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New “nanobiocomposite” material made from nanotubes and butterfly wings

August 28, 2013 2:28 pm | News | Comments

Leveraging the amazing natural properties of the Morpho butterfly's wings, scientists have developed a hybrid material that shows promise for wearable electronic devices, highly sensitive light sensors and sustainable batteries. A honeycomb network of carbon nanotubes has actually been grown on Morpho butterfly wings, creating a composite material that can be activated with a laser.

NASA tests limits of 3-D printing with powerful rocket engine check

August 28, 2013 8:27 am | News | Comments

The largest 3-D printed rocket engine component NASA hsa ever tested blazed to life Thursday, Aug. 22 during an engine firing that generated a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. This test is a milestone for one of many important advances the agency is making to reduce the cost of space hardware.

Chemical engineers' research may lead to inexpensive, flexible solar cells

August 22, 2013 8:46 am | News | Comments

Most solar cells today are inorganic and made of crystalline silicon. These cells tend to be expensive, rigid and relatively inefficient when it comes to converting sunlight into electricity. Work by a team of chemical engineers at Penn State Univ. and Rice Univ. may lead to a new class of inexpensive organic solar cells, one that skips difficult-to-scale fullerene acceptors and relies on molecular self-assembly instead.

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A durable, bacteria-killing surface for hospitals

August 20, 2013 12:13 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at Switzerland have developed a new method for making antimicrobial surfaces that can eliminate bacteria under a minute. The breakthrough relies on a new sputtering technique that uses a highly ionized plasma to, for the first time, deposit antibacterial titanium oxide and copper films on 3-D polyester surfaces. This promotes the production of free radicals, which are powerful natural bactericides.

Making a mini Mona Lisa

August 6, 2013 12:09 pm | News | Comments

The world’s most famous painting has now been created on the world’s smallest canvas. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have “painted” the Mona Lisa on a substrate surface approximately 30 micrometers in width—or one-third the width of a human hair. The team’s creation, the “Mini Lisa,” demonstrates a technique that could potentially be used to achieve nanomanufacturing of devices.

Ultrathin saw for cutting silicon is made of carbon nanotubes

August 1, 2013 9:09 am | News | Comments

Semiconductor manufacturers look for ways to save wafer material. According to recent research, ultra-thin saws made of carbon nanotubes and coated with diamond would be able to cut through silicon wafers with minimum loss. A new method that grows both nanotubes and diamonds makes it possible to manufacture the saw wires.

Micro-optical method thwarts counterfeiting

July 31, 2013 9:55 pm | News | Comments

In an effort to thwart forgeries, researchers in Switzerland have proposed a new miniaturized authentication system. By combining moiré patterns and microlithography techniques, authorities can be easily recognize counterfeits with the naked eye and counterfeiters will find it impossible to reproduce items through currently existing printer or scanner technology.

Center creates new polymers from safe, renewable resources

July 25, 2013 7:23 pm | by Marlene Cimons, National Science Foundation, Center for Sustainable Polymers | News | Comments

Scientists are working to reduce the nation's reliance on fossil fuels by developing environmentally friendly and cost effective plastics from natural, sustainable and renewable materials, such as vegetable oils, starches, sugars—even recycled grass clippings. The Univ. of Minnesota’s Center for Sustainable Polymers has recruited more than 25 companies to help develop new materials and those already on the market, like polylactide.

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Technology could bring high-end solar to the masses

July 25, 2013 8:19 am | by Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Researchers in California have demonstrated that indium phosphide, a III-V compound, can be grown on thin sheets of metal foil in a process that is faster and cheaper than traditional methods, yet still comparable in optoelectronic characteristics. Indium phosphide is among the high-performance solar converter, but has been up to 10 times as expensive as silicon to integrate in photovoltaic cells.

Environmentally friendly battery made from wood

July 24, 2013 12:01 pm | News | Comments

Taking inspiration from trees, scientists have developed a battery made from a sliver of wood coated with tin that shows promise for becoming a tiny, long-lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly energy source. The device, developed at the Univ. of Maryland, is 1,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper.

Direct nitrogen fixation could allow low-cost energy conversion

July 24, 2013 10:15 am | News | Comments

Fixation processes free up nitrogen atoms from their diatomic form, but nitrogen does not easily react with other chemicals to form new compounds. Researchers in South Korea have invented a simple and eco-friendly method of creating nitrogen-doped graphene nanoplatelets that simultaneously facilitates the nitrogen-fixation process and creates useful tools for building dye-sensitized solar cells and fuel cells.

New technology prevents degradation of silicon PV modules

July 23, 2013 8:23 am | News | Comments

Diffusion of sodium ions from the glass substrate is thought to be the primary cause of potential-induced degradation (PID) in crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells. A research institute and metals company in Japan have partnered to develop a thin film solution. The titanium oxide-based composite metal compound they have developed is inexpensive to produce and highly scalable.

Two-in-one: New material could enable low-cost polymer LEDs, solar cells

July 22, 2013 9:26 am | News | Comments

Researchers in South Korea have reported the development of a new plasmonic material that can be applied to both polymer light-emitting diodes (PLEDs) and polymer solar cells (PSCs), resulting in high performance from a low-cost fabrication process. They say the material is easy to synthesize with basic equipment and has low-temperature solution processability.

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Elastic electronics: Stretchable gold conductor grows its own wires

July 18, 2013 4:57 pm | News | Comments

Flexible electronics have a wide variety of possibilities, from bendable displays and batteries to medical implants that move with the body. Networks of spherical nanoparticles embedded in elastic materials may make the best stretchy conductors yet, engineering researchers at the Univ. of Michigan have discovered.

ASU center produces largest flexible color organic light emitting display

July 18, 2013 4:28 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at Arizona State Univ. have successfully manufactured the world’s largest flexible color organic light emitting display prototype using advanced mixed oxide thin film transistors. Measuring 7.4 diagonal inches, the device was developed at ASU’s Flexible Display Center in conjunction with Army Research Labs scientists.

Hamilton Scientific continues expansion to LEED-certified building

July 18, 2013 4:23 pm | News | Comments

Hamilton Scientific, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of laboratory furniture and fume hoods, has moved its corporate headquarters from Two Rivers, Wisconsin to a new, LEED-certified, 20,000-square-foot building in De Pere, Wisconsin.

Researchers develop 3-D display with no ghosting for viewers without glasses

July 16, 2013 2:12 pm | by Tim Stephens, UC Santa Cruz | News | Comments

With existing 3-D television displays, viewers must wear stereo glasses to get the effect of seeing images on the screen in three dimensions, while viewers without the glasses see a blurry image. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, have developed a prototype for 3-D+2-D television that allows viewers with stereo glasses to see 3-D images, while viewers without the glasses see a normal 2-D image.

Invention transforms plain surfaces into low-cost touchscreens

July 10, 2013 9:26 am | News | Comments

A low-cost system developed in Singapore, based on the principles of vibration and imaging, can turn a whiteboard, glass window or even a wooden tabletop into a responsive, touch-sensitive surface. According to its developers, retrofitting the system onto existing flat-panel TVs will transform them into new, touch-sensitive display screens.

Silicon oxide memories transcend a hurdle

July 9, 2013 11:45 am | by Mike Williams, Rice University | News | Comments

A team led by Rice University chemist James Tour has built a 1-kilobit rewritable device with diodes that eliminate data-corrupting crosstalk. This chip, which uses cheap, plentiful silicon oxide to store data, shows it should be possible to surpass the limitations of flash memory in packing density, energy consumption per bit and switching speed.

Antifreeze, cheap materials may lead to low-cost solar energy

July 8, 2013 7:40 am | News | Comments

Engineers at Oregon State Univ. have determined that ethylene glycol, commonly used in antifreeze products, can be a low-cost solvent that functions well in a “continuous flow” reactor—an approach to making thin-film solar cells that is easily scaled up for mass production at industrial levels.

Underwater propulsion supplied with the help of a 3-D printer

July 1, 2013 12:15 pm | News | Comments

Using the octopus as inspiration, researchers in Germany have built a silent propulsion system for boats and water sport devices. The actuator works by sucking water into an elastomer ball, which is then contracted by a hydraulic piston. The most compelling feature is that the designers can produce the system in a single step with a 3-D printer.

NREL reports record efficiency for a two-junction solar cell

June 25, 2013 1:21 pm | News | Comments

At the IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference in Tampa, Fla. last week, National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientist Myles Steiner announced a world record of 31.1% conversion efficiency for a two-junction solar cell under one sun of illumination. The achievement edges the previous record of 30.8% by Alta Devices.

Leading 3-D printer firms to merge in $403M deal

June 19, 2013 7:08 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Stratasys, a leading maker of 3-D printers, is buying another 3-D printer manufacturer, MakerBot, for $403 million in stock. Stratasys Ltd. says the acquisition will enable it to offer affordable desktop 3-D printers. MakerBot's owners will receive 4.76 million newly issued Stratasys shares and are eligible for another 2.38 million through the end of 2014 if certain performance targets are met.

Rapid prototyping conference breaks past attendance records

June 19, 2013 12:11 am | News | Comments

More than 2,500 attendees turned out for the 2013 RAPID Conference and Exposition, almost doubling last year’s attendance and reflecting widespread excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing, according to event organizer SME. It included attendees from nearly 30 countries and the U.S.

Printing tiny batteries

June 18, 2013 1:52 pm | News | Comments

3-D printing can now be used to print lithium-ion microbatteries the size of a grain of sand. The printed microbatteries could supply electricity to tiny devices in fields from medicine to communications, including many that have lingered on laboratory benches for lack of a battery small enough to fit the device, yet provide enough stored energy to power them.

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