If you picture a solar panel, it’s most likely dark blue or black, and rigid and flat. Now imagine one that’s semi-transparent, ultra-thin and bendable. Scientists are closing in on making the latter version a reality. They report in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces the development of a see-through, bendable solar cell made entirely out of plastic. The device could help power the coming wave of flexible electronics.
Nature loves crystals. Salt, snowflakes and quartz are three examples of crystals—materials characterized by the lattice-like arrangement of their atoms and molecules. Industry loves crystals, too. Electronics are based on a special family of crystals known as semiconductors, most famously silicon. To make semiconductors useful, engineers must tweak their crystalline lattice in subtle ways to start and stop the flow of electrons.
Living cells can make a vast range of products for us, but they don’t always do it in the most straightforward or efficient way. Shota Atsumi, a chemistry professor at the Univ. of California, Davis, aims to address that through “synthetic biology”: designing and building new biochemical pathways within living cells, based on existing pathways from other living things.
“Hydraulic fracturing” (or fracking) and “environmentally friendly” often do not appear in the same sentence together. But as the U.S. teeters on the precipice of a shale gas boom, Northwestern professor Fengqi You is exploring ways to make the controversial activity easier on the environment and the wallet.
For the 12 million people worldwide who suffer from polycystic kidney disease (PKD), an inherited disorder with no known cure, a new treatment option may be on the horizon. PKD is a condition in which clusters of benign cysts develop within the kidneys. They vary in size, and as they accumulate more and more fluid, they can become very large. Among the common complications of PKD are high blood pressure and kidney failure.
Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a computer model that clarifies the complex processes driving ocean mixing in the vast eddies that swirl across hundreds of miles of open ocean.
Traumatic injuries, whether from serious car accidents, street violence or military combat, can lead to significant blood loss and death. But using a material derived from crustacean shells, scientists have now developed a foam that can be sprayed onto an open wound to stop the bleeding. They report their successful tests on pigs in ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering.
On its own, dust seems fairly unremarkable. However, by observing the clouds of gas and dust within a galaxy, astronomers can determine important information about the history of star formation and the evolution of galaxies. Now, a Caltech-led team has been able to observe the dust contents of galaxies as seen just 1 billion years after the Big Bang.
The global rise in antibiotic resistance is a growing threat to public health, damaging our ability to fight deadly infections such as tuberculosis. What’s more, efforts to develop new antibiotics are not keeping pace with this growth in microbial resistance, resulting in a pressing need for new approaches to tackle bacterial infection.
Potential solutions to big problems continue to arise from research that is revealing how materials behave at the smallest scales. The results of a new study to understand the interactions of various metal alloys at the nanometer and atomic scales are likely to aid advances in methods of preventing the failure of systems critical to public and industrial infrastructure.
Univ. of Tokyo researchers have developed a new ink that can be printed on textiles in a single step to form highly conductive and stretchable connections. This new functional ink will enable electronic apparel such as sportswear and underwear incorporating sensing devices for measuring a range of biological indicators such as heart rate and muscle contraction.
Researchers from the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have, for the first time, uncovered the complex interdependence and orchestration of metabolic reactions, gene regulation and environmental cues of clostridial metabolism, providing new insights for advanced biofuel development.
An electronics technology that uses the "spin" of atomic nuclei to store and process information promises huge gains in performance over today's electron-based devices. But getting there is proving challenging. Now researchers at the Univ. of Chicago's Institute for Molecular Engineering have made a crucial step toward nuclear spintronic technologies.
It took marine sponges millions of years to perfect their spike-like structures, but research mimicking these formations may soon alter how industrial coatings and 3-D printed to additively manufactured objects are produced. A new molecular paves the way for improved silica structure design by introducing microscopic, segmented screw-like spikes that can more effectively bond materials for commercial use.
Daily weather patterns have changed in recent decades, making eastern North America, Europe and western Asia more prone to nastier summer heatwaves that go beyond global warming, a new study finds. A team of climate scientists at Stanford Univ. looked at weather patterns since 1979 and found changes in frequency and strength in parts of the world.