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Technology

“Solar sponge” absorbs carbon emissions

A team of researchers from Monash University and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization developed a ground-breaking method to capture, store and recycle carbon emissions using sunlight. Dubbed as dynamic photo-switching, the method employs a photosensitive metal organic framework material that can absorb large amounts of carbon emissions and then release it when exposed to sunlight. According to the Australian...

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Iron-based catalyst developed for hydrogen fuel cell – P.N.N.L.

Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed the first iron-based catalyst that can convert hydrogen directly to electricity for more affordable fuel cells. Fuel cells generate electricity out of hydrogen gas by triggering a chemical reaction that breaks the bond between the gas’ two hydrogen molecules, releasing electrons to create an electrical current. In most fuel cells, the catalyst used...

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Small voids, small particles – better lithium-ion battery

A new lithium-ion design from the University of Southern California incorporates small voids etched in small bits of silicon to triple its energy storage capacity. The design uses porous silicon nanoparticles in place of traditional graphite anodes. This increases its energy storage capacity and speeds up its charge cycle, allowing the battery to recharge within 10 minutes. The new battery is currently under a...

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Geometric pattern captures more light in organic solar cells

Researchers at Northwestern University are using geometry to redesign the layers of organic solar cells, increasing the amount of sunlight captured and converted to power. The researchers played around with different geometric patterns in the scattering layer of an organic solar cell to maximize the amount of time light remains trapped within. “We wanted to determine the geometry for the scattering layer that would give us...

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Sweet treat inspiring cheaper silicon devices

A sweet treat served as the inspiration for chemists at the University of Michigan to develop a technique to hit a sweet spot in the development of future low-cost and low-carbon technologies. Stephen Maldonado, a professor of chemistry and applied physics, along with graduate students Junsi Gu and Eli Fahrenkrug, have developed a way to make crystalline silicon in the same way people have been making rock candy –...

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Polymer film uses water vapor to create energy – M.I.T.

A new polymer film developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology enables the generation of power from a novel source – water vapor. The film changes its shape after absorbing small amounts of evaporated water curling up and down in a repetitive motion, which could be harnessed and used to generate power. The new film is made from an interlocking network of two different polymers. One is polypyrrole, which...

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Peel-and-stick solar cells can generate power on any surface

Personal devices could soon generate their own power with the use of peel-and-stick solar cells developed by Stanford University and the United States Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. A collaboration between the two institutions has resulted into a thin-film solar cell less than one-micron thick that can be attached to almost any surface. Stanford had previously developed the peel-...

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Ancient organism produces modern alternatives for chemical feedstocks

A chemist at the University of California, Davis is working with some of the oldest living organisms in the world to produce chemicals that are needed for modern life. At the lab of Shota Atsumi, an assistant professor of chemistry, blue-green algae or cyanobacteria is being studied for biological chemical production. With the support of Japanese chemical manufacturer Asahi Kasei Corp., Mr. Atsumi is working on developing alternative...

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Enzyme found to boost production of plant sugars – J.B.E.I.

An enzyme capable of boosting the amount of the polymer galactan in plant cell walls could increase the amount of fermentable sugars found plant biomass, raising the amount of advanced biofuel it can produce. The Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute has confirmed that GT92 enzyme is the first enzyme that has the ability to increase the production of galactan. Galactan is a polymer of galactose, a six-carbon sugar that can be fermented into cellulosic ethanol...

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Flexible solar cells from graphene and nanowires

Low-cost, light-weight and flexible solar cells are envisaged for the next-generation construction materials known as building integrated photovoltaics – windows, roofs and facades that could transform the light of the sun for an on-site source of power. Now, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have come up with a new solar cell that could fulfill these three requirements and has an added benefit of being transparent...

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