Plenty of Room at the Top: Breaking through the Sunlight-to-Electricity Conversion Limit

In hybrid materials, "hot" electrons live longer, producing electricity, not heat, in solar cells.

Efforts to Revive Coal Industry Unlikely to Work, May Slow Job Growth

Current federal efforts to revive the coal industry will likely do more harm than good to fragile Appalachian communities transitioning from coal as a major source of employment, according to a study conducted by Indiana University researchers.

Scientists Get First Close-ups of Finger-Like Growths that Trigger Battery Fires

Menlo Park, Calif. -- Scientists from Stanford University and the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have captured the first atomic-level images of finger-like growths called dendrites that can pierce the barrier between battery compartments and trigger short circuits or fires. Dendrites and the problems they cause have been a stumbling block on the road to developing new types of batteries that store more energy so electric cars, cell phones, laptops and other devices can go longer between charges.

Deep-Depletion: A New Concept for MOSFETs

Diamond is largely recognized as the ideal material in wide bandgap development, but realizing its full potential in field-effect transistors has been challenging. Researchers incorporate a new approach by using the deep-depletion regime of bulk-boron-doped diamond MOSFETs. The new proof of concept enables the production of simple diamond MOSFET structures from single boron-doped epilayer stacks. This method increases the mobility by an order of magnitude. The results are published this week in Applied Physics Letters.

Imperfections Show "Swimming" Particles the Way to Self-Healing and Shape-Changing

Defects in liquid crystals act as guides in tiny oceans, directing particle traffic.

Piezoelectrics Stretch Their Potential with a Method for Flexible Sticking

Thin-film piezoelectrics, with dimensions on the scale of micrometers or smaller, offer potential for new applications where smaller dimensions or a lower voltage operation are required. Researchers have demonstrated a new technique for making piezoelectric microelectromechanical systems by connecting a sample of lead zirconate titanate piezoelectric thin films to flexible polymer substrates. They report their results in this week's Journal of Applied Physics.

Nanoribbons Enable "On-Off" Switch for Graphene

Built from the bottom up, nanoribbons can be semiconducting, enabling broad electronic applications.

Tree Mortality and Droughts: A Global Perspective

Stress-induced embolisms that interrupt water transport are a universal component of tree mortality.

Ames Laboratory, UConn Discover Superconductor with Bounce

The U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory has discovered extreme "bounce," or super-elastic shape-memory properties in a material that could be applied for use as an actuator in the harshest of conditions, such as outer space, and might be the first in a whole new class of shape memory materials.

Experiment Provides Deeper Look into the Nature of Neutrinos

The first glimpse of data from the full array of a deeply chilled particle detector operating beneath a mountain in Italy sets the most precise limits yet on where scientists might find a theorized process to help explain why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe.

Transparent Solar Technology Represents 'Wave of the Future'

See-through solar materials that can be applied to windows represent a massive source of untapped energy and could harvest as much power as bigger, bulkier rooftop solar units, scientists report today in Nature Energy.

Electricity From Shale Gas vs. Coal: Lifetime Toxic Releases From Coal Much Higher

Despite widespread concern about potential human health impacts from hydraulic fracturing, the lifetime toxic chemical releases associated with coal-generated electricity are 10 to 100 times greater than those from electricity generated with natural gas obtained via fracking, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Tiny Tornados at the Dawn of the Universe

Swirling soup of matter's fundamental building blocks spins ten billion trillion times faster than the most powerful tornado, setting new record for "vorticity."

Taming 'Wild' Electrons in Graphene

Graphene - a one-atom-thick layer of the stuff in pencils - is a better conductor than copper and is very promising for electronic devices, but with one catch: Electrons that move through it can't be stopped. Until now, that is. Scientists at Rutgers University-New Brunswick have learned how to tame the unruly electrons in graphene, paving the way for the ultra-fast transport of electrons with low loss of energy in novel systems. Their study was published online in Nature Nanotechnology.

On-Demand 3-D Printing of Tiny Magic Wands

Direct writing of pure-metal structures may advance novel light sources, sensors and information storage technologies.

Heavy Quarks Probe the Early Universe

New studies of behaviors of particles containing heavy quarks shed light into what the early universe looked like in its first microseconds.

Cool Roofs Have Water Saving Benefits Too

The energy and climate benefits of cool roofs have been well established: By reflecting rather than absorbing the sun's energy, light-colored roofs keep buildings, cities, and even the entire planet cooler. Now a new study by the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found that cool roofs can also save water by reducing how much is needed for urban irrigation.

The Blob That Ate the Tokamak: Physicists Gain Understanding of How Bubbles at the Edge of Plasmas Can Drain Heat and Reduce Fusion Reaction Efficiency

Scientists at PPPL have completed new simulations that could provide insight into how blobs at the plasma edge behave. The simulations, produced by a code called XGC1 developed by a national team based at PPPL, performed kinetic simulations of two different regions of the plasma edge simultaneously.

Scientists Solve a Magnesium Mystery in Rechargeable Battery Performance

A Berkeley Lab-led research team has discovered a surprising set of chemical reactions involving magnesium that degrade battery performance even before the battery can be charged up. The findings could steer the design of next-gen batteries.

Extreme Light Trapping

Shawn-Yu Lin, professor of physics, applied physics, and astronomy at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has built a nanostructure whose crystal lattice bends light as it enters the material and directs it in a path parallel to the surface, known as "parallel to interface refraction."

Researchers Customize Catalysts to Boost Product Yields, Decrease Chemical Separation Costs

For some crystalline catalysts, what you see on the surface is not always what you get in the bulk, according to two studies led by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Innovative Design Using Loops of Liquid Metal Can Improve Future Fusion Power Plants, Scientists Say

Article describes proposed design for production of steady-state plasma in future fusion power plants.

Scientists Create Most Powerful Micro-Scale Bio-Solar Cell Yet

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York have created a micro-scale biological solar cell that generates a higher power density for longer than any existing cell of its kind.

ESnet's Science DMZ Design Could Help Transfer, Protect Medical Research Data

As medicine becomes more data-intensive, Berkeley Lab & ESnet's Medical Science DMZ eyed as secure solution for transferring data

Breakthrough Cuttable, Flexible, Submersible and Ballistic-Tested Lithium-ion Battery Offers New Paradigm of Safety and Performance

Breakthrough Cuttable, Flexible, Submersible and Ballistic-Tested Lithium-ion Battery Offers New Paradigm of Safety and Performance