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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.

Inkjet-printed graphene may open doors to foldable electronics

May 20, 2013 3:15 pm | News | Comments

Northwestern University researchers have recently developed a graphene-based ink that is highly conductive and tolerant to bending, and they have used it to inkjet-print graphene patterns that could be used for extremely detailed, conductive electrodes. The resulting patterns are 250 times more conductive than previous attempts to print graphene-based electronic patterns and could be a step toward low-cost, foldable electronics.

First precise MEMS output measurement technique unveiled

May 14, 2013 1:06 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in Europe have developed a new experimental system to gain accurate information on mechanical values and properties of any microelectromechanical (MEMS) device through electrical measurement. The technique works by applying a current across the device with a varying frequency and analyzes the harmonic content of the output voltage of the component parts.

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Imaging nanoscale polarization in ferroelectrics with coherent X-rays

May 7, 2013 11:19 am | News | Comments

An international team working to image ferroelectric thin films have reported the development of a new X-ray imaging technique, coherent X-ray Bragg projection ptychography. Under certain conditions, these thin films, which are used in computer memory, form networks of nanoscale domains with distinct local polarizations that are normally difficult to image.

Nanoparticles give major enhancement to polymer solar cells

May 7, 2013 11:11 am | News | Comments

A polymer thin film solar cell (PSC) produces electricity from sunlight by the photovoltaic effect. Though light and inexpensive, PSCs currently suffer from a lack of enough efficiency for large scale applications and they also have stability problems. Researches in Korea have designed and added multi-positional silica-coated silver nanoparticles that have greatly improved stability and performance of these cells.

Composite thermoelectric outperforms constituent materials

May 6, 2013 1:05 pm | News | Comments

A team led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Materials Sciences Division’s Jeffrey Urban and Rachel Segalman have discovered highly conductive polymer behavior occurring at a polymer/nanocrystal interface. The composite organic/inorganic material is a thermoelectric—a material capable of converting heat into electricity—and has a higher performance than either of its constituent materials.

Microwave cooks up solar cell materials

May 6, 2013 12:56 pm | News | Comments

University of Utah metallurgists have used an old microwave oven to produce a nanocrystal semiconductor rapidly using cheap, abundant, and less toxic metals than other semiconductors. X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, and atomic spectroscopy all helped confirm that the CZTS (copper, zinc, tin, and sulfur) semiconductor was suitable for use in a solar cell.  

Room-temperature nuclear spins advance quantum computing efforts

April 30, 2013 11:42 am | News | Comments

An international team of researchers has recently succeeded in both initializing and reading nuclear spins—which are relevant to qubits for quantum computers—at room temperature. With the help of a spin filter developed in 2009, the team has produced a flow of free electrons with a given spin in a material. 

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Semiconductor spray paint could create organic electronics

April 25, 2013 9:46 am | News | Comments

Wake Forest University's Organic Electronics group has developed an organic semiconductor “spray paint” that can be applied to large surface areas without losing electric conductivity. The new spray-deposition method has the advantages of drop casting, spin coating, and prior spray-on techniques: It can applied to large surfaces of any medium, retaining electrical performance.

New battery design could help solar and wind power the grid

April 24, 2013 3:58 pm | News | Comments

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have designed a low-cost, long-life battery that could enable solar and wind energy to become major suppliers to the electrical grid. The developers believe their new membrane-free battery, based on lithium and sulfur, may be the best yet designed to regulate alternative energies.

Study unlocks secrets of device that is both battery and memory

April 24, 2013 10:18 am | News | Comments

Unlike the building blocks of conventional hard disk drives and memories, resistive memory cells (ReRAM) are active electrochemical components. In these cells, ions generate voltage on electrodes in a similar manner to a battery. Researchers in Europe have conducted an extensive study of ReRAMs, also described as memristors, and have found previously undiscovered sources of voltage in these devices.

High temperature alloy may be perfect solder for well electronics

April 17, 2013 9:01 am | by Meg Marquardt, Materials 360 Online | News | Comments

Technology used in downhole applications—such as geothermal or oil-well monitoring—must endure punishing conditions, from very high temperatures to tremendous pressures. Finding a solder material that can perform in these harsh environments is a constant challenge. Researchers have recently repurposed a solder alloy once intended defense applications that has all the right properties for well tasks.

Redesigned material could lead to lighter, faster electronics

April 10, 2013 12:57 pm | News | Comments

The same material that formed the first primitive transistors more than 60 years ago can be modified in a new way to advance future electronics, according to a new study. Chemists at The Ohio State University have developed the technology for making a one-atom-thick sheet of germanium, and found that it conducts electrons more than ten times faster than silicon and five times faster than conventional germanium.

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Tin nanocrystals for the battery of the future

April 9, 2013 6:17 pm | by Fabio Bergamin, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

More powerful batteries could help electric cars achieve a considerably larger range and thus a breakthrough on the market. A new nanomaterial made from tiny tin crystals, deployed at the anode of lithium-ion batteries, has been developed in the labs of chemists in Europe and enables considerably more power to be stored in these batteries.

Nanowires with the power to transform solar energy

April 9, 2013 5:00 am | News | Comments

Imagine a solar panel more efficient than today’s best solar panels, but using 10,000 times less material. This is what researchers in France expect given recent findings on these tiny filaments called nanowires. Solar technology integrating nanowires could capture large quantities of light and produce energy with incredible efficiency at a much lower cost.

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.

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

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.

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