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Materials Science - Chemistry - 30.12.2017
A step towards cheap aluminium batteries
A step towards cheap aluminium batteries
The energy transition depends on technologies that allow the inexpensive temporary storage of electricity from renewable sources. A promising new candidate is aluminium batteries, which are made from cheap and abundant raw materials. Scientists from Maksym Kovalenko's research group, which is based at both ETH Zurich and in Empa's Laboratory for Thin Films and Photovoltaics , are researching and developing batteries made from abundant raw materials.

Chemistry - Materials Science - 23.12.2017
Search engine for «smart wood»
Search engine for «smart wood»
Mark Schubert modifies wood properties with the aid of the enzyme laccase. However, the search for suitable ingredients is complex - a bit like trying to find the key to an unknown lock. Instead of long, expensive series of experiments, Schubert uses artificial intelligence as it gets him to the goal more quickly.

Materials Science - 12.12.2017
Tailor-made asphalt
Tailor-made asphalt
The one ideal asphalt for all conditions does not exist: climatic conditions, traffic frequencies and loads place different demands on the pavement. Another challenge: preparing old asphalt so that it can be used for new pavements. Thanks to Empa researchers, the design of the ideal asphalt for every type of road has finally become easier.

Materials Science - Environment - 08.12.2017
Guanidinium stabilizes perovskite solar cells at 19% efficiency
Guanidinium stabilizes perovskite solar cells at 19% efficiency
Incorporating guanidinium into perovskite solar cells stabilizes their efficiency at 19% for 1000 hours under full-sunlight testing conditions. With the power-conversion efficiency of silicon solar cells plateauing around 25%, perovskites are now ideally placed to become the market's next generation of photovoltaics.

Chemistry - Materials Science - 05.12.2017
Warmed up and raring to go
Warmed up and raring to go
During cold-start, a car engine emits far more particulate matter and other pollutants than during warm conditions. This is because a cold catalytic converter is much less efficient at low exhaust gas temperatures. So what's the answer? Preheat the cat with microwaves. Empa scientists have developed the first microwave converter heating for passenger car applications.

Materials Science - 16.11.2017
The stacked colour sensor
The stacked colour sensor
Red-sensitive, blue-sensitive and green-sensitive colour sensors stacked on top of each other instead of being lined up in a mosaic pattern - this principle could allow image sensors with unprecedented resolution and sensitivity to light to be created.

Materials Science - Physics - 10.11.2017
A rubber power station
A rubber power station
Researchers from Empa have developed a flexible material that generates electricity when stressed. In future, it might be used as a sensor, integrated into clothing or even implanted in the human body, for instance, to power a pacemaker.

Materials Science - Health - 31.10.2017
Illuminated pajamas treat newborns
Illuminated pajamas treat newborns
Babies who suffer from jaundice after birth are treated with shortwave light. Empa researchers have now developed illuminated pajamas that replace the treatment in an incubator.

Environment - Materials Science - 24.10.2017
Adhesives and composite materials made from Swiss tree bark
Adhesives and composite materials made from Swiss tree bark
Studies show that tannins extracted from native tree bark can be used to produce adhesives and composite materials. An additional area of application might be 3D printing. The bark of native conifers is known as a waste product in the timber industry. It is mostly burnt or used as garden mulch. A team from the National Research Programme "Resource Wood" (NRP 66) has now developed a new process to extract valuable tannins from tree bark to produce adhesives and composite materials.

Music - Materials Science - 19.10.2017
As black as ebony
As black as ebony
Like many tropical wood types, ebony is an endangered species that is tricky to use, such in in-strument manufacturing.

Materials Science - Innovation - 12.10.2017
Construction prototype for ultra-thin roof
Construction prototype for ultra-thin roof
Researchers from ETH Zurich have built a prototype of an ultra-thin, curved concrete roof using innovative digital design and fabrication methods.

Materials Science - 12.10.2017
Self-healing materials inspired by plants
Self-healing materials inspired by plants
Scientists have studied how the flax plant heals itself after it has been wounded. They measured changes in the plant's mechanical properties, like stiffness and damping, and examined the plant's self-repair mechanisms. Because natural fibers are being increasingly used to make composite materials, understanding how such mechanisms work can help scientists develop self-healing materials with better performance, drawing on methods inspired by nature.

Materials Science - Environment - 11.10.2017
Database clarifies bottom-up design of cement
Database clarifies bottom-up design of cement
An international team of researchers from EPFL, ETHZ and Rice University in Houston creates a database tool for the design of cement, a component of concrete, the most-used construction material in the world and a significant source of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Materials Science - Environment - 28.09.2017
Record stability for perovskite solar cells, efficiency over 20%
Record stability for perovskite solar cells, efficiency over 20%
EPFL scientists have greatly improved the operational stability of perovskite solar cells by introducing cuprous thiocyanate protected by a thin layer of reduced graphene oxide.

Chemistry - Materials Science - 26.09.2017
New synthesis boosts commercialization
New synthesis boosts commercialization
Chemists from Empa have developed and patented an environmentally friendly way to produce flame retardants for foams that can be used in mattresses and upholstery.

Physics - Materials Science - 07.09.2017
New microscopy method offers one-shot 3D imaging of nanostructures
New microscopy method offers one-shot 3D imaging of nanostructures
EPFL scientists have developed a scanning transmission electron microscopy method that can quickly and efficiently generate 3D representations of curvilinear nanostructures. Image caption: Superposed, tilt-less electron microscopy stereo image (color-filtered) of carbon nanospheres decorated with nanoparticles.

Physics - Materials Science - 04.09.2017
Carving diamonds for optical components
Carving diamonds for optical components
Thanks to a new technique developed at EPFL, optical diffraction gratings can now be made out of pure diamond, with their surfaces smoothed down to the very last atom. These new devices can be used to alter the wavelength of high-powered lasers or in cutting-edge spectrographs. A team of EPFL researchers has developed an unconventional way of microscopically cutting diamonds into a particular shape and smoothing them at an atomic level.

Health - Materials Science - 07.08.2017
Big issues around small particles
Big issues around small particles
An Empa team has succeeded in developing a new three-dimensional cell model of the human placental barrier. The "model organ" can quickly and reliably deliver new information on the intake of substances, such as nano-particles, by the placental barrier and on any possible toxic effects for the unborn child.

Materials Science - Environment - 03.08.2017
When time ravages from within
When time ravages from within
Will the reinforced concrete bridge still be standing for years to come, or has corrosion already set in? ETH scientists have discovered that previous concrete samples were too small to allow a reliable statement on the condition of reinforced concrete. Taminabrücke opened in June this year following four years of construction.

Materials Science - Environment - 26.07.2017
Not air con, but a cooling curtain
Not air con, but a cooling curtain
Climate change is leading to ever higher temperatures and aridity in many areas, making efficient room cooling increasingly important.
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