Harnessing the sun’s energy during day for use at night

Solar energy has long been used as a clean alternative to fossil fuels such as coal and oil, but it could only be harnessed during the day when the sun’s rays were strongest. Now researchers led by Tom Meyer at the Energy Frontier Research Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have built a system that converts the sun’s energy not into electricity but hydrogen fuel and stores it for later use, allowing us to power our devices long after the sun goes down.

Report: Younger people have “high definition” memories

It’s not that younger people are able to remember more than older people. Their memories seem better because they are able to retrieve them in higher definition.

Weighing particles at the attogram scale

MIT engineers have devised a way to measure the mass of particles with a resolution better than an attogram — one millionth of a trillionth of a gram. Weighing these tiny particles, including both synthetic nanoparticles and biological components of cells, could help researchers better understand their composition and function.

New hybrid molecules could lead to materials that function at the nanoscale

Synthetic chemists today have the ability to construct molecules of almost any atomic composition, creating new materials with any number of promising applications that range from sustainable energy and environmental remediation, to high-performance electronics.

High levels of molecular chlorine found in arctic atmosphere

Scientists studying the atmosphere above Barrow, Alaska, have discovered unprecedented levels of molecular chlorine in the air, a new study reports.

'Superlens' extends range of wireless power transfer

Inventor Nikola Tesla imagined the technology to transmit energy through thin air almost a century ago, but experimental attempts at the feat have so far resulted in cumbersome devices that only work over very small distances. But now, Duke University researchers have demonstrated the feasibility of wireless power transfer using low-frequency magnetic fields over distances much larger than the size of the transmitter and receiver.

The cyborg era has started

They are known from science fiction novels and films – technically modified organisms with extraordinary skills, so-called cyborgs. This name originates from the English term “cybernetic organism”.

Eye-catching electronics

Researchers at ETH are developing electronic components that are thinner and more flexible than before. They can even be wrapped around a single hair without damaging the electronics. This opens up new possibilities for ultra-thin, transparent sensors that are literally easy on the eye.

Making silicon devices responsive to infrared light

Researchers have tried a variety of methods to develop detectors that are responsive to a broad range of infrared light — which could form imaging arrays for security systems, or solar cells that harness a broader range of sunlight’s energy — but these methods have all faced limitations. Now, a new system developed by researchers at five institutions, including MIT, could eliminate many of those limitations.

Report: Microalgae and aquatic plants can help to decrease radiopollution in the Fukushima area

After a huge earthquake caused severe damage to the Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, Japanese plant scientists have been working to determine the impact of radioactive contamination on wild and cultivated plants. In a special issue of Springer’s Journal of Plant Research, these experts examine the potential adverse effects of radioactivity on nature and society.

Battery development may extend range of electric cars

It's known that electric vehicles could travel longer distances before needing to charge and more renewable energy could be saved for a rainy day if lithium-sulfur batteries can just overcome a few technical hurdles.

Engineers make world's fastest organic transistor, herald new generation of see-through electronics

Two university research teams have worked together to produce the world's fastest thin-film organic transistors, proving that this experimental technology has the potential to achieve the performance needed for high-resolution television screens and similar electronic devices.

Organic mega flow battery promises breakthrough for renewable energy

team of Harvard scientists and engineers has demonstrated a new type of battery that could fundamentally transform the way electricity is stored on the grid, making power from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar far more economical and reliable.

New route to design a practical invisibility cloak

With the emergence of metamaterials and transformation optics in the past few years, invisibility has become a scientific possibility that has attracted sustainable research interest.

New holographic process uses image-stabilized X-ray camera

A team headed by Stefan Eisebitt has developed a new X-ray holography method that will enable snap-shots of dynamic processes at highest spatial resolution. The efficiency of the new method is based on a X-ray focussing optics being firmly fixed to the object to be imaged.

New, simple technique may drive down biofuel production costs

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a simple, effective and relatively inexpensive technique for removing lignin from the plant material used to make biofuels, which may drive down the cost of biofuel production.

Self-driving vehicles offer potential benefits, policy challenges for lawmakers

Self-driving vehicles offer the promise of significant benefits to society, but raise several policy challenges, including the need to update insurance liability regulations and privacy concerns such as who will control the data generated by this technology, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

To curb haze and air pollution, use water?!

A new idea to cut back on air pollution: spray water into the atmosphere from sprinklers atop tall buildings and towers, similar to watering a garden. This suggestion comes from Shaocai Yu of Zhejiang University in China, and North Carolina State University in the US.

Supercomputers join search for 'cheapium'

In the search for cheaper materials that mimic their purer, more expensive counterparts, researchers are abandoning hunches and intuition for theoretical models and pure computing power.

A simple, cheap way to increase solar cell efficiency

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found an easy way to modify the molecular structure of a polymer commonly used in solar cells. Their modification can increase solar cell efficiency by more than 30 percent.