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Additives keep lithium-ion batteries from catching fire

By - June 25, 2015 4 Pictures
Processor chips may get all the glory, but if it wasn't for lithium-ion batteries, modern electronics would look like something out of the 1950s. Unfortunately, while they may be compact and long lasting, these batteries also suffer from overheating and can become fire hazards as they get old. Now a team led by Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has come up with an additive that holds the promise of extending lithium battery life while improving safety and performance. Read More
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Solar-powered hydrogen generation using two of the most abundant elements on Earth

By - June 23, 2015

One potential clean energy future requires an economical, efficient, and relatively simple way to generate copious amounts of hydrogen for use in fuel-cells and hydrogen-powered vehicles. Often achieved by using electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, the ideal method would be to mine hydrogen from water using electricity generated directly from sunlight without the addition of any external power source. Hematite – the mineral form of iron – used in conjunction with silicon has shown some promise in this area, but low conversion efficiencies have slowed research. Now scientists have discovered a way to make great improvements, giving hope to using two of the most abundant elements on earth to efficiently produce hydrogen.

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Owl-inspired material to reduce wind turbine noise

By - June 22, 2015 2 Pictures

Owls are exceptional predators. In addition to their impressive vision and hearing capabilities, they are also able to fly almost silently. This stealthy flight is thanks to the structure of their wings, which researchers have analyzed and mimicked to develop a prototype coating that they claim could significantly reduce the noise generated by wind turbines, computer fans and airplanes.

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Leap second to make 61-second minute at end of June

By - June 18, 2015

If you're one of those people who just can't find the time to fit everything you want to do into a day, then mark June 30 on your calendar. On that Tuesday you'll have a little extra time on your hands because, at precisely 23:59:59 GMT, the world's clocks will add a second to the day, making it 24 hours and one second long.

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Battery juices itself up using light

It's now fairly common to hear about batteries being used to store power generated by solar cells. A group of Indian scientists, however, have eliminated the middleman. They've created a battery that incorporates a titanium nitride-based photoanode in place of a conventional anode, allowing the battery to charge itself using solar or artificial light.

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Sensor to detect Earth’s magnetic field discovered in an animal for very first time

By - June 17, 2015

It has been a long-held belief in scientific circles that many creatures navigate across land, through water, and through the skies using the Earth’s magnetic field for guidance. Now scientists and engineers working at The University of Texas at Austin (UT) have finally discovered the organic mechanism responsible for this in an animal. Looking just like a microscopic TV antenna, the structure has been found in the brain of a tiny roundworm that uses it to work out which way to burrow through the soil. This breakthrough may help scientists discover how other species with internal compasses use the magnetic field of our planet to pilot their course.

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Miniature car runs only on the power of evaporating water

By - June 17, 2015 5 Pictures

Researchers have discovered an unlikely source of renewable energy, the naturally-occurring cycle that is water evaporation. Scientists at New York's Columbia University replicated this process in the laboratory and harnessed its energy to power tiny machines, one of which was a moving, miniature car. The team says the technology could potentially to be scaled up to one day draw power from huge resting bodies of water such as bays and reservoirs.

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"Nano-accordion" conductors may find use in flexible and stretchable electronics

By - June 17, 2015 3 Pictures

A new conductive, transparent, and stretchable nanomaterial that folds up like an accordion could one day be applied to the development of flexible electronics and wearable sensors, as well as stretchable displays. The researchers at North Carolina State University who created this "nano-accordion" structure caution that it is early days yet, but they hope to find ways to improve its conductivity and eventually scale it up for commercial or industrial use.

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