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High-efficiency neutron imaging detector features new oblique design

March 31, 2013 6:53 pm | News | Comments

To increase the neutron detection efficiency of bulk-micromegas (MICRO-MEsh GAseous Structure) neutron detectors, researchers from China and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville have proposed three new types of thin-film converters: micro-channel, parallel micro-pillar, and oblique micro-pillar 2D array. When validated using Monte Carlo simulations, the latter design showed a threefold increase in neutron detection efficiencies.

Hybrid ribbons a gift for powerful batteries

March 25, 2013 12:21 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice University | News | Comments

According to recent research at Rice University, vanadium oxide and graphene may be a key new set of materials for improving lithium-ion storage. Ribbons created at Rice from these two materials are thousands of times thinner than a sheet of paper, yet have potential that far outweighs current materials for their ability to charge and discharge very quickly. Initial capacity remains at 90% or more after more than 1,000 cycles.

Nanowire solar cells raise efficiency limit

March 25, 2013 8:35 am | News | Comments

The typical solar cell efficiency limit―called the "Shockley-Queisser Limit"―has for many years has been a landmark for solar cell efficiency. Scientists from at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen and other colleagues have shown that a single nanowire can increase this limit by concentrating sunlight up to 15 times normal intensity.

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New flash memory combines graphene and molybdenite

March 20, 2013 9:09 am | News | Comments

Two years ago, a research team in Switzerland revealed the promising electronic properties of molybdenite, a mineral that is abundant in nature. Several months later, they demonstrated the possibility of building an efficient molybdenite chip. Today, they've combined two materials with advantageous electronic properties—graphene and molybdenite—into a promising flash memory prototype.

Cuprate superconductors defy convention

March 19, 2013 10:35 am | News | Comments

In physics, Luttinger’s theorem states that the number of electrons in a material is the same as the number of electrons in all of its atoms added together. But physicists at the University of Illinois and the University of Pennsylvania found that for copper-containing superconductors, known as cuprates, electrons are not enough to carry the current

Honeycomb nets from bismuth cubes

March 19, 2013 8:07 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Dresden have discovered a new material that conducts electric currents without loss of power over its edges and remains an insulator in its interior. The material is made out of bismuth cubes packed in a honeycomb motif that is known from the graphene structure. As opposed to graphene, the new material exhibits its peculiar electrical property at room temperature, giving it promise for applications in nanoelectronics.

Peratech working on “nose in clothes" for wearable electronics

March 18, 2013 10:49 am | News | Comments

Touch technology company is working with the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London to develop wearable electronics that use Peratech's QTC sensors. This years-long research project is exploring the needs base and applications for wearable technology bringing together the expertise of industry and academe in a highly creative way.

Metasurfaces to usher in new optical technologies

March 15, 2013 10:25 am | News | Comments

New optical technologies using "metasurfaces" capable of the ultra-efficient control of light are nearing commercialization. According to Alexander Kildishev, an electrical engineer and professor at Purdue University, the metasurfaces could make possible "planar photonics" devices and optical switches small enough to be integrated into computer chips for information processing and telecommunication

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Organic phototransistors to help miniaturization of optoelectronics

March 13, 2013 12:55 pm | News | Comments

Phototransistors are a kind of transistors in which the incident light intensity can modulate the charge-carrier density in the channel. To date, research on organic phototransistors (OPT) has mostly focused on thin-film variants. Now, researchers in South Korea have developed high-performance OPTs that are engineered with nanoscale single-crystalline wires. The breakthrough could enable other types of device miniaturization.

Riddle solved: How two unlikely materials are held together

March 11, 2013 9:38 am | News | Comments

For years, researchers have developed thin films of bismuth telluride, which converts heat into electricity or electricity to cooling, on top of gallium arsenide to create cooling devices for electronics. But it was not clear how this could be done because the atomic structures do not appear to be compatible. Researchers from North Carolina State University and RTI International have now solved the mystery.

Report: First discovery of a natural topological insulator

March 6, 2013 10:59 am | News | Comments

Unlike conventional electrical insulators, which do not conduct electricity, topological insulators have the unique property of conducting electricity on their surface, while acting as an insulator inside. In a step toward understanding and exploiting an exotic form of matter that has been sparking excitement for potential applications in a new genre of supercomputers, scientists are reporting the first identification of a naturally occurring topological insulator that was retrieved from an abandoned gold mine in the Czech Republic.

MIT researchers develop solar-to-fuel roadmap for crystalline silicon

March 5, 2013 11:12 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Bringing the concept of an “artificial leaf” closer to reality, a team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has published a detailed analysis of all the factors that could limit the efficiency of such a system. The new analysis lays out a roadmap for a research program to improve the efficiency of these systems, and could quickly lead to the production of a practical, inexpensive and commercially viable prototype.

Analytical theory may bring improvements to lithium-ion batteries

March 5, 2013 10:58 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue University | News | Comments

A new analytical theory has been developed at Purdue University that shows how to design experiments to study ways of controlling dendrite growth on electrodes in lithium-ion batteries. Using this approach, the researchers have shown theoretically how to control or eliminate the formation of these dendrites, which cause lithium-ion batteries to fail. The advance could help improve safety and might enable the batteries to be charged within a matter of minutes instead of hours.

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Light control on superconducting chip brings quantum devices closer

March 4, 2013 3:05 pm | News | Comments

As one crucial step of achieving controllable quantum devices, physicists at the University of California Santa Barbara have developed an unprecedented level of manipulating light on a superconducting chip. In their experiment, they caught and released photons in and from a superconducting cavity by incorporating a superconducting switch.

Man-made material pushes the bounds of superconductivity

March 4, 2013 8:39 am | by Renee Meiller, University of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

A multi-university team of researchers has artificially engineered a unique multilayer material with tailorable properties. It seamlessly alternates between metal and oxide layers, achieving extraordinary superconducting properties such as the ability to transport much more electrical current than non-engineered materials. A superlattice, it is composed of 24 layers that alternate between pnictide superconductor and the oxide strontium titanate.

Scientists engineer bacterial live wires

February 28, 2013 1:09 pm | News | Comments

Just like electronics, living cells use electrons for energy and information transfer. But cell membranes have thus far prevented us from “plugging” in cells to our computers. To get around this barrier that tightly controls charge balance, a research group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Molecular Foundry has engineered <em>E. coli</em> as a testbed for cellular-electrode communication. They have now demonstrated that these bacterial strains can generate measurable current at an anode.

Clever battery completes stretchable electronics package

February 27, 2013 8:05 am | News | Comments

Northwestern University’s Yonggang Huang and the University of Illinois’ John A. Rogers are the first to demonstrate a stretchable lithium-ion battery—a flexible device capable of powering their innovative stretchable electronics. Their battery continues to work—powering a commercial light-emitting diode (LED)—even when stretched, folded, twisted and mounted on a human elbow. The battery can work for eight to nine hours before it needs recharging, which can be done wirelessly.

Researchers develop new method of controlling nanodevices

February 25, 2013 9:46 am | by Bill Kisliuk, UCLA | News | Comments

Electromagnetic devices, from power drills to smart-phones, require an electric current to create the magnetic fields that allow them to function. But researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have developed a method for switching tiny magnetic fields on and off with an electric field—a sharp departure from the traditional approach of running a current through a wire. The new composite can control magneto-electric activity at a scale of just 10 nm.

First synthetic catalyst to use iron to split hydrogen gas

February 18, 2013 9:09 am | by Mary Beckman, PNNL | News | Comments

To make fuel cells more economical, engineers want a fast and efficient iron-based molecule that splits hydrogen gas to make electricity. Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have recently reported the development of such a catalyst. Made from a synthetic molecule, it is the first iron-based catalyst that converts hydrogen directly to electricity, and it might help make those fuel cells less expensive.

Organic electronics: Better contact between carbon compounds and metals

February 18, 2013 9:00 am | News | Comments

A recurring problem in organic electronics technology has been the difficulty in establishing good electrical contact between the active organic layer and metal electrodes. Organic molecules are frequently used for this purpose, but, until recent research at the Helmholtz Center in Germany unraveled this mystery, it was practically impossible to accurately predict which molecules performed well on the job.

Self-assembled biological filaments form 3D microelectronics

February 12, 2013 1:24 pm | News | Comments

The size of electronic components is reaching a physical limit. While 3D assembly can reduce bulk, the challenge is in manufacturing these complex electrical connections. Biologists and physicists in France have recently developed a system of self-assembled connections using actin filaments for 3D microelectronic structures. Once the actin filaments become conductors, they join the various components of a system together.

New material class could help create better solar cells

February 12, 2013 9:54 am | News | Comments

Recent research shows that a newly discovered class of materials, called layered oxide heterostructures, could have optimal electrical characteristics. A research team at the Vienna University of Technology, together with colleagues from the United States and Germany, has now shown that these heterostructures can be used to create a new kind of extremely efficient ultra-thin solar cells.

Researchers strain to improve electrical material

February 11, 2013 11:09 am | News | Comments

Like turning coal to diamond, adding pressure to an electrical material enhances its properties. Now, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have devised a method of making ferroelectric thin films with twice the strain, resulting in exceptional performance.

Researchers demonstrate quantum dots that assemble themselves

February 11, 2013 10:08 am | News | Comments

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and other labs have demonstrated a process whereby quantum dots can self-assemble at the apex of a gallium arsenide-aluminum gallium arsenide core-shell nanowire interface. This activity at optimal locations in nanowires could improve solar cells, quantum computing, and lighting devices.

With voltage, “smart” oxide flips from open to closed

February 8, 2013 11:48 am | News | Comments

Researchers have tried for decades to replicate the effects of transistors in transition metal oxides by using a voltage to convert the material from an insulator to a metal, but the induced change only occurs within a few atomic layers of the surface. Recently, however, scientists in Japan have discovered that applying a voltage to a vanadium dioxide film several tens of nanometers thick converts the entire film from an insulator to a metal.

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