New ‘self-healing’ gel makes electronics more flexible

Researchers have developed a first-of-its-kind self-healing gel that repairs and connects electronic circuits, creating opportunities to advance the development of flexible electronics, biosensors and batteries as energy storage devices.

Canada’s clean electricity exports to triple under U.S. Clean Power Plan

Originally published in the Toronto Star tablet edition, Star Touch. By Tyler Hamilton As Canada’s petroleum sector struggles with the reality that sub-$30 (U.S.) oil could be here for some time, the country’s power sector is prepping for a dramatic increase in U.S. demand for clean electricity. Call it a shift from pipelines to power lines. Action on climate change is the reason — more specifically, U.S. President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to slash carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by a third by 2030. The plan is expected to triple the flow of Canadian electricity into Midwestern and northeastern border states, part of a broader U.S. effort to comply with the international climate obligations that 196 countries agreed to …

Switchable material could enable new memory chips

Small voltage can flip thin film between two crystal states — one metallic, one semiconducting — new research indicates. The research involves a thin-film material called a strontium cobaltite, or SrCoOx.

Quantum physics meets genetic engineering

A team of researchers has used engineered viruses to provide quantum-based enhancement of energy transport. The work points the way toward inexpensive and efficient solar cells or light-driven catalysis.

Digestible batteries needed to power electronic pills

Imagine a ‘smart pill’ that can sense problems in your intestines and actively release the appropriate drugs. We have the biological understanding to create such a device, but we’re still searching for electronic materials (like batteries and circuits) that pose no risk if they get stuck in our bodies. Now researchers present a vision for creating safe, consumable electronics, such as those powered by the charged ions within our digestive tracts.

‘Yolks’ and ‘shells’ improve rechargeable batteries

One big problem faced by electrodes in rechargeable batteries, as they go through repeated cycles of charging and discharging, is that they must expand and shrink during each cycle — sometimes doubling in volume, and then shrinking back. This can lead to repeated shedding and reformation of its “skin” layer that consumes lithium irreversibly, degrading the battery’s performance over time. Now researchers have found a novel way around that problem: creating an electrode made of nanoparticles with a solid shell, and a “yolk” inside that can change size again and again without affecting the shell.

Superflare: Sun could release flares 1000x greater than previously recorded

The Sun demonstrates the potential to superflare, new research into stellar flaring suggests. New research has found a stellar superflare on a star observed by NASA’s Kepler space telescope with wave patterns similar to those that have been observed in solar flares. Superflares are thousands of times more powerful than those ever recorded on the Sun, and are frequently observed on some stars.