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Pressure transforms a semiconductor into a new state of matter

December 11, 2013 7:40 am | News | Comments

By applying pressure to a semiconductor, researchers have been able to transform a semiconductor into a “topological insulator” (TI), an intriguing state of matter in which a material’s interior is insulating but its surfaces or edges are conducting with unique electrical properties. This is the first time that researchers have used pressure to gradually “tune” a material into the TI state.

Squeezing transistors really hard generates energy savings

December 6, 2013 9:47 am | News | Comments

Transistors, the workhorses of the electronics world, are plagued by leakage current. This results in unnecessary energy losses, which is why smartphones and laptops, for example, have to be recharged so often. Researchers have recently shown that this leakage current can be radically reduced by “squeezing” the transistor with a piezoelectric material. Using this approach, they have surpassed the theoretical limit for leakage current.

Flashes of brilliance

November 25, 2013 11:17 am | News | Comments

Spontaneous bursts of light from a solid block illuminate the unusual way interacting quantum particles behave when they are driven far from equilibrium. The discovery by Rice Univ. scientists of a way to trigger these flashes may lead to new telecommunications equipment and other devices that transmit signals at picosecond speeds.

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New milestone could help magnets end era of computer transistors

November 20, 2013 9:48 am | by Sarah Yang, Univ. of California, Berkeley | News | Comments

New work by researchers at Univ. of California, Berkeley could soon transform the building blocks of modern electronics by making nanomagnetic switches a viable replacement for the conventional transistors found in all computers.

Scientists create low-cost, long-lasting water splitter from silicon and nickel

November 15, 2013 11:10 am | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Stanford Univ. researchers have developed an inexpensive device that uses light to split water into oxygen and clean-burning hydrogen. The goal is to supplement solar cells with hydrogen-powered fuel cells that can generate electricity when the sun isn't shining or demand is high.

Nanomagnets arise at 2-D boundaries

November 14, 2013 8:10 am | News | Comments

When you squeeze atoms, you don’t get atom juice. You get magnets. According to a new theory by Rice Univ. scientists, imperfections in certain 2-D materials create the conditions by which nanoscale magnetic fields arise. Calculations by the laboratory of Rice theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson show these imperfections, called grain boundaries, in 2-D semiconducting materials known as dichalcogenides can be magnetic.

New way to dissolve semiconductors holds promise for electronics industry

November 13, 2013 10:26 am | News | Comments

Semiconductors, the foundation of modern electronics used in flatscreen televisions and fighter jets, could become even more versatile as researchers make headway on a novel, inexpensive way to turn them into thin films. Their report on a new liquid that can quickly dissolve nine types of key semiconductors appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

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.

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Cooling when there's too much heat

November 11, 2013 2:18 pm | by Nancy W. Stauffer, MIT Energy Initiative | News | Comments

When an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011, crews sprayed cooling seawater on the reactors, but to no avail. One possible reason: Droplets can’t land on surfaces that hot and instantly begin to evaporate, forming a thin layer of vapor and then bouncing along it. Now, MIT researchers have come up with a way to cool hot surfaces more effectively by keeping droplets from bouncing.

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.

Researchers make strides toward a copper oxide solar cell

October 31, 2013 7:53 am | News | Comments

Amit Goyal and his team of research scientists are using copper oxide to redesign the face of solar power. The once-dismissed solar semiconductor, one of the first discovered, is the basis of ongoing research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where scientists are creating cheaper and safer alternatives for solar conducting technology.

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.

Ultraviolet light to the extreme

October 7, 2013 1:52 am | News | Comments

When a tiny droplet of liquid tin is heated with a laser, plasma forms on the surface of the droplet and produces extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light, which has a higher frequency and greater energy than normal ultraviolet. Now, for the first time, researchers have mapped this EUV emission and developed a theoretical model that explains how the emission depends on the 3-D shape of the plasma.

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Wagon-wheel pasta shape for better LED

September 30, 2013 7:51 am | News | Comments

One problem in developing more efficient OLED light bulbs and displays for televisions and phones is that much of the light is polarized in one direction and thus trapped within the LED. Univ. of Utah physicists believe they have solved the problem by creating a new organic molecule that is shaped like rotelle—wagon-wheel pasta—rather than spaghetti.

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.

Scientists publish theory, formula to improve plastic semiconductors

September 24, 2013 8:34 am | News | Comments

Anyone who’s stuffed a smartphone in their back pocket would appreciate the convenience of electronic devices that could bend. Alas, electronic components are generally made from stiff and brittle metals and inorganic semiconductors. Now, researchers have created the first theoretical framework seeking to understand, predict and improve the conductivity of semiconducting polymers.

Tiny antennas let long light waves see in infrared

September 24, 2013 7:56 am | News | Comments

Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed arrays of tiny nanoantennas that can enable sensing of molecules that resonate in the infrared (IR) spectrum. Other nanoscale antenna systems can't be tuned to a longer light wavelength due to limitations of traditional nanoantenna materials. The team used highly doped semiconductors, grown by molecular beam epitaxy.

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.

Toward a truly white OLED

September 13, 2013 7:36 am | News | Comments

By inserting platinum atoms into an organic semiconductor, Univ. of Utah physicists were able to “tune” the plastic-like polymer to emit light of different colors—a step toward more efficient, less expensive and truly white organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) for light bulbs of the future.

Magnetic semiconductor material holds promise for “spintronics”

September 11, 2013 7:36 am | News | Comments

Researchers at North Carolina State Univ. have created a new compound, strontium tin oxide (Sr3SnO) that can be integrated into silicon chips and is a dilute magnetic semiconductor, meaning that it could be used to make “spintronic” devices, which rely on magnetic force to operate, rather than electrical currents.

New nanoparticles to make solar cells cheaper to manufacture

August 29, 2013 4:43 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in Canada have found that abundant materials in the Earth's crust can be used to make inexpensive and easily manufactured nanoparticle-based solar cells. The team has designed nanoparticles that absorb light and conduct electricity from two very common elements: phosphorus and zinc. These are much more plentiful than scarce cadmium, and safer than lead.

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.

Substrates Find New Flexibility

August 28, 2013 1:38 pm | Award Winners

Devices based on gallium arsenide (GaAs) have numerous applications, such as photovoltaics, because it is a wide bandgap semiconductor and can be used under extreme conditions—high-temperature, high-power and high-radiation environments—where conventional silicon-based devices can’t adequately perform. However, GaAs wafers have been expensive, inflexible and limited to 6 in in diameter. TexMat LLC and TapeSolar have introduced a new type of GaAs wafer that is flexible and can be produced in sizes measuring in meters, not inches.

Physicists offer explanation for strange magnetic behavior at semiconductor interfaces

August 26, 2013 7:57 am | News | Comments

They're not exactly the peanut butter and jelly of semiconductors, but when you put them together, something magical happens. Alone, neither lanthanum aluminate nor strontium titanate exhibit any particularly notable properties. But when they are layered together, they become not only conductive, but also magnetic.

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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