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Graphene

Despite its numerous wondrous properties, a propensity to stick together and be difficult to flatten out once crumpled can make working with graphene difficult and limit its applications. Engineers at Duke University have now found that by attaching graphene to a stretchy polymer film, they are able to crumple and then unfold the material, resulting in a properties that lend it to a broader range of applications, including artificial muscles. Read More
Removing radioactive material from contaminated water, such as that in Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plants, could be getting a little easier. Scientists from Houston’s Rice University and Lomonosov Moscow State University have discovered that when flakes of graphene oxide are added to such water, it causes the radionuclides to condense into clumps. Those clumps can then be separated and disposed of. Read More
Keeping tabs on the furious rate of technological development happening all around us is no easy task and the passing of another year provides a good excuse to reflect and take stock of the major milestones we've seen. So sit back in your power-generating rocking chair, crack yourself a self-chilling beverage and enjoy our take on the significant trends, technological victories and scientific bombshells of 2012. Read More
Imagine how limiting it would be if steel, wood or plastic only existed in the form of thin sheets. Well, that’s been the case so far when it comes to graphene. While its incredible strength and high conductivity make it very useful in things like semiconductors, batteries and solar cells, there’s no doubt that it would be even more useful if it could be produced in three-dimensional blocks. Scientists at Australia’s Monash University have now managed to do just that – by copying the structure of cork. Read More
Researchers at Stanford University have developed an experimental solar cell made entirely of carbon. In addition to providing a promising alternative to the increasingly expensive materials used in traditional solar cells, the thin film prototype is made of carbon materials that can be coated onto surfaces from a solution, cutting manufacturing costs and offering the potential for coating flexible solar cells onto buildings and car windows. Read More
Following on from news out of the University at Buffalo earlier this year that a graphene varnish could significantly slow the corrosion of steel, researchers from Monash and Rice Universities have used a graphene coating to improve copper’s resistance to corrosion by nearly 100 times. The researchers say such a dramatic extension of the metal’s useful life could result in significant cost savings for a wide range of industries. Read More
Ordinarily, electronics are made with silicon semiconductors that are rigid, opaque, and about half a millimeter thick. Thanks to research being carried out at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, however, that may be about to change. Led by Dr. Helge Weman and Prof. Bjørn-Ove Fimland, a team there has developed a method of making semiconductors out of graphene. At a thickness of just one micrometer, they are flexible and transparent. Also, because they require so little raw material, they should be considerably cheaper to manufacture than their silicon counterparts. Read More
Imagine a world where rooms are lit by their walls, clothes are smartphones and windows turn into video screens. That may seem like a bit of science fiction, but not for long. Researchers at MIT are using a two-dimensional version of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) to build electrical circuits that may soon revolutionize consumer electronics. Read More
While the lithium-ion batteries commonly used in electric cars are capable of storing a fairly large amount of energy, they’re not able to accept or discharge that energy very quickly. That’s why electric vehicles require supercapacitors, to speedily deliver energy when accelerating, or to store it when braking. Recently, however, researchers from New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute created a new anode material, that allows Li-ion batteries to charge and discharge ten times faster than those using regular graphite anodes. It could make EV supercapacitors unnecessary, and vastly shorten the charging time required by electronic devices. Read More
A green, rechargeable battery that is suitable for powering electric vehicles and stationary power storage applications, and that would survive tens of thousands of charge cycles in a useful life of 100 years without loss of capacity. What could be a better innovation for our times? Such a battery has been developed, and recently improved by Stanford researchers. Oh, one other thing. The battery was invented by Thomas Edison in 1901. Read More
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