News

Researchers Prevent Fires in Next-Gen Lithium Batteries

New research from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Menlo Park, CA, could help remove a major barrier to developing lithium-sulfur and lithium-air batteries. The SLAC engineering team discovered that adding two chemicals to a lithium metal battery's electrolyte prevents the formation of dendrites, “fingers” of lithium that pierce the barrier between the battery’s halves and cause electrical shorts, overheating, and fires. The engineers discovered that adding both chemicals, in specific amounts, stopped lithium dendrite formation and the lithium metal electrode acquired a stable protective coating that improved the battery’s performance.

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New System Stores Solar Energy at Night

Common solar energy systems today are unable to use the generated energy at night or in cloudy conditions. A University of Texas at Arlington materials science and engineering team has developed a new energy cell that stores large-scale solar energy even when it is dark.

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New Method Makes Ultrasensitive Conductivity Measurements

Researchers at Rice University have discovered a new way to make ultrasensitive conductivity measurements at optical frequencies on high-speed nanoscale electronic components. The researchers linked pairs of puck-shaped metal nanodisks with metallic nanowires and showed how the flow of current at optical frequencies through the nanowires produced “charge transfer plasmons” with unique optical signatures.

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Driving Simulator Tests Artificial Lens for Cataract Patients

An advanced driving simulator will be used to test a patient’s driving ability after cataract surgery. The trial will help determine if a newly developed artificial lens will be approved for sale in the United States. The lens replaces the patient’s natural, cataract-ravaged lens during surgery, and the trial will determine if it sufficiently reduces visual distractions caused by headlights when driving at night.

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Kimberly Hambuchen, Deputy Project Manager, Human Robotics System Project, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX

Kim Hambuchen is currently building user interfaces for Vakyrie, a six-foot-two, 286-pound humanoid robot. The two-legged Valkyrie builds on NASA’s Robonaut, a robotic assistant currently onboard the International Space Station.

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New Technique Enables Fast, Inexpensive Nanofiber Production

The high cost to manufacture nanofibers has relegated them to just a few niche industries. MIT researchers developed a new technique for producing nanofibers that increases the rate of production fourfold while reducing energy consumption by more than 90 percent, holding out the prospect of cheap, efficient nanofiber production.

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Speedy Laser Mirrors Enable Better Welding

Silicon micromirrors can guide laser beams at extremely high speeds, allowing operators to dose heat input to workpieces with absolute precision. But to date, they have not been robust enough to be used for laser cutting and welding. Researchers have developed fast, durable mirrors that are capable of performing challenging cutting and welding tasks.

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