Researchers in Lyon, a French city famed for its cuisine, have discovered a quick-cook recipe for copious volumes of hydrogen that involves water, rock, aluminum oxide and extreme pressure. The breakthrough suggests a better way of producing the hydrogen that propels rockets and energizes battery-like fuel cells.
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in...
Belgian nanoelectronics research center Imec and...
A new toaster-sized 3-D printer, set for launch next year, is designed to greatly reduce the need for astronauts to load up with every tool, spare part or supply they might ever need. The printers would serve as a flying factory of infinite designs, creating objects by extruding layer upon layer of plastic from long strands coiled around large spools.
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.
Researchers in Australia have developed a process for turning waste plastic bags into a high-tech nanomaterial. The furnace-driven process uses non-biodegradable plastic grocery bags to produce carbon layers that line pores in nanoporous alumina membranes. The result is carbon nanotube membranes.
By coating compact disks in photocatalytic compounds and spinning them to clean water, scientists in Taiwan have found a potential new use for old music CDs. The disks, equipped with tiny zinc oxide nanorods, are able to break down more than 95% of the contaminants in methyl orange dye, a benchmark organic compound for testing photocatalytic reactions.
A team from Cambridge Univ. in England has devised a simple technique to increase the density of nanotube forests grown on conductive supports about five times over previous methods. The new technique could one day help improve the performance of microelectronics in devices ranging from batteries to spacecraft.
Magnesium is a lightweight metal used in cars and planes to improve their fuel efficiency. But it currently requires a lot of energy and money to produce the metal. Engineers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is developing a new production method that would be 50% more energy efficient than the United States' current production process.
Scientists in Spain have reported the first self-healing polymer that spontaneously and independently repairs itself without any intervention. The researchers have dubbed the material a “Terminator” polymer in tribute to the shape-shifting, molten T-100 terminator robot from the Terminator 2 film.
At just a molecule thick, it's a new record: The world's thinnest sheet of glass, a serendipitous discovery by scientists at Cornell Univ. and Germany's Univ. of Ulm, has been recorded for posterity in the Guinness Book of World Records. The remarkable material was an accidental byproduct of a graphene fabrication process.
A nanoparticle shaped like a spiky ball, with magnetic properties, has been uncovered in a new method of synthesizing carbon nanotubes by physicists in the U.K. The nanoparticles were discovered on the rough surfaces of a reactor designed to grow carbon nanotubes and are described as sea urchins because of their characteristic spiny appearance.
A new method developed in Germany makes it possible to manufacture ultra-thin saw wires by placing diamond on carbon nanotubes. The new invention is designed to cut through silicon wafers with minimum kerf, or “sawdust”, loss that is the unavoidable result of current tools used in semiconductor wafer fabrication.
Engineers at NIST have developed a new technique for fabricating high aspect ratio 3-D nanostructures over large device areas using a combination of electron beam lithography, photolithography and resist spray coating. While it has long been possible to make complicated 3-D structures with many mask layers or expensive grayscale masks, the new technique enables researchers to etch features in two process steps without masks
In the latest advance in efforts to find an inexpensive way to make hydrogen from ordinary water, scientists are reporting that powder from high-grade charcoal and other forms of carbon can free hydrogen from water illuminated with laser pulses.
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.
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.
Polyethylene, an inexpensive commodity plastic, has been successfully used by researchers to synthesize the “ideal” polymer nanocrystal. Normally, this plastic is only partly crystalline, but a new catalyst has produced material that eliminates amorphous structures. The crystalline nanostructure could prove of interest to production of new kinds of coatings.
Weighing in at two thirds less than aluminium, magnesium is the lightest structural metal. It has many potential industrial applications, but uptake is severely restricted by its poor resistance to corrosion. Scientists have found a way to dramatically reduce the corrosion rate of magnesium, however, and it involves adding arsenic.
Flexible thin film solar cells that can be produced by roll-to-roll manufacturing are a highly promising route to cheap solar electricity. Researchers in Switzerland report that they have designed a low-cost cadmium telluride solar cell technology based on metal foil substrates. By doping the cells with cooper, they have elevated efficiency from 8 to 11.5%.
Researchers in Germany have developed a technique that makes it possible to manufacture an assortment of unusually shaped and functionalizable nanostructures. The method, which involves vapor depositing the material onto a super-cooled rotating disk, lets them combine materials with widely varying chemical and physical properties at the smallest of scales.
Corrosion and rust exacts a substantial financial toll on economic output. But determining how it affect steels and alloys has traditionally been difficult. However, recent studies that have analyzed an amorphous steel of iron, chromium, molybdenum, boron and carbon show that the more ordered a material’s structure is, and the more uneven the distribution of its atoms, the more easily it is corroded by rust.
A collaboration of scientists from the Univ. of Minnesota and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have developed a new method to use an ionized gas, called nonthermal plasma, to produce silicon nanocrystals and cover their surfaces with a layer of chlorine atoms. This method allows production of stable silicon inks without organic ligand molecules and also greatly enhances conductivity.
Innovnano, a manufacturer of high performance ceramic powders, has invested in a high-tech, brand new facility for production of its nanostructured powders, including 3 and 4 mol % yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ). The new site, based in Portugal, will enable the production of up to 1000 tons per year.
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.
Thin glass is already widely used for displays. But even thinner glass, about one-tenth the thickness of display glass, can be customized to store energy at high temperatures. Recent experiments by a partnership of academic and industrial researchers have investigated various alkali-free glass compositions and thicknesses, and has resulted in inexpensive roll-to-roll glass capacitors with high energy density and high reliability.
As a base metal, industrial aluminum often requires protection. Coatings, bondings, and paint are used, but require pre-treatment of aluminum, usually by “pickling” with acidic or alkaline baths. These are costly and inexact processes, even in spray form, which has led researchers in Germany to develop a pickling tape that pre-treats metal cleanly and locally.
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.
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