Tag Archives: nanostructures

Micro Fuel Cells Made of Glass — Power for Your iPad?

Engineers at Yale University have developed a new breed of micro fuel cell that could serve as a long-lasting, low-cost, and eco-friendly power source for portable electronic devices, such as tablet computers, smart phones, and remote sensors. The researchers describe the novel device in a paper published online in the journal Small.

An alternative to a battery, a fuel cell is an electrochemical device that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce energy, giving off only water and heat as byproducts. But the materials and methods commonly used for making micro fuel cells are fragile, inefficient, and expensive. (more…)

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Nano-Sandwich Technique Slims Down Solar Cells, Improves Efficiency

Researchers from North Carolina State University have found a way to create much slimmer thin-film solar cells without sacrificing the cells’ ability to absorb solar energy. Making the cells thinner should significantly decrease manufacturing costs for the technology.

“We were able to create solar cells using a ‘nanoscale sandwich’ design with an ultra-thin ‘active’ layer,” says Dr. Linyou Cao, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research. “For example, we created a solar cell with an active layer of amorphous silicon that is only 70 nanometers (nm) thick. This is a significant improvement, because typical thin-film solar cells currently on the market that also use amorphous silicon have active layers between 300 and 500 nm thick.” The “active” layer in thin-film solar cells is the layer of material that actually absorbs solar energy for conversion into electricity or chemical fuel. (more…)

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IBM Research Determines Atomic Limits of Magnetic Memory

*IBM scientists create the world’s smallest magnetic memory bit using only 12 atoms.*

*First-ever demonstration of engineered atomic-scale structures storing information magnetically at low temperatures.*

*New experimental atomic-scale magnet memory is at least 100 times denser than today’s hard disk drives and solid state memory chips.*

SAN JOSE, Calif. – 12 Jan 2012: Punctuating 30 years of nanotechnology research, scientists from IBM Research have successfully demonstrated the ability to store information in as few as 12 magnetic atoms. This is significantly less than today’s disk drives, which use about one million atoms to store a single bit of information. The ability to manipulate matter by its most basic components – atom by atom – could lead to the vital understanding necessary to build smaller, faster and more energy-efficient devices.

While silicon transistor technology has become cheaper, denser and more efficient, fundamental physical limitations suggest this path of conventional scaling is unsustainable. Alternative approaches are needed to continue the rapid pace of computing innovation. (more…)

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