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[Images above] Credit: NIST


Flat gallium joins roster of new 2-D materials

Scientists at Rice University and the Indian Institute of Science have discovered a method to make atomically flat gallium that is promising for nanoscale electronics. The scientists created 2-D gallenene, a thin film of conductive material that is gallium’s equivalent of graphene.

Insulator or superconductor? Physicists find graphene is both

Now physicists at MIT and Harvard University have found the wonder material can exhibit even more curious electronic properties. The team reports it can tune graphene to behave at two electrical extremes: as an insulator, and as a superconductor.

Nanostructures made of previously impossible material

How do you combine different elements in a crystal? At TU Wien, a method has now been developed for incorporating previously unattainably high proportions of foreign atoms into germanium crystals. This results in new materials with significantly altered properties.

Researchers develop a new class of 2-D materials

A research team led by UCLA scientists and engineers has developed a method to make new kinds of artificial “superlattices”—materials comprised of alternating layers of ultra-thin 2-D sheets, which are only one or a few atoms thick.

Graphene promise for more efficient fertilizers

Fertilizers with lower environmental impacts and reduced costs for farmers are being developed by University of Adelaide researchers in the world-first use of the new advanced material graphene as a fertilizer carrier.


Wind and solar power could meet 80% of US electricity demand

The United States could reliably meet about 80% of its electricity demand with solar and wind power generation, according to scientists at the University of California, Irvine; the California Institute of Technology; and the Carnegie Institution for Science.

A lithium battery that operates at –70ºC, a record low

Researchers in China have developed a battery with organic compound electrodes that can function at –70ºC—far colder than the temperature at which lithium-ion batteries lose most of their ability to conduct and store energy.

Confirmation of century-old speculation on chemistry of high-performance battery

Scientists have discovered a novel chemical state, first proposed about 90 years ago, that enables a high-performance, low-cost sodium-ion battery. The battery could store and distribute energy produced by solar panels and wind turbines across the electrical grid.

Aqueous storage device needs only 20 seconds to go

A research team developed a hybrid energy storage device that can be charged in less than half a minute. It employs aqueous electrolytes instead of flammable organic solvents, and also facilitates a boosting charge with high energy density.

Why polymer solar cells deserve their place in the sun

Unlike traditional silicon solar cells, organic polymer solar cells may never cover the hillsides of a megawatt solar farm. But these lightweight, flexible cells show potential to provide solar power to remote microwatt sensors, wearable technology, and more.

New transistor concept, solar cell included

ICN2 researchers have developed a two-in-one power source plus transistor device that runs on solar energy, which they call a “solaristor.” The device achieves a “transistor effect” by using a ferroelectric oxide to create the heterojunction needed for solar functionality.

Hydrogen extraction breakthrough could be game-changer

Researchers at KTH have successfully tested a new material that can be used for cheap and large-scale production of hydrogen. The researchers concluded that precious metals can be replaced by a much cheaper combination of nickel, iron and copper (NiFeCu).


Enhanced weathering of rocks can help to suck CO2 out of the air—a little

Weathering of huge amounts of tiny rocks could be a means to reduce the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. While this is normally a slow natural process, technological upscaling could make this relevant for so-called negative emissions to help limit climate risks.

Rare mineral discovered in plants for first time

Scientists at Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University have found that the mineral vaterite, a form of calcium carbonate, is a dominant component of the protective silvery-white crust that forms on the leaves of a number of alpine plants.

Single nickel atoms are an efficient, cost-effective catalyst for converting CO2

Researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory are part of a scientific collaboration that has identified a new electrocatalyst that efficiently converts carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide, a highly energetic molecule.

How biofuels from plant fibers could combat global warming

A study from Colorado State University finds new promise for biofuels produced from switchgrass. Scientists used modeling to simulate various growing scenarios, and found a climate footprint ranging from –11 to 10 grams of carbon dioxide per mega-joule.

Impenetrable design in small electronics is unsustainable—what can we do?

Small electronic devices produce a lot of waste destined for landfills. The Consumer Electronics Association reports that the average American household uses around 28 personal electronic devices, most of which will be eventually discarded.


Common bricks can be used to detect past presence of uranium, plutonium

Researchers from North Carolina State University have demonstrated a technique that can determine whether bricks have ever been near a radiological source, and identify the specific type of source, such as high enriched uranium or plutonium.

Squid skin could be the solution to camouflage material

Squids and octopuses are masters of disguise and humans have long envied their camouflage capabilities. A chemistry professor teamed up with the U.S. Army to find out how these colorful creatures do it, turning the animal’s pigment particles into spools of fiber with many uses.

Printing of flexible, stretchable silver nanowire circuits

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new technique that allows them to print circuits on flexible, stretchable substrates using silver nanowires. The advance makes it possible to integrate the material into a wide array of electronic devices.

Scientists develop material for new type of liquid crystal display

A team developed a new liquid crystal material with high potential as a basis for brighter, faster, energy saving displays with higher resolution. Scientists developed a a ferroelectric liquid crystal, which is stable against mechanical stress.

NIST sharpens the ‘Charpy’ test to make more precise impact on industrial materials

The “Charpy” test is the standard used worldwide to judge the impact resistance of metals. Now it is about to be significantly improved, thanks in large measure to a cooperative research program by scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Entangled LED first to operate in the telecom window

Researchers have demonstrated the first quantum LED that emits single photons and entangled photon pairs with a wavelength of around 1550 nm, which lies within the standard telecommunications window.

Direct observation of topology hidden inside materials

Topology hidden inside materials in the matter group called cerium monopnictides has been determined for the first time in the world. A joint research group observed topological phase transition in which a material changes to the topological electronic phase by using soft X-rays.