Bio-based solar cell

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Researchers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have developed a bio-based solar cell. They embedded the two proteins photosystem 1 and 2, which in plants are responsible of photosynthesis, into complex molecules developed in-house, thus creating an efficient electron current. 

In leaves, the photosystems 1 and 2 utilise light energy very efficiently; this is required for converting carbon dioxide into oxygen and biomass. The Bochum researchers’ bio-based solar cell, on the other hand, generates electricity rather than biomass. Prof Rögner’s team isolated the two photosystems from thermophilic cyanobacteria that live in a hot spring in Japan. Because of their habitat and behaviour, their photosystems are much more stable than comparable proteins of species that do not occur under extreme environmental conditions. Prof Schuhmann’s team developed complex electron-conducting materials, so-called redox hydrogels. The researchers embedded the photosystems into these hydrogels in order to connect them to the electrodes of the photovoltaic cells.

The project was funded by the German Research Foundation as part of the Cluster of Excellence.

See on aktuell.ruhr-uni-bochum.de

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Ultrasound, Nanoparticles May Help Diabetics Avoid the Needle

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A new nanotechnology-based technique for regulating blood sugar in diabetics may give patients the ability to release insulin painlessly using a small ultrasound device, allowing them to go days between injections – rather than using needles to give themselves multiple insulin injections each day. The technique was developed by researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 

“This is hopefully a big step toward giving diabetics a more painless method of maintaining healthy blood sugar levels,” says Dr. Zhen Gu, senior author of a paper on the research and an assistant professor in the joint biomedical engineering program at NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill.

See on news.ncsu.edu

3D Printing Multi-Material Objects Just Got Faster

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3D printing has long had the potential to revolutionize manufacturing, but so far its application in the marketplace has been held back by slow fabrication, especially for heterogeneous objects. Many objects comprise more than one material, which allows for certain parts to be rigid while other parts remain flexible (e.g. tweezers; prosthetics). Dr. Yong Chen and his team have now developed a 3D printing process that fabricates such objects very time- and cost- efficiently.

See on viterbi.usc.edu

Solar-powered battery woven into fabric overcomes hurdle for ‘wearable electronics’

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Though some people already seem inseparable from their smartphones, even more convenient, wearable, solar-powered electronics could be on the way soon, woven into clothing fibers or incorporated into watchbands. This novel battery development, which could usher in a new era of “wearable electronics,” is the topic of a paper in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

 

Taek-Soo Kim, Jung-Yong Lee, Jang Wook Choi and colleagues explain that electronic textiles have the potential to integrate smartphone functions into clothes, eyeglasses, watches and materials worn on the skin.

See on www.acs.org

Novel Material Stores Unusually Large Amounts of Hydrogen

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An international team of researchers has synthesized a new material that stores an unusually large amount of hydrogen. Performing high-pressure X-ray studies at DESY’s PETRA III and other light sources, the scientists detected the formation of previously unobserved iridium hydride from hydrogen and metallic iridium at a pressure of 55 gigapascals (GPa), corresponding to approximately 550,000 times the Earth’s atmospheric pressure. The new material can store up to three times more hydrogen than most other metal hydrides, and its synthesis may contribute to the development of high-capacity hydrogen fuel cells in cars and other applications.

See on www.desy.de

Researchers announce a revolutionary alternative to crude oil fuel made out of two of the most common substances on Earth – water and carbon dioxide

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With oil supplies around the world  fast depleting, researchers around the world have been trying to find an alternative that could sustain the energy needs of mankind. A team at Israel’s Ben Gurion University may have come up with an alternative fuel, made from water and carbon dioxide.

 

Unlike other fuel alternatives available today, the “green feed” created at BGU has a significant advantage: it can be turned into fuel using existing oil refining methods and delivered to gas stations using existing infrastructure. Professor Moti Hershkowitz, who led the research team, predicts that this breakthrough technology should be commercially viable within 10 years.

 

“It is an extraordinary challenge to convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen to green feed,” says Herskowitz, “The technology is based on novel specially tailored catalysts and catalytic processes.” Hershkowitz explains that until the process is fully implemented, it will be possible to use the green fuel mixed with other available forms of green fuel.

 

The process is patent pending, “and we are ready to take off,” demonstrate and commercialize it, asserts Herskowitz. Bench experiments have been conducted and scale-up should be relatively simple, he says. Herskowitz believes that, “As technological breakthroughs, such as carbon dioxide capture from various sources including air and water splitting, become technologically and economically feasible, this process will become the dominant technology for production of liquid fuels.”

See on in.bgu.ac.il