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[Image above] Credit: NIST


Flatter materials have fewer imperfections, which makes for better solar cells and light sensors

Improving the efficiency of solar cells requires materials free from impurities and structural defects. Scientists across many disciplines at KAUST have shown that 2-D organic-inorganic hybrid materials feature far fewer defects than thicker 3-D versions.

Landscapes give latitude to 2-D material designers

Rice University researchers predict and experimentally confirm that 2-D materials grown onto a cone allow control over where defects appear. These defects, called grain boundaries, can be used to enhance the materials’ electronic, mechanical, catalytic, and optical properties.

Engineers find better way to detect nanoparticles

An engineering team at Washington University has made major strides recently in the study and manipulation of light. The team’s most recent discovery of the sensing capability of microresonators could have impacts in the creation of biomedical devices, electronics, and biohazard detection devices.

Controlled manipulation of carbon nanostructures
Researchers around the world are looking at how they can manipulate the properties of carbon nanostructures to make the promising mini-format materials commercially viable. A research team has now managed to selectively influence the properties of hybrid systems consisting of carbon nanostructures and a dye.


New battery material goes with the flow

A new material shows promise for batteries that store electricity for the grid. The material, created by scientists at Argonne National Laboratory, consists of carefully structured molecules designed to be particularly electrochemically stable to prevent the battery from losing energy to unwanted reactions.

Carbonitride aerogels as lightweight catalyst for artificial photosynthesis

Scientists report the synthesis of a macroscopic aerogel from carbonitride nanomaterials that is an excellent catalyst for the water-splitting reaction under visible-light irradiation. The study adds new opportunities to the material properties of melamine-derived carbonitrides.

Flexible batteries power the future of wearable technology

Wearable technology has received another boost from using graphene for printed electronic devices. New research from The University of Manchester demonstrates flexible battery-like devices printed directly on to textiles using a simple screen-printing technique.

Army, university stretch battery life for mobile devices

Scientists from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and Brown University have teamed up to look deep inside batteries to address the difficulty of characterizing and then engineering the solid electrolyte interphase layer that forms on the anode of lithium ion batteries, with particular emphasis on experimental silicon anodes with very high capacities for lithium.

Vertical axis wind turbines can offer cheaper electricity for urban and suburban areas

Researchers from the University of Utah show that small vertical axis wind turbines possess the ability to effectively operate in the presence of high turbulent flow, which makes them ideal energy harvesting devices in urban and suburban environments.

Dual-surface graphene electrode splits water into hydrogen and oxygen

Rice University chemists have produced a catalyst based on laser-induced graphene that splits water into hydrogen on one side and oxygen on the other side. They said the inexpensive material may be a practical component in generating the hydrogen for use in future fuel cells.

New battery is activated by your spit

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York have developed the next step in microbial fuel cells: a high-performance, paper-based, bacteria-powered battery activated by spit that can be used in extreme conditions where normal batteries don’t function.


New additive helps researchers more selectively convert CO2 to multicarbon fuels

A Caltech team has identified a new additive that helps selectively convert CO2 into fuels containing multiple carbon atoms—a step toward ultimately making renewable liquid fuels that are not derived from coal or oil.

Affordable lead sensor for home, city water lines

A new electronic lead sensor, potentially costing around $20, could keep an eye on home and city water quality, alerting residents and officials to the presence of lead within nine days. University of Michigan researchers are seeking partners to bring the technology to market.

A battery-inspired strategy for carbon fixation

Using a design intended for a lithium-CO2 battery, researchers have developed a way to isolate solid carbon dust from gaseous carbon dioxide, with the potential to also separate out oxygen gas through the same method.


Gold specks raise hopes for better cancer treatments

A tiny medical device containing gold specks could boost the effects of cancer medication and reduce its harm, research suggests. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh discovered properties of the precious metal that allow these catalytic abilities to be accessed in living things without any side effects.

Stick-on patch collects, analyzes, and wirelessly transmits a variety of health metrics

A new, electronic skin microsystem tracks heart rate, respiration, muscle movement, and other health data and wirelessly transmits it to a smartphone. The self-adhesive electronic skin patch—which is a very soft silicone about 4 cm in diameter—can stick just about anywhere on the body.

Building a graphene-based nanotube biosensor

Researchers at EPFL are developing an optical, microfluidic biosensor that can detect single biomolecules in a scalable, high-throughput manner. The biosensor itself is made up of carbon nanotubes, which can emit light in the near-infrared spectrum when excited with a laser.


New ultrathin semiconductor materials exceed some of silicon’s ‘secret’ powers

Engineers at Stanford have identified two semiconductors—hafnium diselenide and zirconium diselenide—that share or even exceed some of silicon’s desirable traits, starting with the fact that all three materials can “rust.”

Machine learning of grain boundaries could be key to producing stronger, less corrosive metals

While researchers have studied grain boundaries for decades, no one has been able to predict if a certain configuration of atoms will make a material stronger or more pliable. A Brigham Young University team has cracked the code by juicing a computer with an algorithm that allows it to learn the elusive “why” behind the boundaries’ qualities.

Novel microporous material regulates temperature

A novel porous material can soak up excessive humidity in a room only to release it again when the humidity falls. Now KAUST researchers have devised a metal-organic framework material that monitors its own properties.

New solid lubricant shown to reduce friction and wear on steel surfaces

Researchers have created a new type of non-liquid lubricant—a composite made from a slurry of graphene, zinc oxide, and polyvinylidene difluoride—that can reduce friction and wear significantly under the extreme conditions found in various applications, from air compressors to missile systems.

Researchers find path to discovering new topological materials

Researchers has found a way to determine whether a crystal is a topological insulator—and to predict crystal structures and chemical compositions in which new ones can arise. The results show that topological insulators are much more common in nature than currently believed.

Software lets designers exploit the extremely high resolution of 3-D printers

Researchers at MIT have developed a new design system that catalogues the physical properties of a huge number of tiny cube clusters that can serve as building blocks for larger printable objects. The system thus takes advantage of physical measurements at the microscopic scale, while enabling computationally efficient evaluation of macroscopic designs.