The growing need for 'green' energy sources combined with silicon solar cells' stagnating power conversion efficiencies have lead to a keen search for an alternative to silicon that would bring about a major change. Perovskite solar cell technology, boasting potential for high efficiency, low-cost scalable photovoltaic solar cells, may just be a suitable contender in this race. Perovskites, a class of materials that share a similar structure, display a myriad of exciting properties that position them as attractive candidates for enabling low-cost, efficient photovoltaics that could even be sprayed onto rooftops and various other surfaces.
Flexible thermoelectric generators that are capable of producing electricity out of a temperature difference could have many applications in consumer and medical electronics. However, conventional thermoelectric materials are rigid and brittle and don't lend themselves to be used with flexible devices. Researchers have now demonstrated a flexible paper-based devices can be easily stacked or efficiently folded and cut through origami and kirigami techniques so that it is possible to achieve higher power densities. This allows for enough electricity to be generated to supply low-power systems, especially in applications where flexibility is advantageous, such as robotics, cybernetics, wearable devices or bio-integrated systems.
Metal nanoparticles can concentrate light near their surface through the excitation of surface plasmons, which are collective oscillations of electrons. Depending on the size and shape of the metal particles, surface plasmons can show a range of different optical responses and colors. In new work, researchers have now achieved narrow optical resonances and tailoring of the plasmonic resonance within a single system. Since each mode can be independently optimized depending on the stretching direction, their single system can cover a large wavelength bandwidth and meet specific application requirements at the same time.
Lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries, which employ sulfur as cathode and metallic lithium as anode materials, have been extensively studied as promising alternatives to the widely used lithium-ion batteries because - theoretically - they can render 3-6 times higher energy density than conventional lithium-ion batteries. However, due to the intrinsic insulating nature of the active material (sulfur and lithium sulfide), Li-S batteries have suffered from low utilization of sulfur and thus low energy density. In new work, researchers have designed coaxial nanotubes with adjustable content of MnO2 to encapsulate sulfur as a high-performance cathode for Li-S batteries.
A skin-like, wearable system combines colorimetric and electronic function for precise dosimetry in the UV-A and UV-B regions of the spectrum. This platform is suitable for determination of instantaneous UV exposure levels and skin temperature. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a major risk factor for most skin cancers. UV rays damage the DNA of skin cells. Skin cancers start when this damage affects the DNA of genes that control skin cell growth. Creating awareness in UV exposure is widely believed to be an important aspect in improving skin health.
The 'Action Plan Nanotechnology 2020' introduces the Federal Government's inter-departmental support strategy for nanotechnology in the period 2016-2020. It thus pursues the objective of continuing to exploit the opportunities and potential of nanotechnology in Germany, without disregarding any potential risks to humans and the environment. Inn addition to a description of the status quo of national nanotechnology, for the first time after 10 years of inter-ministerial cooperation a conclusion is drawn on the progress that has been achieved from the point of view of the participating ministries, where potential gaps can be identified and therefore the need for action is derived with respect to future activities.
One reason why people are so excited about nanopore DNA sequencing is that the technology could possibly be used to create 'tricorder'-like devices for detecting pathogens or diagnosing genetic disorders rapidly and on-the-spot. Sequencing technologies have made it cheaper and faster to read the sequence of bases on a strand of DNA. A promising technology to take these advances further is nanopore sequencing. Yet, nanopores enable another important way to analyze DNA: genomes can also be mapped.
Efficient water splitting for large-scale, industrial applications requires highly active, low cost, and robust catalysts. Motivated by this challenge, enormous efforts have been devoted to developing cost-efficient alternatives including sulfides, selenides, phosphides, and many other nonprecious transition metal compounds. Now, scientists have shown for the first time that metals or metal hydroxides can be rapidly converted into phosphides at low temperature using a newly developed plasma-assisted route.