Materials & Coatings

New Class of ‘Soft’ Semiconductors Could Transform HD Displays

A 2-D plate showing alternating cesium lead chloride (blue) and cesium lead bromide (green) segments. (Credit: Letian Dou/Berkeley Lab and Connor G. Bischak/UC Berkeley)

A new type of semiconductor may be coming to a high-definition display near you. Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have shown that a class of semiconductor called halide perovskites can emit multiple, bright colors from a single nanowire at resolutions as small as 500 nanometers. The findings represent a clear challenge to quantum dot displays that rely upon traditional semiconductor nanocrystals to emit light. It could also influence the development of new applications in optoelectronics, photovoltaics, nanoscopic lasers, and ultrasensitive photodetectors, among others.

Posted in: News, Materials, Photonics, Semiconductors & ICs
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'Magic' Alloy Could Spur Next Generation of Solar Cells

The main growth chamber of the molecular epitaxy beam apparatus in which members of MSE Professor Rachel Goodman's research group characterize various semiconductors. (Photo Credit: Joseph Xu)

In what could be a major step forward for a new generation of solar cells called "concentrator photovoltaics," University of Michigan researchers have developed a new semiconductor alloy that can capture the near-infrared light located on the leading edge of the visible light spectrum. Easier to manufacture and at least 25 percent less costly than previous formulations, it's believed to be the world's most cost-effective material that can capture near-infrared light—and is compatible with the gallium arsenide semiconductors often used in concentrator photovoltaics.

Posted in: News, Materials, Photonics, Semiconductors & ICs
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Crawling Robot is Powered by Moisture

Researchers used flash-treated graphene oxide to create a crawler that moved when humidity was increased. Switching the humidity off and on several times induced the crawler to move 3.5 millimeters in 12 seconds, with no external energy supply. (Credit: Jilin University)

Using an off-the-shelf camera flash, researchers at Jilin University, China, turned an ordinary sheet of graphene oxide into a material that bends when exposed to moisture. They then used this material to make a spider-like crawler and claw robot that move in response to changing humidity, without the need for any external power.

Posted in: News, Materials, Motion Control, Robotics
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‘Solar Paint’ Produces Energy from Sunlight

A team from Australia’s RMIT University created a “solar paint” that generates its own energy. The sunlight-absorbing substance absorbs and splits water atoms, resulting in hydrogen that could someday be used to power fuel cells and conventional combustion engines.

Posted in: News, Energy Harvesting, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Coatings & Adhesives
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Super-Strong 'Glassy Carbon' is Elastic and Electric

A new compressed form of glassy carbon opens up possibilities for applications requiring low weight and high strength — from aerospace parts to football helmets.

Posted in: News, News, Ceramics
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Mechanical Actuators Bend as They “Breathe”

The equipment used for testing the new materials. (Credit: MIT)

Extreme temperatures can severely strain a mechanical component because its material may have trouble enduring the heat without degrading. To address the problem, researchers at MIT developed a new material that expands and contracts as it lets oxygen in and out. The result is a new way to make actuators that could be used in extremely hot environments.

Posted in: News, Materials, Mechanical Components, Motion Control
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3D-Printed Soft Robot ‘Walks’ on Any Terrain

Traditional robots often feature isolated mechanical joints. These discrete components limit a rover’s ability to traverse sand, stone, and other challenging environments.

A team at the University of California San Diego has demonstrated a more flexible option: a soft robot that lifts its legs over obstacles and operates on a variety of terrains. The 3D-printed quadrupedal technology may someday support search-and-rescue missions requiring intelligent navigation capabilities.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials, Automation, Robotics
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A New Material for Mars Habitats? Mars Itself

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a compaction technique that may someday be used to turn Mars soil into building blocks for the Red Planet. The scientists' new method of applying pressure offers construction possibilities as NASA plans manned Mars missions in the upcoming decades.

Posted in: News, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Materials
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Non-Toxic Material Generates Electricity Through Heat, Cold Air

Imagine a body sensor powered by one's jewelry, or a cooking pan that charges a cell phone in a few hours.

Using a combination of the chemical elements calcium, cobalt, and terbium, University of Utah researchers created an efficient, inexpensive and bio-friendly material that generates electricity through a thermoelectric process involving heat and cold air.

Posted in: News, Materials, Sensors
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Researchers Craft New Material That Could Improve LED Screens

Researchers working at the Ultrafast Laser Lab at the University of Kansas successfully created a new bilayer material, with each layer measuring less than one nanometer in thickness. The new material, that someday could lead to more efficient and versatile light emission, was made by combining atomically thin layers of molybdenum disulfide and rhenium disulfide.

Posted in: News, ptb catchall, LEDs, Powering & Controlling LEDs, Materials, Optical Components, Optics, Photonics
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