While refining their novel method for making nanoscale wires, chemists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) discovered an unexpected bonus—a new way to create nanowires that produce light similar to that from light-emitting diodes (LEDs). These "nano-LEDs" may one day have their light-emission abilities put to work serving miniature devices such as nanogenerators or lab-on-a-chip systems.
"Measurement of Fast Electron Spin Relaxation Times with Atomic Resolution").
Solar energy could be a central alternative to petroleum-based energy production. However, current solar-cell technology often does not produce the same energy yield and is more expensive to mass-produce. In addition, information on the total effect of solar energy production on the environment is incomplete, experts say.
At the 25th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference (Valencia, Spain), imec presents several large-area silicon solar cells with a conversion efficiency above 19%.
Dynasil Corporation of America has announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has approved seven of its Phase-II SBIR projects for awards, ranging from $750,000 to $1,000,000 each. The awards, totaling $6.2 million, are being made to its wholly owned subsidiary, Radiation Monitoring Devices, Inc ("RMD"), to develop its state of the art nuclear sensors and instruments.
NanoEngineers at the University of California, San Diego are designing new types of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries that could be used in a variety of NASA space exploration projects – and in a wide range of transportation and consumer applications. NEI Corporation and UC San Diego recently won a Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer contract from NASA to develop and implement high energy density cathode materials for lithium batteries.
Electronic products pollute our environment with a number of heavy metals before, during and after they're used. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 70% of heavy metals in landfill come from discarded electronics. With flat screen TVs getting bigger and cheaper every year, environmental costs continue to mount.
Inorganic chalcogenide (WS2) nanotubes have shown revolutionary chemical and physical properties that offer a broad range of applications. They are ultra-strong impact-resistant materials. This makes them excellent candidates for producing bullet proof vests, helmets, car bumpers, high strength glues and binders, and other safety equipment. The unique nanotubes are up to four to five times stronger than steel and about six times stronger than Kevlar, the nowadays most popular material used for bullet proof vests.
Imec has fabricated tandem organic solar cells with peak conversion efficiencies of 5.15%. This was achieved by stacking two different planar heterojunction devices, each with a high open-circuit voltage (Voc). The universal nature of the interconnection scheme makes it easy to incorporate new promising materials in the tandem configuration. The screening of candidate materials is ongoing at imec, with the focus on materials with absorption spectra extended to higher wavelengths. The goal is to combine these new materials with the current tandem set, creating a stack of 3 or more cells that will result in an even broader coverage of the solar spectrum and in higher efficiencies.
An international team of researchers has succeeded in producing nanocrystals that build conductive two-dimensional nanostructures trough self-organisation ("Ultrathin PbS Sheets by Two-Dimensional Oriented Attachment").
Photovoltaic cells made from organic compounds, rather than silicon wafers, are set to transform the solar energy industry. Because organic solar cells are made using solution processes, they can be spread onto flexible substrates, like films or fabrics, in the same manner as inks or paints. These properties open the way for intriguing new applications, such as light-harvesting clothes and window coatings — but only if scientists can find organic materials that combine high solar conversion efficiency with favorable behaviour in solutions.
Harnessing darkness for practical use, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a laser power detector coated with the world's darkest material—a forest of carbon nanotubes that reflects almost no light across the visible and part of the infrared spectrum.