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— Science

Nano-sandwich material claimed to boost solar cell efficiency by 175 percent

One of the main reasons that solar cells aren’t more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity is because much of that sunlight is reflected off the cell, or can’t be fully absorbed by it. A new sandwich-like material created by researchers at Princeton University, however, is claimed to dramatically address that problem – by minimizing reflection and increasing absorption, it reportedly boosts the efficiency of organic solar cells by 175 percent. Read More

Mujjo leather touchscreen gloves add a touch of style

Using a touchscreen in wintertime or on the ski slopes is annoying because screens are designed to work with bare fingers. True, there are numerous gloves available that work with screens, so you don’t freeze your fingers while surfing the internet, but they tend to look like cheap woolly things. Now Mujjo, the Dutch designer label for mobile accessories, has developed leather touchscreen gloves, so you don’t have to choose between style and frostbite. Read More
— Environment

Australian researchers develop promising new approach to hydrogen storage

Scientists at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia, are developing a novel way to store hydrogen that could help turn it into a viable portable fuel source. The research centers on using synthesized nanoparticles of the compound sodium borohydride (NaBH4 for those who love chemistry), which when encased inside nickel shells exhibits surprising and practical storage properties including the ability to reabsorb hydrogen and release it at much lower temperatures than previously observed, making it an attractive proposition for transport applications. Read More
— Science

IBM brings carbon nanotubes a step closer to usurping silicon

Silicon’s reign as the standard material for microchip semiconductors may be coming to an end. Using standard semiconductor processes, scientists from IBM Research have succeeded in precisely placing over 10,000 working transistors made from carbon nanotubes onto a wafer surface – and yes, the resulting chip was tested, and it worked. According to IBM, “These carbon devices are poised to replace and outperform silicon technology allowing further miniaturization of computing components and leading the way for future microelectronics.” Read More
— Good Thinking

Invisible QR codes designed to thwart counterfeiters

Along with the possibilities of fluorescing dyes and butterfly-wing-inspired printing techniques, there could soon be a new weapon in the fight against counterfeiting – invisible QR codes. Researchers at the University of South Dakota and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology have developed a process for applying such codes to glass, plastic film, and paper products such as bank notes. Read More
— Science

Scientists use light to alter properties of high temperature superconductors

When people have a difficult problem they often talk about “shining a light on it.” Creating and controlling high-temperature superconductors has been a problem for scientists and engineers for over two decades. Now, Yoram Dagan, a professor at Tel Aviv University's (TAU) Department of Physics and Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, has made a breakthrough in superconductors by literally shining a light on them. By doing this, he is able to control their properties. Read More
— Medical

"Whispering gallery" biosensor detects the smallest viruses

Researchers led by Professor Stephen Arnold at Polytechnic Institute of New York University have developed a new ultra-sensitive biosensor. Currently undergoing commercial development, the sensor is designed to inexpensively identify viruses in a doctor’s office within a matter of minutes instead of the weeks needed by conventional techniques ... and it can detect even the smallest RNA virus particle, MS2, which weighs only six attograms (10-18 grams). Read More
— Science

Seoul National University develops inexpensive, super sensitive electronic skin

The quest to give robots touch-sensitive artificial skin and develop medical prostheses with a sense of touch has shown much promise in recent years. The latest promising development comes out of Seoul National University's Multiscale Biomimetic Systems Laboratory where researchers have created a new biomimetic “electronic skin” that is inexpensive, yet sensitive enough to “feel” a drop of water. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Primate study provides positive sign for the safety of nanomedicine

Nanomedicine is a hugely promising field, but while remarkable new treatments and diagnostic tests are being developed, questions remain about the long term effects of nanoparticles on our bodies. Adding to our understanding of these issues, researchers have now reported that the use of quantum dots - tiny luminescent crystals that can be used to monitor disease at a cellular level - appears to be safe in primates over a one-year period. Read More