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[Image above] Credit: NIST


Paper-based supercapacitor uses metal nanoparticles to boost energy density

Using a simple layer-by-layer coating technique, researchers from the U.S. and Korea have developed a paper-based flexible supercapacitor that could be used to help power wearable devices. The device uses metallic nanoparticles to coat cellulose fibers in the paper.

New ultralight silver nanowire aerogel is boon for energy and electronics industries

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have created a new ultralight silver nanowire aerogel that could lead to advances in fuel cells, energy storage, medical devices and electronics. It is so light that it could lay on a fragile rosebud without the flower wilting.

Nanoplatelets improve the brightness of LEDs, lasers, and LCD screens

New semiconductor nanoplatelets synthesized in laboratories can improve the brightness of LEDs, lasers, and LCD screens of computers or televisions because they allow to minimize energy losses compared to current semiconductor materials.

Superconductivity found in thin films of titanium oxide

Many of us are familiar with titanium dioxide. Less well known are other higher titanium oxides—those with a higher number of titanium and oxygen atoms than TiO—that are now the subject of intensifying research due to their potential use in next-generation electronic devices.

Graphene forged into 3-D shapes

Researchers have discovered how graphene can be forged into 3-D objects by using laser light. A striking illustration was provided when the researchers fabricated a pyramid with a height of 60 nm, which is about 200 times larger than the thickness of a graphene sheet.

New test opens path for better 2-D catalysts

Rice University researchers have taken a deep look into atom-thick catalysts that produce hydrogen to see precisely where it’s coming from. Their findings could accelerate the development of 2-D materials for energy applications, such as fuel cells.

New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater

University of Central Florida researchers have come up with a new hybrid nanomaterial, composed of titanium dioxide and 2-D molybdenum disulfide, that harnesses solar energy and uses it to generate hydrogen from seawater more cheaply and efficiently than current materials.


A new way to improve solar cells can also benefit self-driving cars

When a team of engineers went to work in 2015 looking for a new technique to boost the cost-effectiveness of solar cells, they didn’t realize they’d end with a bonus—a way to help improve the collision avoidance systems of self-driving cars.

Perovskite solar cells reach record long-term stability, efficiency over 20%

Scientists have greatly improved the operational stability of perovskite solar cells by introducing cuprous thiocyanate protected by a thin layer of reduced graphene oxide. Devices lost less than 5% performance when subjected to a crucial accelerated aging test during which they were exposed for more than 1,000 hours to full sunlight at 60°C.

Magnetic electrodes increase solar cell efficiency

An international research collaborative has developed a photovoltaic cell in which magnetic materials such as electrodes are used for the first time to provide current. The research reportedly “is opening up a new channel for converting light into electrical power more efficiently.”

NRL patents carbon capture device, key step in synthetic fuel production from seawater

Researchers at NRL have developed and received a U.S. patent for an electrolytic-cation exchange module (E-CEM). Under this design, the E-CEM is capable of simultaneously extracting carbon dioxide from seawater and producing hydrogen fuel.


Smart bandage could promote better, faster healing

Researchers have designed a smart bandage consisting of electrically conductive fibers coated in a gel that can be individually loaded with infection-fighting antibiotics, tissue-regenerating growth factors, painkillers, or other medications.

Novel circuit design boosts wearable thermoelectric generators

Using flexible conducting polymers and novel circuitry patterns printed on paper, researchers have demonstrated proof-of-concept wearable thermoelectric generators that can harvest energy from body heat to power simple biosensors for measuring heart rate, respiration or other factors.

Light-activated quantum dots can supercharge current antibiotics

Light-activated nanoparticles, also known as quantum dots, can provide a crucial boost in effectiveness for antibiotic treatments used to combat drug-resistant superbugs such as E. coli and Salmonella, new research shows.

Heart: No evidence for piezoelectricity or ferroelectricity in the aorta

While some studies have supported the idea that the walls of the aorta are piezoelectric or ferroelectric, the most recent research finds no evidence of these properties. Experiments on pig aorta suggest that it has no special properties, and instead acts as a standard dielectric material that does not conduct current.

Heat-tempered magnesium alloy a strong choice for implants

The rapid breakdown of magnesium implants in the body sometimes results in the formation of hydrogen bubbles that can lead to serious complications. In a unique collaboration, researchers are developing and testing alloys of magnesium that are treated to improve strength and slow down the degradation process, thereby avoiding the formation of these bubbles.


Brainstorm: Making prototypes reflect real-world manufacturing constraints

3-D printing and other rapid prototyping technologies can lead designers astray because they don’t have the same constraints that other production technologies are subject to. We asked several experts in prototyping for tips on avoiding capability mismatches, and strategies for choosing the right prototyping process for a particular application.

Multi jet fusion opens door wider for production of functional 3-D-printed parts

Technology giant HP has developed and recently launched multi jet fusion, an industrial-grade 3-D printing technology that quickly and accurately produces functional prototypes and end-use parts for a variety of applications.

Team builds flexible new platform for high-performance electronics

A team of University of Wisconsin–Madison engineers has created the most functional flexible transistor in the world—and with it, a fast, simple and inexpensive fabrication process that’s easily scalable to the commercial level.


Insight into cement’s microscopic properties may lead to stronger, more sustainable concrete

MIT researchers have discovered the beginnings of a new approach to producing concrete that is inspired by the hierarchical arrangements of simple building blocks in natural materials. The findings could lead to new ways to make concrete stronger and to use more sustainable, local materials as additives, to offset concrete’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Project reveals benefits of communicating with industry when conducting research

When Shreya Dave was an MIT doctoral student working on a new kind of filter for desalination plants, she paid a visit to a working reverse-osmosis desalination plant in Spain. She quickly learned an important lesson that she now says she would likely have missed if she’d stayed in the lab.

Ultra-fast and ultra-sensitive hydrogen sensor

A KAIST team made an ultra-fast hydrogen sensor based on a palladium nanowire array coated with a metal-organic framework that can detect hydrogen gas levels under 1% in less than seven seconds. The sensor also can detect hundreds of parts per million levels of hydrogen gas within 60 seconds at room temperature.

Atomistic simulations go the distance on metal strength

Lawrence Livermore National Lab researchers predict that, on reaching certain critical conditions of straining, metal plasticity meets its limits. One limit is reached when dislocations are no longer able to relieve mechanical loads, and twinning is activated and takes over as the dominant mode of dynamic response.

New ‘building material’ points toward quantum computers

New research indicates it is possible to produce ‘Majorana particles’ in a new ‘building material.’ The study paves the road for new types of experiments—and at the same time represents an important contribution to the construction of the information circuits of tomorrow.

Appearance of anisotropic electrical property in oriented material

In the Li2O-Nb2O5-TiO2 (LNT) system, LNT forms a unique superstructure. To enable application of this unique structure, a research team from Toyohashi University of Technology fabricated oriented LNT bulk ceramics like a single crystal by slip casting in a strong magnetic field of 12 T.

Tungsten offers nano-interconnects a path of least resistance

A pair of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute conducted electron transport measurements in epitaxial single-crystal layers of tungsten as a potential interconnect solution for microchips. The anisotropic resistivity effect they found was most marked between layers with two particular orientations of the lattice structure.