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Silicon

Children need to be allowed to play outside from time to time, but some parents are often too concerned for the safety of their little ones to loosen the reins. Having kids wear a miniature mobile phone on their wrist so they can be contacted at any time may help ease those worries, which is where Tinitell could prove invaluable to nervous parents. Read More
Panasonic is reporting a 25.6 percent conversion efficiency for its HIT (Heterojunction with Intrinsic Thin layer) solar cells. This is an improvement of 0.9 percentage points over the 24.7 percent conversion efficiency Panasonic achieved in February 2013, with the company claiming it as a world record for crystalline silicon-based solar cells of a "practical size." Read More
Though the use of silicon in lithium-ion batteries promises a whole new world of energy storage, it also poses several problems to a battery's durability and overall performance. A new electrode design inspired by clusters of pomegranate seeds and developed by researchers at the Department of Energy's National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) and Stanford University, overcomes some of these obstacles, bringing lighter and more powerful batteries closer to reality. Read More
Originally discovered by accident in the 1980s, black silicon is silicon with a surface that has been modified to feature nanoscale spike structures which give the material very low reflectivity. Researchers have now found that these spikes can also destroy a wide range of bacteria, potentially paving the way for a new generation of antibacterial surfaces. Read More
Photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells can use sunlight to sustainably split water into hydrogen and oxygen, but efficient PEC materials tend to corrode rapidly in use. A Stanford research group has been studying this problem, and has found that depositing a thin layer of nickel atoms on a silicon PEC electrode allows it to operate for over 80 hours with no sign of corrosion. Read More
While we wait for affordable multi-junction solar cells that are pushing past the 40 percent conversion efficiency mark to make it out of the lab and onto our roofs, we have to make do with standard commercial silicon cells that currently max out at around 19 percent. A team from the University of New South Wales in Australia has found a way to improve the quality of low-grade silicon, enabling higher efficiency solar cells to be produced from cheaper, low-grade silicon. Read More
It consists of one-atom-thick sheets and it could revolutionize electronics ... but it’s not graphene. Chemists at Ohio State University, instead of creating graphene from carbon atoms, have used sheets of germanium atoms to create a substance known as germanane. Because of its numerous advantages over silicon, it could become the material of choice for semiconductors. Read More
In some peoples’ opinion, electric cars won’t become truly viable until their batteries offer a lot more driving range, and can be recharged much more quickly than is currently possible. Well, those people may soon be getting their wish. Scientists at the University of Southern California have developed a new type of lithium-ion battery, that they claim holds three times as much energy as a conventional li-ion, and can be recharged in just ten minutes. Read More
Researchers at Rice University and Lockheed Martin may have developed a low-cost method of creating longer-lasting, high-capacity lithium-ion batteries. Currently graphite is used as the anode in commercial li-ion products, despite the fact that a silicon anode could potentially store ten times more lithium ions. The team says it has solved one of the problems associated with silicon, which nearly triples the energy density of current li-ion batteries. Read More
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
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