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Light-converting materials point to cheaper, more efficient solar power, LEDs

January 30, 2015 7:50 am | by Marit Mitchell, Senior Communications Office, Univ. of Toronto | News | Comments

Engineers are shining new light on an emerging family of solar-absorbing materials that could clear the way for cheaper and more efficient solar panels and LEDs. The materials, called perovskites, are particularly good at absorbing visible light, but had never been studied in their purest form: as perfect single crystals.

Eyeglasses that turn into sunglasses

January 29, 2015 3:52 pm | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Imagine eyeglasses that can go quickly from clear to shaded and back again when you want them to, rather than passively in response to changes in light. Scientists report a major step toward that goal, which could benefit pilots, security guards and others who need such control, in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

New technique for growing high-efficiency perovskite solar cells

January 29, 2015 3:31 pm | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

In Science, Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers reveal a new solution-based hot-casting technique that allows growth of highly efficient and reproducible solar cells from large-area perovskite crystals. The researchers fabricated planar solar cells from pervoskite materials with large crystalline grains that had efficiencies approaching 18%.

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Detecting chemical weapons with a color-changing film

January 29, 2015 8:39 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

In today’s world, in which the threat of terrorism looms, there is an urgent need for fast, reliable tools to detect the release of deadly chemical warfare agents (CWAs). In ACS Macro Letters, scientists are reporting new progress toward thin-film materials that could rapidly change colors in the presence of CWAs.

Researchers design tailored tissue adhesives

January 29, 2015 8:17 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

After undergoing surgery to remove diseased sections of the colon, up to 30% of patients experience leakage from their sutures, which can cause life-threatening complications. Many efforts are under way to create new tissue glues that can help seal surgical incisions and prevent such complications; now, a new study reveals that the effectiveness of such glues hinges on the state of the tissue in which they are being used.

Carbon nanoballs can greatly contribute to sustainable energy supply

January 28, 2015 9:07 am | by Johanna Wilde, Chalmers Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers at Chalmers Univ. of Technology have discovered that the insulation plastic used in high-voltage cables can withstand a 26% higher voltage if nanometer-sized carbon balls are added. This could result in enormous efficiency gains in the power grids of the future, which are needed to achieve a sustainable energy system.

New pathway to valleytronics

January 28, 2015 8:43 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A potential avenue to quantum computing currently generating quite the buzz in the high-tech industry is “valleytronics,” in which information is coded based on the wavelike motion of electrons moving through certain 2-D semiconductors. Now, a promising new pathway to valleytronic technology has been uncovered by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Researchers tune friction in ionic solids at the nanoscale

January 28, 2015 8:26 am | by Christopher R. Samoray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Friction impacts motion, hence the need to control friction forces. Currently, this is accomplished by mechanistic means or lubrication, but experiments conducted by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have uncovered a way of controlling friction on ionic surfaces at the nanoscale using electrical stimulation and ambient water vapor.

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Scaffolding is in charge of calcium carbonate crystals

January 26, 2015 11:45 am | by Mary Beckman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Nature packs away carbon in chalk, shells and rocks made by marine organisms that crystallize calcium carbonate. Now, research suggests that the soft, organic scaffolds in which such crystals form guide crystallization by soaking up the calcium like an "ion sponge". Understanding the process better may help researchers develop advanced materials for energy and environmental uses, such as for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Nanoshuttle wear and tear: It’s the mileage, not the age

January 26, 2015 11:36 am | by Holly Evarts, Columbia Univ. | News | Comments

As nanomachine design rapidly advances, researchers are moving from wondering if the nanomachine works to how long it will work. This is an especially important question as there are so many potential applications, for instance, for medical uses, including drug delivery, early diagnosis, disease monitoring, instrumentation and surgery.

Researchers identify materials to improve biofuel, petroleum processing

January 26, 2015 10:57 am | by Univ. of Minnesota | News | Comments

Using one of the largest supercomputers in the world, a team of researchers led by the Univ. of Minnesota has identified potential materials that could improve the production of ethanol and petroleum products. The discovery could lead to major efficiencies and cost savings in these industries. The Univ. of Minnesota has two patents pending on the research and hopes to license these technologies.

Researchers make magnetic graphene

January 26, 2015 10:22 am | by Univ. of California, Riverside | News | Comments

Graphene has many desirable properties. Magnetism alas is not one of them. Magnetism can be induced in graphene by doping it with magnetic impurities, but this doping tends to disrupt graphene's electronic properties. Now a team of physicists at the Univ. of California, Riverside has found an ingenious way to induce magnetism in graphene while also preserving graphene's electronic properties.

Chromium-centered cycloparaphenylene rings for making functionalized nanocarbons

January 26, 2015 8:51 am | by Institute of Transformative Biomolecules, Nagoya Univ. | News | Comments

A team of chemists at Nagoya Univ. has synthesized novel transition metal-complexed cycloparaphenylenes (CPPs) that enable selective monofunctionalization of CPPs for the first time, opening doors to the construction of unprecedented nanocarbons. The team has synthesized novel CPP chromium complexes and demonstrated their utility in obtaining monofunctionalized CPPs, which could be useful for making carbon nanotubes.

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Improvements in transistors will make flexible plastic computers a reality

January 26, 2015 8:11 am | by National Institute for Materials Science | News | Comments

Researchers in Japan revealed that improvements should soon be expected in the manufacture of transistors that can be used, for example, to make flexible, paper-thin computer screens. The scientists reviewed the latest developments in research on photoactive organic field-effect transistors, devices that incorporate organic semiconductors, amplify weak electronic signals and either emit or receive light.

Structure control unlocks magnetization, polarization simultaneously

January 26, 2015 7:53 am | by Univ. of Liverpool | News | Comments

Scientists at the Univ. of Liverpool have controlled the structure of a material to simultaneously generate both magnetization and electrical polarization, an advance which has potential applications in information storage and processing. The researchers demonstrated that it's possible to unlock these properties in a material which initially displayed neither by making designed changes to its structure.

Graphene edges can be tailor-made

January 23, 2015 3:27 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Theoretical physicists at Rice Univ. are living on the edge as they study the astounding properties of graphene. In a new study, they figure out how researchers can fracture graphene nanoribbons to get the edges they need for applications. New research shows it should be possible to control the edge properties of graphene nanoribbons by controlling the conditions under which the nanoribbons are pulled apart.

Silver nanowires demonstrate unexpected self-healing mechanism

January 23, 2015 1:56 pm | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

With its high electrical conductivity and optical transparency, indium tin oxide is one of the most widely used materials for touchscreens, plasma displays and flexible electronics. But its rapidly escalating price has forced the electronics industry to search for other alternatives. One potential and more cost-effective alternative is a film made with silver nanowires embedded in flexible polymers.

Technique helps probe performance of organic solar cell materials

January 23, 2015 10:33 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

A research team has developed a new technique for determining the role that a material’s structure has on the efficiency of organic solar cells, which are candidates for low-cost, next-generation solar power. The researchers have used the technique to determine that materials with a highly organized structure at the nanoscale are not more efficient at creating free electrons than poorly organized structures.

Nanotechnology changes behavior of materials

January 23, 2015 9:52 am | by Julie Hail Flory, Washington Univ., St. Louis | News | Comments

One of the reasons solar cells are not used more widely is cost: The materials used to make them most efficient are expensive. Engineers are exploring ways to print solar cells from inks, but the devices don’t work as well. A team of engineers has developed a technique to increase the performance and electrical conductivity of thin films that make up these materials using nanotechnology.

Bending acoustic and elastic waves with metamaterials

January 23, 2015 7:51 am | by Jeff Sossamon, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia | News | Comments

Sound waves passing through the air, objects that break a body of water and cause ripples or shockwaves from earthquakes all are considered “elastic” waves. These waves travel at the surface or through a material without causing any permanent changes to the substance’s makeup. Now, researchers have developed a material that has the ability to control these waves.

Is glass a true solid?

January 22, 2015 7:54 am | by Hannah Johnson, Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

Does glass ever stop flowing? Researchers have combined computer simulation and information theory, originally invented for telephone communication and cryptography, to answer this puzzling question. Watching a glass blower at work we can clearly see the liquid nature of hot glass. Once the glass has cooled down to room temperature though, it has become solid and we can pour wine in it or make window panes out of it.

Research aims to improve lithium-based batteries

January 21, 2015 8:31 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Research probing the complex science behind the formation of "dendrites" that cause lithium-ion batteries to fail could bring safer, longer-lasting batteries capable of being charged within minutes instead of hours. The dendrites form on anode electrodes and may continue to grow until causing an internal short circuit, which results in battery failure and possible fire.

One nanoparticle, six types of medical imaging

January 21, 2015 8:22 am | by Charlotte Hsu, Univ. at Buffalo | News | Comments

It’s technology so advanced that the machine capable of using it doesn’t yet exist. Using two biocompatible parts, Univ. at Buffalo researchers and their colleagues have designed a nanoparticle that can be detected by six medical imaging techniques: computed tomography (CT) scanning, positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, photoacoustic imaging, fluorescence imaging, upconversion imaging and Cerenkov luminescence imaging.

Self-assembled nanotextures create antireflective surface on silicon solar cells

January 21, 2015 8:05 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Reducing the amount of sunlight that bounces off the surface of solar cells helps maximize the conversion of the sun's rays to electricity, so manufacturers use coatings to cut down on reflections. Now scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory show that etching a nanoscale texture onto the silicon material itself creates an antireflective surface that works as well as state-of-the-art thin-film multilayer coatings.

Laser-patterning technique turns metals into supermaterials

January 20, 2015 11:14 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

By zapping ordinary metals with femtosecond laser pulses researchers from the Univ. of Rochester have created extraordinary new surfaces that efficiently absorb light, repel water and clean themselves. The multifunctional materials could find use in durable, low maintenance solar collectors and sensors.

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