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.

Shining more light on solar panels

A better understanding of how light reflects off different surfaces has improved action movies, videogames and now solar panels. Researchers have found a way to get more sun to shine on the panels and crank up the output by 30 percent or more.

X-rays reveal details of plastic solar cell production

Plastic solar cells are light, easy to install, and readily produced using a printer. Nevertheless, the processes that take place on the molecular scale during the production of organic solar cells are not yet entirely clear. Researchers have now managed to observe these processes in real time. Their findings could help to improve the efficiency of organic solar cells.

Fuel cell advance

Researchers report a breakthrough that promises to bring down the cost of hydrogen fuel cells by replacing expensive platinum catalysts with cheaper ones made from metals like nickel.

Super environmentally friendly: the ‘fool’s gold battery’

High-performance lithium ion batteries face a major problem: Lithium will eventually start to run out as batteries are deployed in electric cars and stationary storage units. Researchers have now discovered an alternative: the “fool’s gold battery”. It consists of iron, sulfur, sodium and magnesium – all elements that are in plentiful supply. This means that giant storage batteries could be built on the cheap and used stationary in buildings or next to power plants, for instance.

Wind turbines: Generating eco-friendly power with metal rotor blades

Wind turbines deliver environmentally friendly electricity. Yet the fiber-reinforced plastics often used in very large rotor blades are almost impossible to recycle. Not so with steel blades: since these are composed of steel, their recyclability exceeds 90 percent. Plus they cost significantly less than comparable plastic blades.

Study seeks nature’s best biocatalysts for biofuel production

Researchers are looking beyond the usual suspects in the search for microbes that can efficiently break down inedible plant matter for conversion to biofuels. A new comparative study finds the natural abilities of unconventional bacteria could help boost the efficiency of cellulosic biofuel production.