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Engineers identify key factors for wireless power transfer

July 31, 2013 10:00 pm | News | Comments

What happens to a resonant wireless power transfer system in the presence of complex electromagnetic environments, such as metal plates? A team of researchers has explored the influences at play in this type of situation, and they describe how efficient wireless power transfer can be achieved in the presence of metal plates.

Researchers discover universal law for light absorption in 2-D semiconductors

July 31, 2013 5:30 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Berkeley Lab | News | Comments

Many of today’s semiconductor technologies hinge upon the absorption of light. Absorption is critical for nano-sized structures at the interface between two energy barriers called quantum wells, in which the movement of charge carriers is confined to two dimensions. Working with the semiconductor indium arsenide, a team of researchers has discovered a quantum unit of photon absorption that should be general to all 2-D semiconductors.

The best of two worlds: Solar hydrogen production breakthrough

July 29, 2013 2:43 pm | News | Comments

Using a simple solar cell and a photo anode made of a metal oxide, scientists in Europe have successfully stored nearly 5% of solar energy chemically in the form of hydrogen. The significance of the advance is based on the design of the solar cell, which is much simpler than that of the high-efficiency triple-junction cells based on amorphous silicon or class III-V semiconductors.

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Researchers convert cement into an electrical conductor

July 29, 2013 9:48 am | News | Comments

Scientists in Spain have developed a cementitious material incorporating carbon nanofibers in its composition, turning cement into an excellent conductor of electricity capable of performing functions beyond its usual structural function. The transformation relies on the addition of carbonaceous materials.

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.

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.

Using RFID for fiber composites

July 18, 2013 1:48 pm | News | Comments

Antennas that are capable of transmitting radio waves turn components into intelligent objects. Researchers in Germany have now found a way to embed these antennas in fiber composites. As a result, the technology also works with carbon and glass fibers.

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Engineers create broadband photodetector for polarized light

July 16, 2013 2:23 pm | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Using carpets of aligned carbon nanotubes, researchers from Rice University and Sandia National Laboratories have created a solid-state electronic device that is hardwired to detect polarized light across a broad swath of the visible and infrared spectrum.

Nanoribbons research could lead to new generation of lithium-ion batteries

July 16, 2013 8:59 am | News | Comments

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research has been working with Jim Tour’s laboratory at Rice University to make graphene suitable for a variety of organic chemistry applications. Recently, the partnership made another technological advance. Their work has shown that graphene nanoribbons can significantly increase the storage capacity of lithium ion by combining these 2D ribbons with tin oxide.

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.

Scientists make molecular chains hypersensitive to magnetic fields

July 8, 2013 7:55 am | News | Comments

A research collaboration in Europe is the first to successfully create perfect 1-D molecular wires of which the electrical conductivity can almost entirely be suppressed by a weak magnetic field at room temperature. The underlying mechanism is possibly closely related to the biological compass used by some migratory birds to find their bearings in the geomagnetic field.

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.

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New catalyst could replace platinum for automotive applications

July 3, 2013 9:46 am | News | Comments

The research team from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea has developed an inexpensive and scalable bio-inspired composite electrocatalyst, designed using iron phthalocyanine, a macrocyclic compound, anchored to single-walled carbon nanotubes. Under certain conditions, the new catalyst has a higher electrocatalytic activity than platinum-based catalysts, and better durability during cycling.

Bringing color to solar façades

July 2, 2013 12:21 pm | News | Comments

Designers of buildings typically have no choice but to use black or bluish-gray colored solar panels. With the help of thin-film technologies, however, researchers in Germany have now added color to solar cells. Optics specialists have changed physical thickness of the transparent conductive oxide layer, modifying its refractive index.

Team builds ultrasensitive molybdenum-based image sensor

July 2, 2013 12:08 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in Switzerland have designed prototype for an image sensor based on the semiconducting properties of molybdenite. Their sensor only has a single pixel, but it needs five times less light to trigger a charge transfer than the silicon-based sensors that are currently available.

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.

Beyond silicon: Transistors without semiconductors

June 24, 2013 9:04 am | by Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Technological University | News | Comments

Most efforts to move past the limitations of traditional transistors have relied on the use of semiconducting materials. However, alternative materials like boron-nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) may be able to do the same thing through the phenomenon of quantum tunneling. Researchers in Michigan and at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have recently demonstrated precise control of electrons using quantum dot-equipped BNNTs.

Graphene-based system could lead to improved information processing

June 21, 2013 7:40 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have proposed a new system that combines ferroelectric materials with graphene. The resulting hybrid technology could eventually lead to computer and data-storage chips that pack more components in a given area and are faster and less power hungry. The new system works by controlling waves called surface plasmons.

Polymer-coated catalyst protects "artificial leaf"

June 17, 2013 6:42 pm | News | Comments

Electrolysis is often used to produce hydrogen that can be used for a storable fuel. Modified solar cells with highly efficient architecture can use this method to obtain hydrogen from water with the help of catalysts. But these solar cells rapidly corrode in aqueous electrolytes. By embedding the catalysts in an electrically conducting polymer, researchers have prevented this corrosion while maintaining competitive efficiency.

The science of sculpture, nano-style

June 14, 2013 9:53 am | by Angela Herring, Northeastern University | News | Comments

Nanoscopic crys­tals of sil­icon assem­bled like sky­scrapers on wafer-scale sub­strates are being intensely studied as a possible breakthrough in highly efficient battery technologies. A researcher at Northeastern University has been using computational to understand the atomic-scale interactions between the growth of nanowires and new development in this area of technology: alloyed metal droplets.

Imec and Holst Centre unveil fully organic imager

June 12, 2013 9:37 am | News | Comments

At this week’s International Image Sensor Workshop in Utah, Belgium’s imec and Holst Centre, in collaboration with Philips Research, will present a large-area fully-organic photodetector array fabricated on a flexible substrate. The imager is sensitive in the wavelength range suitable for x-ray imaging applications.

Air bubbles could be the secret to artificial skin

June 11, 2013 2:01 pm | by Sarah Perrin, EPFL | News | Comments

Using foam substrates, researchers in Switzerland have made a flexible electronic circuit board. In experiments using various deformable materials, the team discovered a new kind of platform upon which to build circuits: elastomeric foams. These foams, used in packaging materials, serve as a substrate for metallic materials and can be stretched without disrupting electrical conductivity. The breakthrough could progress on electronic skin.

New boron-silicon electrode could boost lithium-ion battery capacity

June 6, 2013 2:04 pm | News | Comments

Silicon can accept ten times more lithium than the graphite used in the electrodes in lithium-ion batteries, but silicon also expands, shortening electrode life. Looking for an alternative to pure silicon, scientists in Germany have now synthesized a novel framework structure consisting of boron and silicon, which could serve as electrode material.

Researchers develop high-efficiency zinc-air battery

May 30, 2013 7:59 am | News | Comments

Stanford University scientists have developed an advanced zinc-air battery with higher catalytic activity and durability than similar batteries made with costly platinum and iridium catalysts. The results could lead to the development of a low-cost alternative to conventional lithium-ion batteries widely used today.

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