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Other materials stories that may be of interest

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[Image above] Credit: NIST


Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube textiles, that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

A once forgotten element holds promise for the future of electronics

Discovered more than 100 years ago, black phosphorus was soon forgotten when there was no apparent use for it. In what may prove to be one of the great comeback stories of electrical engineering, it now stands to play a crucial role in the future of electronic and optoelectronic devices.

Controlling electrons in graphene opens a new path to potential electronic devices

For the first time, scientists created a tunable artificial atom in graphene. They demonstrated that a vacancy in graphene can be charged in a controllable way such that electrons can be localized to mimic the electron orbitals of an artificial atom. Importantly, the trapping mechanism is reversible and the energy levels can be tuned.

Team develops novel semiconductor nanofiber with superb charge conductivity

Researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University have developed a novel technology of embedding a highly conductive nanostructure into semiconductor nanofibers. The novel composite has superb charge conductivity and can therefore be widely applied, especially in environmental applications.

Graphene and gold make a better brain probe

A team in Korea developed new brain electrode probes that are small, flexible and read brain signals clearly. Combining gold, zinc oxide nanowires, and a conducting polymer layer increase the probe’s effective surface area, conducting properties, and strength of the electrode, while still maintaining flexibility and compatibility with soft tissue.


Mathematical model may accelerate design of high-power batteries

Research led by a Stanford scientist promises to increase the performance of high-power electrical storage devices. The researchers describe a mathematical model for designing new materials for storing electricity. Advancing new materials for energy storage is an important step toward reducing carbon emissions in the transportation and electricity sectors.

Adjusting solar panel angles a few times a year makes them more efficient

New research from Binghamton University-State of New York could help U.S. residents save more energy, regardless of location, if they adjust the angles of solar panels four to five times a year. The study shows that four adjustments at optimally divided intervals can provide around 25 kW/m2 more power than adjusting the tilt angle four times a year based on seasons.

New battery coating could improve smart phones and electric vehicles

A team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside has discovered that by coating lithium-ion batteries with an organic compound called methyl viologen, they are able to stabilize battery performance, eliminate dendrite growth and increase the lifetime of the battery by more than three times.

Adding manganese atoms dramatically increases solar cell energy conversion

Now, we know that adding small amounts of manganese decreases the ability of quantum dots to absorb light but increases the current produced by an average of 300%. The enhancement is due to the faster rate that the electrons move from the quantum dot to the balance of the solar cell in the presence of the manganese atoms at the interface.


Self-cleaning carbon nanostructure membranes for sustainable desalination

Researchers at Masdar Institute have developed an advanced water treatment membrane made of electrically conductive nanofibers. The group leveraged the electrically conductive nature of carbon nanotubes that are networked, enabling the entire membrane to become completely cleaned when electricity is applied to it.

Degradable electronic components created from corn starch

As consumers upgrade their gadgets at an increasing pace, the amount of electronic waste we generate continues to mount. To help combat this environmental problem, researchers have modified a degradable bioplastic derived from corn starch or other natural sources for use in more eco-friendly electronic components.


Creating time crystals: New form of matter may develop quantum machines

Researchers created a previously-only-theoretical time crystal using a small piece of diamond embedded with millions of atomic-scale impurities known as nitrogen-vacancy centers. They then used microwave pulses to ‘kick’ the system out of equilibrium, causing the center’s spins to flip at precisely-timed intervals.

‘Space fabric’ links fashion and engineering

Systems engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are designing advanced woven metal fabrics for use in space. These fabrics could potentially be useful for large antennas and other deployable devices, because the material is foldable and its shape can change quickly. The fabrics could also eventually be used to shield a spacecraft from meteorites, for astronaut spacesuits, or for capturing objects on the surface of another planet.

Twist and shine: Development of a new photoluminescent sensor material

Stress sensors are important tools when it comes to evaluating the robustness of a material facing strong mechanical forces. OIST researchers have just reported a new kind of sensor molecules that brightens up when the material they are incorporated into comes under heavy mechanical stress.

Harnessing heat to power computers

One of the biggest problems with computers has been finding ways to keep them cool so that they don’t overheat or shut down. Instead of combating the heat, University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineers have embraced it as an alternative energy source that would allow computing at ultra-high temperatures with their development of a nano-thermal-mechanical device, or thermal diode.

Imaging array proves adept at capturing details as small as a fingerprint

A unique camera that can capture a detailed micron-resolution image from a distance uses a laser and techniques that borrow from holography, microscopy, and “Matrix”-style bullet time. A prototype built and tested by engineers at Rice and Northwestern universities reads a spot illuminated by a laser and captures the “speckle” pattern with a camera sensor.