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Team demonstrates new paradigm for solar cell construction

November 12, 2013 8:53 am | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Pennsylvania and Drexel Univ. have experimentally demonstrated a new method for solar cell construction which may ultimately make them less expensive, easier to manufacture and more efficient at harvesting energy from the sun. The breakthrough, which is the result of five years of focused research, relies on specifically designed perovskite crystals that deliver a “bulk” photovoltaic effect.

Triboelectric generator harvests energy from vibration of walking

November 12, 2013 8:44 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have recently demonstrated an integrated rhombic gridding based triboelectric nanogenerator, or “TENG”, that has been proven to be a cost-effective and robust approach for harvesting ambient environmental energy.

EPFL's campus has the world's first solar window

November 5, 2013 4:08 pm | News | Comments

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne’s new convention center, opening in April 2014, is being equipped with a glass façade composed of dye solar cells. The project, a world’s first for an exterior window, leverages the potential of dye-sensitive solar cells known as Graetzel cells, which are indifferent to the angle of incidence of light that hits them.

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Researchers develop stretchable wire-shaped supercapacitor

November 5, 2013 9:23 am | by Karen B. Roberts, Univ. of Delaware | News | Comments

Univ. of Delaware materials scientists have successfully developed a compact, stretchable wire-shaped supercapacitor based on continuous carbon nanotube fibers. When subjected to a tensile strain of 100% over 10,000 charge/discharge cycles, the CNT supercapacitor’s electrochemical performance improved to 108%.

Defective nanotubes turned into light emitters

October 31, 2013 11:36 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Basque country in Spain have developed and patented a new source of light emitter based on boron nitride nanotubes. Suitable for developing high-efficiency optoelectronic devices, the structural defects in the nanotubes help make it extremely efficient in ultraviolet light emission.

Nanoscale engineering boosts performance of quantum dot LEDs

October 25, 2013 11:09 am | News | Comments

Quantum dots are nano-sized semiconductor particles whose emission color can be tuned by simply changing their dimensions. New research at Los Alamos National Laboratory aims to improve quantum dot-based light-emitting diodes by using a new generation of engineered quantum dots tailored specifically to have reduced wasteful charge-carrier interactions that compete with the production of light.

SRC launches synthetic biology research effort at six universities

October 24, 2013 9:04 am | News | Comments

Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) has launched a new research program on hybrid bio-semiconductor systems that they hope will provide insights and opportunities for future information and communication technologies. The Semiconductor Synthetic Biology (SSB) program will initially fund research at six universities.

Futuristic copper foam batteries get more bang for the buck

October 24, 2013 8:39 am | News | Comments

Amy Prieto, a chemist at Colorado State Univ. leads a start-up company with the goal of developing a lithium-ion battery that should be safer, cheaper, faster-charging, and more environmentally friendly than conventional batteries now on the market. The key to the technology is copper foam which is easy to manufacture and has high power density.

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Tiny “LEGO brick”-style studs make solar panels a quarter more efficient

October 18, 2013 9:39 am | News | Comments

In new research, scientists have demonstrated that the efficiency of all solar panel designs could be improved by up to 22% by covering their surface with aluminium studs that bend and trap light inside the absorbing layer. At the microscopic level, the studs make the surface of the solar panels look similar to the interlocking building bricks played with by children across the world.

Giga-year storage medium could outlive human race

October 17, 2013 2:14 pm | News | Comments

Although the amount of data that can be stored has increased immensely during the past few decades, it is still difficult to actually store data for a long period of time. A researcher has recently demonstrated a way to store data for extremely long periods, even millions of years, using an etched wafer made of tungsten encapsulated by silicon nitride. The material is resistant to both time and elevated temperatures.

Advanced Light Source provides new look at vanadium dioxide

October 17, 2013 1:37 pm | News | Comments

Vanadium dioxide is one of the few known materials that acts like an insulator at low temperatures but like a metal at warmer temperatures starting around 67 C. This temperature-driven metal-insulator transition, the origin of which is still intensely debated, could be induced by the application of an external electric field. Beamline studies at the Advanced Light Source has shed some light on this potential avenue for faster electronics.

New multi-touch sensor is customizable with scissors

October 15, 2013 2:37 pm | News | Comments

People often customize the size and shape of materials like textiles and wood without turning to specialists like tailors or carpenters. In the future this should be possible with electronics, according to computer scientists who have developed a printable multi-touch sensor whose shape and size can be altered by anybody.

Triboelectric generator sources power from the sea

October 14, 2013 11:49 am | News | Comments

Renewable sources like sun and wind aren’t always productive. But waves in the ocean are never still, prompting Georgia Institute of Technology scientists to find a way to produce energy by making use of contact electrification between a patterned plastic nanoarray and water. They have introduced an inexpensive and simple prototype of a triboelectric nanogenerator that could be used to produce energy and as a chemical or temperature sensor.

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A better device to detect ultraviolet light

October 7, 2013 2:11 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Japan have developed a new photodiode that can detect in just milliseconds a certain type of high-energy ultraviolet light, called UVC, which is powerful enough to break the bonds of DNA and harm living creatures. The new device shows promise for space-based communication and monitoring ozone depletion.

With carbon nanotubes, a path to flexible, low-cost sensors

September 25, 2013 12:59 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in Germany are showing the way toward low-cost, industrial-scale manufacturing of a new family of electronic devices. Gas sensors that could be integrated into food packaging to gauge freshness, new types of solar cells and flexible transistors, and sensors that could be built into electronic skin: All can be made with carbon nanotubes, sprayed like ink onto flexible plastic sheets or other substrates.

The “50-50” chip: Memory device of the future?

September 13, 2013 12:32 pm | News | Comments

A new, environmentally-friendly electronic alloy consisting of 50 aluminum atoms bound to 50 atoms of antimony may be promising for building next-generation "phase-change" memory devices. Phase-change memory is being actively pursued as an alternative to the ubiquitous flash memory for data storage applications, because flash memory is limited in its storage density and phase-change memory can operate much faster.

NRL achieves highest open-circuit voltage for quantum dot solar cells

September 13, 2013 12:05 pm | News | Comments

Using colloidal lead sulfide nanocrystal quantum dot (QD) substances, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) research scientists and engineers have recorded an open-circuit voltage of 692 mV using the QD bandgap of a 1.4 eV under one-sun illumination. The achievement highlights the potential for improvements in QD solar cells by employing smaller quantum dots.

Laser spectroscopy helps measure progress in nanotech design

September 4, 2013 11:24 am | News | Comments

Measuring the band offset faced by electrons jumping from one material to another is a key component of a nanoscale design process because it guides redesign and prototyping. Current methods don’t work on the nanoscale, however. Using laser-induced current in a nanowire device and its dependence on the wavelength of the laser, a team at Drexel Univ. devised a new method to derive the band offset.

Computer model to help design flexible touchscreens

September 4, 2013 7:33 am | News | Comments

Electronic devices with touchscreens rely on transparent conductors made of indium tin oxide, or ITO. But cost and the physical limitations of this material are limiting progress in developing flexible touchscreens. A research collaboration between the Univ. of Pennsylvania and Duke Univ. is exploring the use of nanowires to replace ITO, and are using simulation tools to determine how they might work.

Novel topological crystalline insulator shows mass appeal

August 29, 2013 4:24 pm | News | Comments

Researchers not only confirmed several theoretical predictions about topological crystalline insulators (TCIs), but made a significant experimental leap forward that revealed even more details about the crystal structure and electronic behavior of these newly identified materials. The findings reveal the unexpected level of control TCIs can have over electrons by creating mass.

A new atomic crystal dynamic for titanium dioxide found

August 29, 2013 4:20 pm | News | Comments

Titanium dioxide is an inexpensive, yet versatile material. The use of titanium oxide in the electronics industry is currently being investigated. An international team of researchers has confirmed theoretically-predicted interactions between single oxygen molecules and crystalline titanium dioxide and the implications of these findings could be important for a variety of applications.

Electrons jostling in a traffic jam

August 29, 2013 1:58 pm | News | Comments

Quantum point contacts in electrical circuits are narrow constrictions that can impede the passage of electrons in unexpected ways. Using a combination of experimental measurements and numerical modeling, physicists have recently provided the first detailed microscopic explanation of the associated conductance anomalies.

Ultra-thin insulation coating makes superconducting wires thinner, more efficient

August 28, 2013 8:19 am | News | Comments

Researchers from the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies and Chiba Univ. have developed a high-temperature superconducting wire with an ultrathin polyimide coating only 4 micrometers thick, more than 10 times thinner than the conventional insulation used for high-temperature superconducting wires. The breakthrough should help the development of more compact superconducting coils for medical and scientific devices.

X-rays give a push to Moore’s Law

August 26, 2013 12:05 pm | News | Comments

In recent years, thermoelectric materials have enabled the re-use of otherwise wasted thermal energy as electrical power. But this ability is limited to materials, typically complex crystals, exhibiting high electrical conductivity and low thermal conductivity. Scientists have now discovered a way of suppressing thermal conductivity in sodium cobaltate, opening new paths for energy scavenging.

Breakthrough advances nanomaterials for printable solar cells

August 23, 2013 1:21 pm | News | Comments

A RMIT Univ. research collaboration with top scientists in Australia and Japan is advancing next-generation solar cells. Currently, cadmium or lead elements dominate colloidal nanocrystals synthesis, despite toxicity concerns. In its research, the team has discovered a new selective synthesis of tetrahedrite and famatinite copper antimony sulphide nanocrystals, which could be promising for printable solar cell applications.

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