The best of 2014

Dario Borghino

A proof of concept nanotube-based anode for lithium-ion batteries has been developed by re...

Researchers at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have developed a new, proof-of-concept anode for lithium-ion batteries that can charge to 70 percent of its capacity in only two minutes and has a very long lifespan of ten thousands charge/discharge cycles. The advance could lead to the production of high-rate lithium-ion batteries, with interesting implications for personal electronics and, perhaps, even electric vehicles.  Read More

A supercapacitor-based charger currently under development can load up in only five minute...

An Oxford-based startup has turned to crowdfunding to help develop Zap&Go, a phone charger with an emphasis on speed and portability. Thanks to a graphene supercapacitor and an ad-hoc power supply, the device will reportedly charge to its 1,500-mAh capacity – enough to fully charge an iPhone 5s – in only five minutes and promises to be a much more practical solution than current alternatives, particularly when traveling.  Read More

An array of nanoscale pillars ('nanograss') structure could make organic solar cells more ...

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Stanford University and the Dresden University of Technology have developed a long sought-after nanostructure that can significantly increase the efficiency of organic solar cells. Their "nanograss," a dense array of vertical nanopillars, can capture photons at a very high efficiency and could also lead to cheaper and more advanced 3D transistors, photodetectors and charge storage devices.  Read More

A new study conducted at MIT suggests that tweaking the size of a costly membrane could he...

A new study conducted at MIT has examined the potential of pressure-retarded osmosis (PRO), a technique that generates electricity from the difference in salinity between two pools of water separated by a membrane. According to the researchers, tweaking the size of the membrane could help generate electricity much more cheaply than ever before.  Read More

 XRay helps users see how popular online services track their personal information  (Image...

A new software tool developed at Columbia University is providing valuable insights into how some very popular websites make use of the sensitive data they collect from their users. The software could help sniff out potential abuses from advertisers and contribute in making the usage of sensitive data a lot more transparent to the end user.  Read More

A flexible artificial skin is designed to wrap around objects and autonomously camouflage ...

A new device developed at the University of Houston can automatically sense its surroundings and blend into them in a matter of seconds, imitating the behavior of squids and other marine creatures. Once it is perfected, the prototype could have interesting applications for the military, or even make its way into consumer technology.  Read More

Researchers have developed a high-performance electrode material for supercapacitors from ...

Using waste hemp fibers as the starting material, researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada have developed a high-performance electrode material for supercapacitors at one thousandth the cost of the more commonly used graphene. The advance could lead to supercapacitors that are both cheaper and able to operate under harsh environmental conditions.  Read More

With a recipe app and remote control option through Wi-fi, the Nomiku immersion circulator...

With the goal of making sous-vide cooking more user friendly, the team responsible for the Nomiku immersion circulator have added Wi-Fi to a new model that is smaller and more powerful. Thanks to a Wi-Fi connection, the device can now be controlled remotely and recipes can be browsed, shared and tested more easily using the accompanying smartphone app.  Read More

Adding certain salts to the anodes of lithium-based batteries has been found to increase t...

Salt has long been used to preserve meat, and now researchers at Cornell University have found that adding certain salts to the anodes of lithium-based batteries can also increase their useful life by a very large factor, solving long-standing problems associated with cell degradation. The advance can be adapted to other metal-based chemistries, including the lighter and more energy dense lithium-sulfur cells and, according to the researchers, might see commercial applications in as little as three years.  Read More

Combining the high efficiency and low cost of perovskite with the simplicity of spray-on c...

Researchers at the University of Sheffield in the UK have created a spray-on solar cell that uses perovskite as the light-absorbing layer. Although the cell's efficiency is only a modest 11 percent, it can be manufactured very cheaply, paving the way for significant reductions in the cost of large-scale solar panel production.  Read More

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