Just as alchemists always dreamed of turning common metal into gold, their 19th century physicist counterparts dreamed of efficiently turning heat into electricity, a field called thermoelectrics. Such scientists had long known that, in conducting materials, the flow of energy in the form of heat is accompanied by a flow of electrons.
Researchers from Swinburne Univ. of Technology and the Univ. of Science and Technology of China have developed a low-cost technique that holds promise for a range of scientific and technological applications. They have combined laser printing and capillary force to build complex, self-assembling microstructures using a technique called laser printing capillary-assisted self-assembly (LPCS).
There are great hopes for the potential of coastal plants and seaweeds to store carbon and help counter the effects of climate change and a new study is backing that potential. Scientists have carried out the first investigation of how a diverse range of coastal plants and seaweed can contribute to "blue carbon" stocks, the carbon in leaves, sediments and roots that's naturally captured, or sequestered, by plants in coastal habitats.
Enzymes are biological catalysts that accelerate chemical reactions, such as the conversion of gaseous carbon dioxide into carbonates. Carbonates are the basic component of coral reefs, mollusc shells and kidney stones. Although naturally occurring enzymes would be ideal for converting human-generated carbon dioxide emissions into carbonates, they are generally incapable of coping with the extreme conditions of industrial plants.
Quantum computers are in theory capable of simulating the interactions of molecules at a level of detail far beyond the capabilities of even the largest supercomputers today. Such simulations could revolutionize chemistry, biology and materials science, but the development of quantum computers has been limited by the ability to increase the number of quantum bits, or qubits, that encode, store and access large amounts of data.
Biomedical devices that can be implanted in the body for drug delivery, tissue engineering or sensing can help improve treatment for many diseases. However, such devices are often susceptible to attack by the immune system, which can render them useless. A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers has come up with a way to reduce that immune-system rejection.
Researchers have obtained the record-breaking efficiency of 22.1% on nanostructured silicon solar cells as certified by Fraunhofer ISE CalLab. An almost 4% absolute increase to their previous record is achieved by applying a thin passivating film on the nanostructures by Atomic Layer Deposition, and by integrating all metal contacts on the back side of the cell.
The combination of global warming and shifting population means that by mid-century, there will be a huge increase in the number of Americans sweating through days that are extremely hot, a new study says. People are migrating into areas—especially in the South—where the heat is likely to increase more, said the authors of a study published Monday by Nature Climate Change.
Fans of homebrewed beer and backyard distilleries already know how to employ yeast to convert sugar into alcohol. But a research team led by UC Berkeley bioengineers has gone much further by completing key steps needed to turn sugar-fed yeast into a microbial factory for producing morphine and potentially other drugs, including antibiotics and anti-cancer therapeutics.
Engineers have taken a step forward in creating the next generation of computers and mobile devices capable of speeds millions of times faster than current machines. The Utah engineers have developed an ultracompact beamsplitter for dividing light waves into two separate channels of information. The device brings researchers closer to producing silicon photonic chips that compute and shuttle data with light instead of electrons.
Stanford Univ. scientists have solved a long-standing mystery about methanogens, unique microorganisms that transform electricity and carbon dioxide into methane. In a new study, the Stanford team demonstrates for the first time how methanogens obtain electrons from solid surfaces. The discovery could help scientists design electrodes for microbial "factories" that produce methane gas and other compounds sustainably.
Scientists from Paris and Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin have been able to switch ferromagnetic domains on and off with low voltage in a structure made of two different ferroic materials. The switching works slightly above room temperature. Their results, which are published online in Scientific Reports, might inspire future applications in low-power spintronics, for instance for fast and efficient data storage.
Yale Univ. chemists have helped develop a family of new chemical catalysts that are expected to lower the cost and boost the sustainability of the production of chemical compounds used by a number of industries. The new catalysts are based on palladium, a rare and expensive metal. Palladium catalysts are used to form an array of chemical compounds in pharmaceuticals, plastics, agrochemicals and many other industries.
Few things are more refreshing than the kiss of sea spray on your face. You may not realize it, but that cool, moist air influences our climate by affecting how clouds are formed and how sunlight is scattered over the oceans. In ACS Central Science, researchers demonstrate that microbes in seawater can control the chemistry of sea spray ejected into the atmosphere.
A microsupercapacitor designed by scientists at Rice Univ. that may find its way into personal and even wearable electronics is getting an upgrade. The laser-induced graphene device benefits greatly when boron becomes part of the mix. The Rice lab of chemist James Tour uses commercial lasers to create thin, flexible supercapacitors by burning patterns into common polymers.