Other materials stories that may be of interest

By Eileen De Guire / November 15, 2011

A fully automated robot arm pours molten glass into the sample mold. Credit: Knud Dobberke; Fraunhofer ISC. Check ’em out: Instant-on computers may be possible with modified materials Researchers from three NSF-supported Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers at Penn State and Cornell recently added ferroelectric capability to materials used in common computer transistors–a feat…

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ARPA-E awards $37.3M for disruptive thermal storage innovations, materials

By / October 13, 2011

Abengoa, designer of novel concentrating solar power towers, is a participant in several new ARPA-E funded projects for storing thermal energy. Credit: Abengoa Last week Eileen reported on ARPA-E’s new awards in rare-earth alternative technologies. This week I thought I would take a look at APRA-E’s $37.3 million initiative to find a disruptive thermal storage…

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Supercomputer simulations reveal entropy roots of water penetration of CNTs

By / August 15, 2011

Representation of Caltech team’s simulations of a 2.0 nm-diameter carbon nanotube, revealing confined water molecules. Credit: Tod Pascal, Caltech. A recent issue of PNAS had an intriguing article that discusses the interplay among carbon nanotubes, water molecules’ hydrogen bonding and entropy, and its worth noting that the Caltech researchers involved in this work say the result might…

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Materials stories that may also be of interest

By / July 29, 2011

Sun-free photovoltaics: Silicon chip micro-reactors contain photonic crystals on both flat faces, with external tubes for injecting fuel and air and ejecting waste products. In use, these reactors would have a photovoltaic cell mounted against each face to convert the emitted wavelengths of light to electricity. Credit: Justin Knight, MIT. Check ’em out: • Uh oh,…

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Solar reactor to make fuel from sunlight

By / December 27, 2010

Researchers have developed a prototype device that directly converts sun rays into fuels that can be stored. The BBC reports that the devices uses a quartz window and cavity to focus sunlight into a cylinder lined with cerium oxide. According to Gizmag, ceria is hygroscopic and will also absorb carbon dioxide. As the sunlight heats…

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Silicon nanomesh demonstrated as thermal conductivity barrier for improving thermoelectrics

By / October 5, 2010

Top: A scanning electron microscope image shows the grid of tiny holes in the nanomesh material. Bottom: In this drawing, each sphere represents a silicon atom in the nanomesh. The colorful bands show the temperature differences on the material, with red being hotter and blue being cooler. Credit: Heath group/Caltech. Thermoelectric materials have great promise…

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Now the author claims it’s a ‘joke’

By / July 2, 2010

Postdoc hell, circa 1996. What a laugh riot it must have been working for this guy at Caltech. ‘In addition to the usual work-day schedule, I expect all of the members of the group to work evenings and weekends. You will find that this is the norm here at Caltech.’ Elsewhere?

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School of fish offers new school of thought for turbine design

By / May 20, 2010

Researchers at CalTech have found that schooling fish unlock clues to better vertical axis wind turbines, which could yield as much as 10 times more energy from the same amount of space. According to a press release, fluid-dynamics expert John Dabiri uses bioinspiration for coming up with better solutions for water and wind energy. According…

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Metamaterial discovery could improve light collection for solar cells

By / April 28, 2010

Caltech researchers, led by Harry Atwater, have engineered a type of metamaterial that allows it to bend light in part of the visible spectrum from nearly any angle toward an optimal direction. They report that this artificial optical material can handle light with any polarization over a broad range of incident angles, making it the…

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Caltech group demonstrates efficient 3D solar array

By / February 18, 2010

The idea of using fibers, wires or some other protruding structures to provide a three-dimensional surface for enhancing the energy-capturing capabilities of photovoltaic units seems to be catching on. The most recent announcement comes from the California Institute of Technology where a team of researchers has successfully used tiny silicon wires contained in a flexible…

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