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Life Sciences - Materials Science - 31.08.2020
Autophagy: the beginning of the end
Autophagy: the beginning of the end
Scientists reveal key steps in the formation of the recycling cen-ters of the cell Autophagy, from the Greek for 'self-eating', is an essential process that isolates and recycles cellular components under conditions of stress or when resources are limited. Cargoes such as misfolded proteins or damaged organelles are captured in a double membrane-bound com-partment called the autophagosome and targeted for degradation.

Environment - Materials Science - 27.08.2020
Mini power plants from coated blue-green algae
Mini power plants from coated blue-green algae
Blue-green algae are among the oldest living creatures on Earth and have perfected the use of sunlight over billions of years. Empa scientists have now equipped these humble unicellular organisms with semiconductor coatings to create mini power plants, which supply biofuels and are photocatalytically active in sunlight.

Materials Science - Chemistry - 24.08.2020
New insights into lithium-ion battery failure mechanism
Researchers have identified a potential new degradation mechanism for electric vehicle batteries - a key step to designing effective methods to improve battery lifespan. The researchers, from the Universities of Cambridge and Liverpool, and the Diamond Light Source, have identified one of the reasons why state-of-the-art 'nickel-rich' battery materials become fatigued, and can no longer be fully charged after prolonged use.

Physics - Materials Science - 20.08.2020
2D Electronics Get an Atomic Tuneup
2D Electronics Get an Atomic Tuneup
To tune the band gap, a key parameter in controlling the electrical conductivity and optical properties of semiconductors, researchers typically engineer alloys, a process in which two or more materials are combined to achieve properties that otherwise could not be achieved by a pristine material. But engineering band gaps of conventional semiconductors via alloying has often been a guessing game, because scientists have not had a technique to directly "see" whether the alloy's atoms are arranged in a specific pattern, or randomly dispersed.

Materials Science - Innovation - 20.08.2020
Aerogel - the micro structural material of the future
Aerogel - the micro structural material of the future
Aerogel is an excellent thermal insulator. So far, however, it has mainly been used on a large scale, for example in environmental technology, in physical experiments or in industrial catalysis. Empa researchers have now succeeded in making aerogels accessible to microelectronics and precision engineering: An article in the latest issue of the scientific journal "Nature" shows how 3D-printed parts made of silica aerogels and silica composite materials can be manufactured with high precision.

Materials Science - Microtechnics - 19.08.2020
Biomorphic batteries could provide 72x more energy for robots
Like biological fat reserves store energy in animals, a new rechargeable zinc battery integrates into the structure of a robot to provide much more energy, a team led by the University of Michigan has shown. This approach to increasing capacity will be particularly important as robots shrink to the microscale and below-scales at which current stand-alone batteries are too big and inefficient.

Materials Science - Electroengineering - 19.08.2020
Toward an Ultrahigh Energy Density Capacitor
Toward an Ultrahigh Energy Density Capacitor
By introducing defects to a common material, Berkeley Lab researchers create a highly efficient capacitor with dramatically increased energy density Capacitors that rapidly store and release electric energy are key components in modern electronics and power systems. However, the most commonly used ones have low energy densities compared to other storage systems like batteries or fuel cells, which in turn cannot discharge and recharge rapidly without sustaining damage.

Astronomy / Space Science - Materials Science - 19.08.2020
New instrument for the search for life in space
New instrument for the search for life in space
Researchers at the University of Bern have developed the highly sensitive instrument ORIGIN for future space missions, which can detect minute traces of life. Space agencies such as NASA have already expressed interest in testing ORIGIN for future missions. For example, the instrument could be used for missions to the icy moons Europa (Jupiter) and Enceladus (Saturn).

Materials Science - Environment - 17.08.2020
Transparent solar panels for windows hit record 8% efficiency
Transparent solar panels for windows hit record 8% efficiency
In a step closer to skyscrapers that serve as power sources, a team led by University of Michigan researchers has set a new efficiency record for color-neutral, transparent solar cells. The team achieved 8.1% efficiency and 43.3% transparency with an organic, or carbon-based, design rather than conventional silicon.

Physics - Materials Science - 17.08.2020
Slow-light beam-steering
Slow-light beam-steering
Researchers have fashioned ultrathin silicon nanoantennas that trap and redirect light, for applications in quantum computing, LIDAR and even the detection of viruses. Light is notoriously fast. Its speed is crucial for rapid information exchange, but as light zips through materials, its chances of interacting and exciting atoms and molecules can become very small.

Physics - Materials Science - 13.08.2020
Uranium reveals its true nature
Uranium reveals its true nature
Scientists have made a significant discovery in how nanoscale minerals form naturally, including the way in which they transition from a soluble to a solid state. Their findings could be used to inform radioactive waste management. Most people are familiar with uranium as a fuel for nuclear power plants.

Materials Science - Physics - 12.08.2020
Coffee stains inspire optimal printing technique for electronics
Using an alcohol mixture, researchers modified how ink droplets dry, enabling cheap industrial-scale printing of electronic devices at unprecedented scales. The natural form of ink droplets is spherical - however, because of their composition, our ink droplets behave like pancakes Tawfique Hasan Have you ever spilled your coffee on your desk? You may then have observed one of the most puzzling phenomena of fluid mechanics - the coffee ring effect.

Health - Materials Science - 11.08.2020
A wound dressing that kills bacteria
A wound dressing that kills bacteria
In order to combat bacterial wound infections, Empa researchers have developed cellulose membranes equipped with antimicrobial peptides. Initial results show: The skin-friendly membranes made of plant-based materials kill bacteria very efficiently. If germs invade a wound, they can trigger a long-lasting infection that may fail to heal or even spread throughout the body, leading to life-threatening blood poisoning (sepsis).

Physics - Materials Science - 10.08.2020
A highly light-absorbent and tunable material
A highly light-absorbent and tunable material
By layering different two-dimensional materials, physicists at the University of Basel have created a novel structure with the ability to absorb almost all light of a selected wavelength. The achievement relies on a double layer of molybdenum disulfide. The new structure's particular properties make it a candidate for applications in optical components or as a source of individual photons, which play a key role in quantum research.

Physics - Materials Science - 10.08.2020
"Simulation microscope" examines transistors of the future
Since the discovery of graphene, two-dimensional materials have been the focus of materials research. Among other things, they could be used to build tiny, high-performance transistors. Researchers at ETH Zurich and EPF Lausanne have now simulated and evaluated one hundred possible materials for this purpose and discovered 13 promising candidates.

Astronomy / Space Science - Materials Science - 10.08.2020
Simulating crash into asteroid reveals its heavy metal psyche
Simulating crash into asteroid reveals its heavy metal psyche
A new study of the biggest Main Belt asteroid, Psyche, finds it might be the remnant of a planet that never fully formed Psyche is an interesting body to study because it is likely the remnant of a planetary core that was disrupted during the accretion stage, and we can learn a lot about planetary formation from Psyche if it is indeed primarily metallic.

Materials Science - Health - 07.08.2020
A titanate nanowire mask that can eliminate pathogens
A titanate nanowire mask that can eliminate pathogens
Filter "paper" made from titanium oxide nanowires is capable of trapping pathogens and destroying them with light. This discovery by an EPFL laboratory could be put to use in personal protective equipment, as well as in ventilation and air conditioning systems. As part of attempts to curtail the Covid-19 pandemic, paper masks are increasingly being made mandatory.

Materials Science - Chemistry - 05.08.2020
A Pathway to Longer-Lasting Lithium Batteries
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Physics - Materials Science - 05.08.2020
May the force be with you: detecting ultrafast light by its force
A McGill research team has developed a new technique to detect nano-sized imperfections in materials. They believe this discovery will lead to improvements in the optical detectors used in a wide range of technologies, from cell phones to cameras and fiber optics, as well as in solar cells. The researchers, led by Professor Peter Grutter from McGill's Physics Department, used atomic force microscopy to detect the ultrafast forces that arise when light interacts with matter.

Life Sciences - Materials Science - 04.08.2020
Cells relax their membrane to control protein sorting
Cells relax their membrane to control protein sorting
Researchers have succeeded in measuring the tension of the membrane of an organelle forming inside a cell. The tension in the outer membrane of cells plays an important role in a number of biological processes. A localised drop in tension, for example, makes it easier for the surface to be bending inward and form invaginations that will become free vesicles inside the cell.