And then there was (more) light: Researchers boost performance quality of perovskites

In a paper published online this spring in the journal Nature Photonics, scientists at the University of Washington report that a prototype semiconductor thin-film has performed even better than today's best solar cell materials at emitting light.

ORNL develops new capability to evaluate human-driven change in Eastern U.S. streams

A stream classification system developed by researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory can help assess physical changes to United States streams and rivers from human influences and aid in more effective management of water resources.

A Catalytic Support Material Takes a Leading Role

Chemists at Argonne and Ames national laboratories have spotted an important and unexpected reaction mechanism -- called redox behavior -- in some catalyst support materials that are commonly used in the chemical industry.

Vibrations at an Exceptional Point

A team of international researchers led by engineers at Washington University has developed a way to use a light field to trigger a mechanical movement that will generate an acoustic wave.

Designing the Computational Architecture of the Future

Under a new research program, improved processing capabilities will enable sophisticated applications to operate more effectively in technologies like those that control unmanned aerial vehicles and the internet of things, as well as consumer electronics such as cell phones, cameras and health monitoring devices.

Liquid Microscopy Technique Reveals New Problem with Lithium-Oxygen Batteries

Using an advanced, new microscopy technique that can visualize chemical reactions occurring in liquid environments, researchers have discovered a new reason lithium-oxygen batteries -- which promise up to five times more energy than the lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and cell phones -- tend to slow down and die after just a few charge/discharge cycles.

States Boost Renewable Energy and Economic Development When Utilities Adopt Renewable Standards

A group of researchers led by Sanya Carley of Indiana University closely examined the history and evolution of state renewable portfolio standards and interviewed more than 40 experts about renewable portfolio standards implementation. The researchers' findings are newly published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Energy, in an article titled "Empirical evaluation of the stringency and design of renewable portfolio standards."

Nanocrystals Emit Light by Efficiently 'Tunneling' Electrons

Using advanced fabrication techniques, engineers at the University of California San Diego have built a nanosized device out of silver crystals that can generate light by efficiently "tunneling" electrons through a tiny barrier. The work brings plasmonics research a step closer to realizing ultra-compact light sources for high-speed, optical data processing and other on-chip applications.

Two Faces Offer Limitless Possibilities

Named for the mythical god with two faces, Janus membranes -- double-sided membranes that serve as gatekeepers between two substances -- have emerged as a material with potential industrial uses.

Relax, Just Break It

Argonne scientists and their collaborators are helping to answer long-held questions about a technologically important class of materials called relaxor ferroelectrics.

Putting Bacteria to Work

Bacteria are diverse and complex creatures that are demonstrating the ability to communicate organism-to-organism and even interact with the moods and perceptions of their hosts (human or otherwise). Scientists call this behavior "bacterial cognition," a systems biology concept that treats these microscopic creatures as beings that can behave like information processing systems.

New Computer Model Predicts How Fracturing Metallic Glass Releases Energy at the Atomic Level

Metallic glasses are an exciting research target for tantalizing applications; however, the difficulties associated with predicting how much energy these materials release when they fracture is slowing down development of metallic glass-based products. Recently, researchers developed a way of simulating to the atomic level how metallic glasses behave as they fracture. This modeling technique could improve computer-aided materials design and help researchers determine the properties of metallic glasses. The duo reports their findings in the Journal of Applied Physics.

The Relationship Between Charge Density Waves and Superconductivity? It's Complicated.

For a long time, physicists have tried to understand the relationship between a periodic pattern of conduction electrons called a charge density wave (CDW), and another quantum order, superconductivity, or zero electrical resistance, in the same material. Do they compete? Co-exist? Co-operate? Do they go their separate ways?

Splitting Water: Nanoscale Imaging Yields Key Insights

In the quest to realize artificial photosynthesis to convert sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into fuel - just as plants do - researchers need to not only identify materials to efficiently perform photoelectrochemical water splitting, but also to understand why a certain material may or may not work. Now scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have pioneered a technique that uses nanoscale imaging to understand how local, nanoscale properties can affect a material's macroscopic performance.

Feeding Plants to This Algae Could Fuel Your Car

The research shows that a freshwater production strain of microalgae, Auxenochlorella protothecoides, is capable of directly degrading and utilizing non-food plant substrates, such as switchgrass, for improved cell growth and lipid productivity, useful for boosting the algae's potential value as a biofuel.

No More Zigzags: Scientists Uncover Mechanism That Stabilizes Fusion Plasmas

Article describes simulation of physics behind elimination of sawtooth instabilities.

Solutions to Water Challenges Reside at the Interface

Leading Argonne National Laboratory researcher Seth Darling describes the most advanced research innovations that could address global clean water accessibility.

New Cost-Effective Instrument Measures Molecular Dynamics on a Picosecond Timescale

Studying the photochemistry has shown that ultraviolet radiation can set off harmful chemical reactions in the human body and, alternatively, can provide "photo-protection" by dispersing extra energy. To better understand the dynamics of these photochemical processes, a group of scientists irradiated the RNA base uracil with ultraviolet light and documented its behavior on a picosecond timescale. They discuss their work this week in The Journal of Chemical Physics.

Exploding Waves from Colliding Dissipative Pulses

The interaction of traveling waves in dissipative systems, physical systems driven by energy dissipation, can yield unexpected and sometimes chaotic results. These waves, known as dissipative pulses are driving experimental studies in a variety of areas that involve matter and energy flows. In the journal Chaos, researchers discuss their work studying collisions between three types of DSs to determine what happens when these traveling waves interact.

Theorists Publish Highest-Precision Prediction of Muon Magnetic Anomaly

UPTON, NY--Theoretical physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Brookhaven National Laboratory and their collaborators have just released the most precise prediction of how subatomic particles called muons--heavy cousins of electrons--"wobble" off their path in a powerful magnetic field.

How Gold Nanoparticles Could Improve Solar Energy Storage

Star-shaped gold nanoparticles, coated with a semiconductor, can produce hydrogen from water over four times more efficiently than other methods - opening the door to improved storage of solar energy and other advances that could boost renewable energy use and combat climate change, according to Rutgers University-New Brunswick researchers.

National Ignition Facility Sets New Energy Record

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility (NIF) laser system has set a new record, firing 2.15 megajoules (MJ) of energy to its target chamber - a 15 percent improvement over NIF's design specification of 1.8 MJ, and more than 10 percent higher than the previous 1.9 MJ energy record set in March 2012. Increasing NIF's energy limit will expand the parameter space for stockpile stewardship experiments and provide a significant boost to the pursuit of ignition.

Generating Electrical Power From Waste Heat

Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories have developed a tiny silicon-based device that can harness what was previously called waste heat and turn it into DC power.

Extracting Signals of Elusive Particles from Giant Chambers Filled with Liquefied Argon

In two new papers, the MicroBooNE collaboration describes how they use this detector to pick up the telltale signs of neutrinos. The papers include details of the signal processing algorithms that are critical to accurately reconstruct neutrinos' subtle interactions with atoms in the detector.

SLAC's Ultra-High-Speed 'Electron Camera' Catches Molecules at a Crossroads

An extremely fast "electron camera" at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has produced the most detailed atomic movie of the decisive point where molecules hit by light can either stay intact or break apart. The results could lead to a better understanding of how molecules respond to light in processes that are crucial for life, like photosynthesis and vision, or that are potentially harmful, such as DNA damage from ultraviolet light.