'Bulletproof' Battery: Kevlar Membrane for Safer, Thinner Lithium Rechargeables

New battery technology from the University of Michigan should be able to prevent the kind of fires that grounded Boeing 787 Dreamliners in 2013.

Calculating the Future of Solar-Fuel Refineries

A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has developed a new tool to help engineers better gauge the overall yield, efficiency and costs associated with scaling solar-fuel production processes up into large-scale refineries.

California's Policies Can Significantly Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions Through 2030

A new model of the impact of California's existing and proposed policies on its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals suggests that the state is on track to meet 2020 goals, and could achieve greater emission reductions by 2030, but the state will need to do more to reach its 2050 climate goals.

Self-Assembled Nanotextures Create Antireflective Surface on Silicon Solar Cells

Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory show that etching a nanoscale texture onto silicon creates an antireflective surface that works as well as state-of-the-art thin-film multilayer antireflective coatings for solar cells.

Humanity Has Exceeded 4 of 9 'Planetary Boundaries,' According to Researchers

An international team of researchers says climate change, the loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change, and altered biogeochemical cycles like phosphorus and nitrogen runoff have all passed beyond levels that put humanity in a "safe operating space." Civilization has crossed four of nine so-called planetary boundaries as the result of human activity, according to a report published today in Science by the 18-member research team.

Carbon Nanotube Finding Could Lead to Flexible Electronics with Longer Battery Life

University of Wisconsin-Madison materials engineers have made a significant leap toward creating higher-performance electronics with improved battery life -- and the ability to flex and stretch. Led by materials science Associate Professor Michael Arnold and Professor Padma Gopalan, the team has reported the highest-performing carbon nanotube transistors ever demonstrated. In addition to paving the way for improved consumer electronics, this technology could also have specific uses in industrial and military applications.

Story Tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, January 2015

While researchers in ORNL's buildings group focus on increasing energy efficiency using new foam insulation panels, the nanophase materials sector experiments with catalyst performance, revealing an oxidation discovery that could help reduce vehicle emissions. Additionally, ORNL researchers aim to reduce the size, weight and power for some particle accelerators with development of a new voltage supply. And by using water and nano-sized particles isolated from trees and plants, scientists explore low-cost and nontoxic metal oxides.

Zinc Oxide Materials Tapped for Tiny Energy Harvesting Devices

Today, we're surrounded by a variety of electronic devices that are moving increasingly closer to us - we can attach and wear them, or even implant electronics inside our bodies. Many types of smart devices are readily available and convenient to use. The goal now is to make wearable electronics that are flexible, sustainable and powered by ambient renewable energy.

Solar Cell Polymers with Multiplied Electrical Output

A team from Brookhaven Lab and Columbia University has paired up photovoltaic polymers that produce two units of electricity per unit of light instead of the usual one on a single molecular polymer chain. Having the two charges on the same molecule means the light-absorbing, energy-producing materials work efficiently when dissolved in liquids, which opens the way for a wide range of industrial scale manufacturing processes, including "printing" solar-energy-producing material like ink.

Mapping of Silver Matrix Formation in Batteries Will Enhance Efficiency

Scientists at Stony Brook University and the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory are using pioneering x-ray techniques to map internal atomic transformations of the highly conductive silver matrix formation within lithium-based batteries that may lead to the design of more efficient batteries. Their findings are published online today in the journal Science.

Compact Batteries Enhanced By Spontaneous Silver Matrix Formations

A conductive silver matrix forming inside an otherwise poorly performing battery enhances its efficiency and potential applications. X-rays revealed where, when, and how these nanoscale "bridges" emerge.

Emissions-Free Cars Get Closer

Hydrogen fuel cells -- possibly the best option for emission-free vehicles -- require costly platinum. Nickel and other metals work but aren't nearly as efficient. Findings published in Nature Communications this week help pin down the basic mechanisms of the fuel-cell reaction on platinum, which will help researchers create alternative electrocatalysts.

Hot Showers, Lower Power Bills with Heat Pump Water Heaters

Heat pump water heaters are an energy-efficient alternative to conventional electric resistance water heaters. Now research shows heat pump water heaters can also reduce an entire home's energy use - if they're connected to the appropriate ducting.

Microscopy Reveals how Atom-High Steps Impede Oxidation of Metal Surfaces

A new study reveals that certain features of metal surfaces can stop the process of oxidation in its tracks. The findings could be relevant to understanding and perhaps controlling oxidation in a wide range of materials--from catalysts to the superalloys used in jet engine turbines and the oxides in microelectronics.

Breakthrough in Predictions of Pressure-Dependent Combustion Chemical Reactions

Researchers at Sandia and Argonne national laboratories have demonstrated, for the first time, a method to successfully predict pressure-dependent chemical reaction rates. It's an important breakthrough in combustion and atmospheric chemistry that is expected to benefit auto and engine manufacturers, oil and gas utilities and other industries that employ combustion models.

Piezoelectricity in a 2D Semiconductor

A door has been opened to low-power off/on switches in micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and nanoelectronic devices, as well as ultrasensitive bio-sensors, with the first observation of piezoelectricity in a free standing two-dimensional semiconductor by a team of researchers with Berkeley Lab.

First Direct Evidence that a Mysterious Phase of Matter Competes with High-Temperature Superconductivity

Scientists have found the first direct evidence that a mysterious phase of matter known as the "pseudogap" competes with high-temperature superconductivity, robbing it of electrons that otherwise might pair up to carry current through a material with 100 percent efficiency.

Stunning Zinc Fireworks When Egg Meets Sperm

First images of molecular fireworks that pinpoint the origin of the zinc sparks. Zinc flux plays a central role in regulating the biochemical processes that ensure a healthy egg-to-embryo transition, and this new unprecedented quantitative information should be useful in improving in vitro fertilization methods.

Ultrafast Imaging of Complex Systems in 3-D at Near Atomic Resolution Becoming Increasingly Possible

It is becoming possible to image complex systems in 3-D with near-atomic resolution on ultrafast timescales using extremely intense X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) pulses. One important step toward ultrafast imaging of samples with a single X-ray shot is understanding the interaction of extremely brilliant and intense X-ray pulses with the sample, including ionization rates.

Getting Bot Responders Into Shape

Sandia National Laboratories is tackling one of the biggest barriers to the use of robots in emergency response: energy efficiency. Through a project supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Sandia is developing technology that will dramatically improve the endurance of legged robots, helping them operate for long periods while performing the types of locomotion most relevant to disaster response scenarios.

Switching to Spintronics

Berkeley Lab researchers used an electric field to reverse the magnetization direction in a multiferroic spintronic device at room temperature, a demonstration that points a new way towards spintronics and smaller, faster and cheaper methods of storing and processing data.

Study Finds California's Cap-and-Trade Program Will Cause Ten Cent/Gallon Increase at the Gas Pumps After Jan 1

Analysis of cap-and-trade finds that a change in the cost of selling gasoline, up or down, is quickly and fully passed through to consumers.

Earth's Most Abundant Mineral Finally Has a Name

An ancient meteorite and high-energy X-rays have helped scientists conclude a half century of effort to find, identify and characterize a mineral that makes up 38 percent of the Earth.

Storing Hydrogen Underground Could Boost Transportation, Energy Security

Large-scale storage of low-pressure, gaseous hydrogen in salt caverns and other underground sites for transportation fuel and grid-scale energy applications offers several advantages over above-ground storage, says a recent Sandia National Laboratories study sponsored by the Department of Energy's Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

X-Ray Laser Reveals How Bacterial Protein Morphs in Response to Light

Researchers have captured the highest-resolution snapshots ever taken with an X-ray laser that show changes in a protein's structure over time, revealing how a key protein in a photosynthetic bacterium changes shape when hit by light. They achieved a resolution of 1.6 angstroms, equivalent to the radius of a single tin atom.