Materials & Coatings

Optical Fiber for Solar Cells

These materials enable new solar-powered devices that are small, lightweight, and can be used without connection to existing electrical grids. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Polymeric and inorganic semiconductors offer relatively high quantum efficiencies, and are much less expensive and versatile to fabricate than non-amorphous silicon wafers. An optical fiber and cladding can be designed and fabricated to confine light for transport within ultraviolet and near-infrared media, using evanescent waves, and to transmit visible wavelength light for direct lighting.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy Storage, Solar Power, Fiber Optics


Carbon Nanotube Tower-Based Supercapacitor

A new technology to create electrochemical double-layer supercapacitors is provided using carbon nanotubes as electrodes of the storage medium. This invention allows efficient transport between the capacitor electrodes through the porous nature of the nanotubes, and has a low interface resistance between the electrode material and the collector. Carbon nanotubes directly grown on a metal surface are used to improve the supercapacitor performance. The nanotubes offer a high surface area and usable porosity for a given volume and mass, both of which are highly desirable for supercapacitor operation.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy Storage


Developing Ceramic-Like Bulk Metallic Glass Gears

This technology has applications in gears, bearings, and gearboxes for automotive, spacecraft, and robotics. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California This invention describes systems and methods for implementing bulk metallic glass-based (BMG) macroscale gears with high wear resistance. This invention creates bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) with selected mechanical properties that are very similar to ceramics, such as high strength and resistance to wear, but without high melting temperatures. Ceramics are high-strength, hard materials that are typically used for their extremely high melting temperatures. Because of their extreme hardness, ceramics are optimal materials for making gears, due to their low wear loss. Unfortunately, ceramics suffer from low fracture toughness (typically <1 MPa·m1/2), and their high melting temperatures prevent them from being cast into net-shaped parts. Ceramic gears, for example, must be ground to a final shape at great expense.

Posted in: Briefs, Ceramics, Metals


Product of the Month: March 2015

Instron, Norwood, MA, introduced the AVE 2 strain measurement system that conforms to testing standards such as ISO 527, ASTM D3039, and ASTM D638. The video extensometer utilizes patented measurement technology, and adapts to the normal fluctuations of indoor environmental conditions. It can be adapted to any testing machine that uses a ±10V analog input. Designed to reduce errors from thermal and lighting variations, the device uses the real-time 490-Hz data rate while achieving a 1-micron accuracy. It allows for testing under multiple environmental conditions and can be used for strain measurement with Digital Image Correlation (DIC). The device measures both modulus and strain-to-failure of most materials including plastics, metals, composites, textiles, films, and bio-materials.

Posted in: Products, Measuring Instruments


Researcher Spotlight: Atom­Thick Material Offers 2D Imaging Possibilities

Rice University scientists have developed a two-­dimensional, atom­-thick, light-­sensitive material called CIS, a single­-layer matrix of copper, indium, and selenium atoms. Sidong Lei, a graduate student, also built a prototype — a three-­pixel charge­-coupled device (CCD) sensor — to prove the material’s ability to capture an image. The optoelectronic memory material may be the basis for future flat imaging devices and two­-dimensional electronics.

Posted in: Articles, Sensors


Customizing Visual 3D Optical Coatings

There are many ways to coat an optic and optimize the coating for a specific application, some more interesting than others. But any thin film coating process requires raw materials, coating capabilities, deposition chamber(s), coating software, a spectrophotometer, and an efficient production system that can produce the desired coating or effect while keeping within the customer’s requisite specifications. This article will focus on the challenge of customizing a non-polarizing cube beamsplitter for a 3D visual application and detail the steps taken to make this challenge a reality.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Coatings & Adhesives, Optics, Photonics


Zinc Oxide Materials Power Tiny Energy Harvesting Devices

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. This last goal inspired researchers to explore how the attractive physical features of zinc oxide (ZnO) materials could be used to tap into abundant mechanical energy sources to power micro devices. They discovered that inserting aluminum nitride insulating layers into ZnO-based energy harvesting devices led to a significant improvement of the devices’ performance. The group’s findings are expected to provide an effective approach for realizing “nanogenerators” for self-powered electronic systems such as portable communication devices, healthcare monitoring devices, environmental monitoring devices, and implantable medical devices. Source:

Posted in: News, Electronic Components, Energy Harvesting, Renewable Energy, Metals


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