONMENT

 

Battery cars a better choice for reducing emissions than fuel cells

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.

 

Recovering critical, economically important metals from low-grade ores and waste

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.

 

 

BIOMEDICINE

 

Biomedical ‘skin-like bandage’ is stretchy, durable and long lasting

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.

 

Tiny super magnets could be the future of drug delivery

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.

 

Tiny electronic device can monitor heart, recognize speech

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.

 

 

OTHER RESEARCH

 

Owl-inspired wing design reduces wind turbine noise by 10 decibels

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.

 

‘Nanoparticle taxicab’ materials can identify, collect and transport debris on surfaces

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.

 

Studying structure to understand function within ‘material families’

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.

 

An innovative active platform for wireless damage monitoring of concrete structures

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.

 

Researchers report new thermoelectric material with high power factors

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.

 


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