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New shortcut to solar cells

May 13, 2015 4:38 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have found a way to simplify the manufacture of solar cells by using the top electrode as the catalyst that turns plain silicon into valuable black silicon. Black silicon is silicon with a highly textured surface of nanoscale spikes or pores that are smaller than the wavelength of light. The texture allows the efficient collection of light from any angle, at any time of day.

Nanomaterials inspired by bird feathers

May 13, 2015 12:24 pm | by Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Inspired by the way iridescent bird feathers play with light, scientists have created thin films of material in a wide range of pure colors with hues determined by physical structure rather than pigments. Structural color arises from the interaction of light with materials that have patterns on a minute scale, which bend and reflect light to amplify some wavelengths and dampen others.

Nano-policing pollution

May 13, 2015 11:27 am | by Kaoru Natori, OIST | News | Comments

Pollutants emitted by factories and car exhausts affect humans who breathe in these harmful gases and also aggravate climate change up in the atmosphere. Being able to detect such emissions is a critically needed measure. New research has developed an efficient way to improve methods for detecting polluting emissions using a sensor at the nanoscale.

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Artificial photosynthesis: New, stable photocathode with potential

May 13, 2015 9:14 am | by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin | News | Comments

Many of us are familiar with electrolytic splitting of water from their school days: If you hold two electrodes into an aqueous electrolyte and apply a sufficient voltage, gas bubbles of hydrogen and oxygen are formed. If this voltage is generated by sunlight in a solar cell, then you could store solar energy by generating hydrogen gas. This is because hydrogen is a versatile medium of storing and using "chemical energy".

A new way to manufacture nanofibers

May 13, 2015 8:51 am | by James Hataway, Univ. of Georgia | Videos | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Georgia have developed an inexpensive way to manufacture extraordinarily thin polymer strings commonly known as nanofibers. These polymers can be made from natural materials like proteins or from human-made substances to make plastic, rubber or fiber, including biodegradable materials.

Materials crystallize with surprising properties

May 13, 2015 8:20 am | by American Chemical Society | Videos | Comments

Think about your favorite toys as a child. Did they light up or make funny noises when you touched them? Maybe they changed shape or texture. In ACS Central Science, researchers report a new material that combines many of these characteristics. Beyond being fun, these materials, called organic “supercooled” liquids, may be useful for optical storage systems and biomedical sensors.

A metal composite that will float your boat

May 13, 2015 7:50 am | by Kathleen Hamilton, New York Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated a new metal matrix composite that is so light that it can float on water. A boat made of such lightweight composites will not sink despite damage to its structure. The new material also promises to improve automotive fuel economy because it combines light weight with heat resistance.

Teams performed parallel measurements of the Soret coefficient of the same mixtures containing three different liquids in space, where gravitational effects are dramatically reduced.

Space lab to elucidate how liquid cocktails mix

May 12, 2015 11:24 am | by Springer | News | Comments

What does space experimentation have in common with liquid cocktails? Both help in understanding what happens when multiple fluids are mixed together and subjected to temperature change—a phenomenon ubiquitous in nature and industrial applications such as oil fluids contained in natural reservoirs. The latest experimental data performed in zero gravity on the International Space Station is now available.

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Superhydrophobic glass coating offers clear benefits

May 11, 2015 5:00 pm | by Ron Walli, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

A moth’s eye and lotus leaf were the inspirations for an antireflective water-repelling, or superhydrophobic, glass coating that holds significant potential for solar panels, lenses, detectors, windows, weapons systems and many other products. The discovery is based on a mechanically robust nanostructured layer of porous glass film. The coating can be customized to be superhydrophobic, fog-resistant and antireflective.

Unlocking the creation of wearable electronic devices

May 11, 2015 11:58 am | by Univ. of Exeter | News | Comments

An international team of scientists, including Prof. Monica Craciun from the Univ. of Exeter, have pioneered a new technique to embed transparent, flexible graphene electrodes into fibers commonly associated with the textile industry. The discovery could revolutionize the creation of wearable electronic devices, such as clothing containing computers, phones and MP3 players, which are lightweight, durable and easily transportable.

Out with heavy metal

May 11, 2015 11:29 am | by Dawn Zimmerman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated a new process for the expanded use of lightweight aluminum in cars and trucks at the speed, scale, quality and consistency required by the auto industry. The process reduces production time and costs while yielding strong and lightweight parts, for example delivering a car door that is 62% lighter and 25% cheaper than that produced with today's manufacturing methods.

Whispering gallery for graphene electrons

May 11, 2015 9:08 am | by NIST | News | Comments

An international research group led by scientists at NIST has developed a technique for creating nanoscale whispering galleries for electrons in graphene. The development opens the way to building devices that focus and amplify electrons just as lenses focus light and resonators (like the body of a guitar) amplify sound.

Plugging up leaky graphene

May 8, 2015 7:49 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

For faster, longer-lasting water filters, some scientists are looking to graphene to serve as ultra-thin membranes, filtering out contaminants to quickly purify high volumes of water. Graphene’s unique properties make it a potentially ideal membrane for water filtration or desalination. But there’s been one main drawback to its wider use.

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Improving organic transistors that drive flexible, comfortable electronics

May 5, 2015 12:40 pm | by Janet Lathrop, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst | News | Comments

A revolution is coming in flexible electronic technologies as cheaper, more flexible, organic transistors come on the scene to replace expensive, rigid, silicone-based semiconductors, but not enough is known about how bending in these new thin-film electronic devices will affect their performance, say materials scientists at the Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst.

“Microcombing” creates stronger, more conductive carbon nanotube films

May 5, 2015 9:42 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have developed an inexpensive technique called “microcombing” to align carbon nanotubes, which can be used to create large, pure CNT films that are stronger than any previous such films. The technique also improves the electrical conductivity that makes these films attractive for use in electronic and aerospace applications.

Channeling valleytronics in graphene

May 5, 2015 8:05 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

To the list of potential applications of graphene we can now add valleytronics, the coding of data in the wave-like motion of electrons as they speed through a conductor. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have discovered topologically protected 1-D electron conducting channels at the domain walls of bilayer graphene. These conducting channels are “valley polarized".

Implantable electrode coating good as gold

May 4, 2015 11:51 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

A team of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Univ. of California, Davis, have found that covering an implantable neural electrode with nanoporous gold could eliminate the risk of scar tissue forming over the electrode’s surface. The team demonstrated that the nanostructure of nanoporous gold achieves close physical coupling of neurons by maintaining a high neuron-to-astrocyte surface coverage ratio.

Engineering a better solar cell

May 1, 2015 7:57 am | by Renee Gastineau, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

One of the fastest-growing areas of solar energy research is with materials called perovskites. These promising light harvesters could revolutionize the solar and electronics industries because they show potential to convert sunlight into electricity more efficiently and less expensively than today’s silicon-based semiconductors.

In a diffusive light-scattering medium, light moves on random paths (see magnifying glass). A normal object (left) casts a shadow, an object with an invisibility cloak (right) does not. Courtesy of R. Schittny / KIT

No Hogwarts invitation required: Invisibility cloaks move into real-life classroom

April 30, 2015 11:54 am | by The Optical Society | News | Comments

Who among us hasn't wanted to don a shimmering piece of fabric and instantly disappear from sight? Unfortunately, we non-magical folk are bound by the laws of physics, which have a way of preventing such fantastical escapes. Real-life invisibility cloaks do exist. Researchers have developed a portable invisibility cloak that can be taken into classrooms. It can't hide a human, but it can make small objects disappear from sight.

Making robots more human

April 29, 2015 11:17 am | by ACS | News | Comments

Most people are naturally adept at reading facial expressions — from smiling and frowning to brow-furrowing and eye-rolling — to tell what others are feeling. Now scientists have developed ultra-sensitive, wearable sensors that can do the same thing.

Research Reveals Structures of Gold Nanoparticles

April 27, 2015 10:31 am | by Univ. of Nebraska–Lincoln | News | Comments

They may deal in gold, atomic staples and electron volts rather than cement, support beams and kilowatt-hours, but chemists have drafted new nanoscale blueprints for low-energy structures capable of housing pharmaceuticals and oxygen atoms. New research has revealed four atomic arrangements of a gold nanoparticle cluster.

A silver lining

April 24, 2015 7:43 am | by Julie Cohen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | News | Comments

The silver used by Beth Gwinn’s research group at the Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, has value far beyond its worth as a commodity, even though it’s used in very small amounts. The group works with the precious metal to create nanoscale silver clusters with unique fluorescent properties. These properties are important for a variety of sensing applications including biomedical imaging.

Using the photoactive zinc oxide material, scientists studied the formation and migration of so-called polarons. Courtesy of Patrick Rinke/Aalto University

Pseudoparticles travel through photoactive material

April 23, 2015 10:59 am | by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers ohave unveiled an important step in the conversion of light into storable energy: They studied the formation of so-called polarons in zinc oxide. The pseudoparticles travel through the photoactive material until they are converted into electrical or chemical energy at an interface.

Scientists use nanoscale building blocks and DNA “glue” to shape 3-D superlattices

April 23, 2015 8:17 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Taking child's play with building blocks to a whole new level, the nanometer scale, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have constructed 3-D "superlattice" multicomponent nanoparticle arrays where the arrangement of particles is driven by the shape of the tiny building blocks. The method uses linker molecules made of complementary strands of DNA to overcome the blocks' tendency to pack together.

3D-printed aerogels improve energy storage

April 23, 2015 8:03 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new type of graphene aerogel will make for better energy storage, sensors, nanoelectronics, catalysis and separations. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have made graphene aerogel microlattices with an engineered architecture via a 3D printing technique known as direct ink writing.

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