Researchers claim to have hit on the right combination of solar cell type and battery to charge an electric vehicle battery with higher efficiency than ever before. The team behind the research says the system could soon make it possible to attach small cells to a car that will charge the vehicle while being driven – on a sunny day, at least.
Scientists have long believed that while an atom's outer electrons are highly mobile and often behave somewhat chaotically, the inner electrons close to the nucleus are stable. They move steadily around the nucleus and stay out of each other's way. But new research reveals that if the pressure is really extreme, like double that found at the center of the Earth, the innermost electrons of an atom change their behavior.
Tiny 3D-printed robotic fish smaller than the width of a human hair may one day deliver drugs to specific places in our bodies and sense and remove toxins, thanks to research at the University of California, San Diego. The so-called microfish are self-propelled, magnetically steered, and powered by hydrogen peroxide nanoparticles. And they might be just the first chip off the block for a future filled with "smart" microbots inspired by other biological organisms such as birds, each with its own specialized functionality.
A glue that performs at a high-level in wet environments could bring about all sorts of possibilities in areas like surgical care and ship maintenance. A somewhat common approach to this problem has been trying to replicate the freakish ability of mussels to bind themselves to boats and jetties, but a team from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University is coming at it from a slightly different angle by developing a glue that hardens when an electrical charge is applied.
Not content with using hybrid artificial photosynthesis to turn CO2 emissions into plastics and biofuel, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) now claim to have produced an enhanced system that uses water and solar energy to generate hydrogen, which is in turn used to produce methane, the main element of natural gas, from carbon dioxide. Generating such gases from a renewable resource may one day help bolster, or even replace, fossil fuel resources extracted from dwindling sub-surface deposits.
A highly-flexible yellow-tinged white-light LED created at National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan combines off-the-shelf parts with novel design patterns. The LEDs produce a uniform sheet of light and could soon find use in curved and flexible TVs and wearable displays.
With their zero electrical resistance and remarkable magnetic and thermal conductive properties, superconductors have the potential to revolutionize numerous technologies. The trouble is, they work best at cryogenic temperatures in the neighborhood of absolute zero (-273° C, -459° F). As part of the quest to come up with a room temperature superconductor, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz have developed a new record-high-temperature superconductor – and it smells like rotten eggs.
The use of sunlight as an energy source is achieved in a number of ways, from conversion to electricity via photovoltaic (PV) panels, concentrated heat to drive steam turbines, and even hydrogen generation via artificial photosynthesis. Unfortunately, much of the light energy in PV and photosynthesis systems is lost as heat due to the thermodynamic inefficiencies inherent in the process of converting the incoming energy from one form to another. Now scientists working at the University of Bayreuth claim to have created a super-efficient light-energy transport conduit that exhibits almost zero loss, and shows promise as the missing link in the sunlight to energy conversion process.
Helium is the second most abundant element in the Universe, but it's relatively rare on Earth – so much so that some have called for a ban on party balloons to ward off a worldwide shortage. However, a team of scientists led by Diveena Danabalan of Durham University conducted a new study that indicates that there may be vast new sources of the gas in the western mountain regions of North America.
Store bought tomatoes are notorious for having an insipid taste, so a team of scientists led by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working on new methods to ensure that future supermarket tomatoes have more flavor. The research suggests this can be achieved by a simple, inexpensive alteration to conventional processing – a hot bath.