Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, with colleagues at Stanford have developed a general approach for the production of inexpensive, efficient and durable catalysts for PEM fuel cells: 1D porous nitrogen-doped graphitic carbon fibers embedded with active oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) catalyst components (M/MOx, i.e., metal or metal oxide... Read more →


MIT researchers have discovered a way to increase the efficiency of thermoelectric materials threefold by using “topological” materials, which have unique electronic properties. While past work has suggested that topological materials may serve as efficient thermoelectric systems, there has been little understanding as to how electrons in such topological materials... Read more →


A low-cost, nanostructured composite material developed by researchers at UC Santa Cruz has shown performance comparable to Pt/C as a catalyst for the electrochemical splitting of water to produce hydrogen. An efficient, low-cost catalyst is essential for realizing the promise of hydrogen as a clean, environmentally friendly fuel. Researchers led... Read more →


Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, with colleagues at Purdue and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), have plated a one nanometer thick coating of platinum on a core of cobalt to create a cost-effective and highly efficient fuel cell catalyst. A paper on their work was published last year in the... Read more →


Rice researchers show how to optimize nanomaterials as replacements for platinum in fuel-cell cathodes

Nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes or modified graphene nanoribbons may be suitable replacements for platinum for fast oxygen reduction, the key reaction in fuel cells that transform chemical energy into electricity, according to Rice University researchers. The findings are from computer simulations by Rice scientists who set out to see how carbon... Read more →


A team led by researchers from Sandia National Laboratories and the University of California, Merced has developed an efficient molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) catalyst for driving the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). In a study published in the journal Advanced Materials, the team reports that metastable and temperature-sensitive chemically exfoliated MoS2 (ce-MoS2)... Read more →


A team led by researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory has developed a new way to produce solar fuels by using completely synthetic bionano machinery to harvest light without the need for a living cell. The researchers’ device, reported in the journal ACS Nano as a... Read more →


New hybrid photocatalyst for highly efficient hydrogen production from water

Researchers at the University of Central Florida, with colleagues at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Tsinghua University, developed a new hybrid nanomaterial—a nonmetal plasmonic MoS2@TiO2 heterostructure—for highly efficient photocatalytic H2 generation from water. As reported in an open access paper in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, the... Read more →


Researchers at Rice University and their colleagues at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have learned to manipulate two-dimensional materials to design in defects that enhance the materials’ properties. Combining theory and experimentation, they showed it’s possible to give 2D materials specific defects—especially atomic-scale seams called grain boundaries. These boundaries may... Read more →


A group of Aalto University (Finland) researchers led by professors Tanja Kallio and Kari Laasonen has developed a manufacturing method for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) electrocatalysts that use only one-hundredth of the amount of platinum generally used in commercial products. They achieved pseudo atomic-scale dispersion of Pt—i.e. individual atoms or... Read more →


Georgia Tech team develops simple, low-cost process for oxide nanowires; superior separators for Li-ion batteries

Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed a simple technique for producing oxide nanowires directly from bulk materials under ambient conditions without the use of catalysts or any external stimuli. The process could significantly lower the cost of producing the one-dimensional (1D) nanostructures, enabling a broad range of uses in lightweight... Read more →


Scientists at Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have discovered a one-pot synthesis process using diamondoids—the smallest possible bits of diamond—to assemble atoms into hybrid metal–organic chalcogenide nanowires with solid inorganic cores having three-atom cross-sections, representing the smallest possible nanowires. By grabbing various types of... Read more →


An international team led by researchers at UCLA and Caltech has demonstrated that altering the form of platinum nanoscale wires from a smooth surface to a jagged one can significantly reduce the amount of precious metal required as a catalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in fuel cells and... Read more →


A team from MIT and Saab AB has found a way to bond composite layers in such a way that the resulting material is substantially stronger and more resistant to damage than other advanced composites. Their results are published this week in the journal Composites Science and Technology. The team... Read more →


Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have shown that 0.8-nm-diameter carbon nanotube porins, which promote the formation of one-dimensional water wires, can support proton transport rates exceeding those of bulk water by an order of magnitude. The transport rates in these nanotube pores also exceed those of biological channels and... Read more →


NREL reveals thermoelectric potential for tailored semiconducting carbon nanotubes

A finely tuned carbon nanotube thin film has the potential to act as a thermoelectric power generator that captures and uses waste heat, according to researchers at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The research could help guide the manufacture of thermoelectric devices based on either single-walled carbon... Read more →


An improved titanium alloy—stronger than any commercial titanium alloy currently on the market—gets its strength from the novel way atoms are arranged to form a special nanostructure. For the first time, a team led by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have been able to see this alignment and... Read more →


Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with a colleague from Drexel University, have combined advanced in-situ microscopy and theoretical calculations to uncover important clues to the elastic properties of an MXene material—a promising next-generation energy storage material for supercapacitors and batteries—(earlier post), specifically a 2D titanium carbide (Ti3C2Tx). MXene material—which... Read more →


Researchers in S. Korea have developed a simple synthetic method for producing carbon-based hybrid cellular nanosheets that exhibit strong electrochemical performance for many key aspects of high-performance lithium-ion battery anodes. The nanosheets consist of close-packed cubic cavity cells partitioned by carbon walls, resembling plant leaf tissue. Loading the carbon cellular... Read more →


Researchers at Rice have demonstrated an efficient new way to use solar energy for water splitting. The technology, described in a paper in the ACS journal Nano Letters, relies on a novel plasmonic photoelectrode architecture of light-activated gold nanoparticles that harvest sunlight to drive photocatalytic reactions by efficient, non-radiative plasmon... Read more →


Argonne scientists have used the Mira supercomputer to identify and to improve a new mechanism for eliminating friction, which fed into the development of a hybrid material that exhibited superlubricity—a state in which friction essentially disappears—at the macroscale—i.e., at engineering scale—for the first time. A paper on their work was... Read more →


One of the main modern antiwear lubricant additives is zinc dialkyldithiophosphate (ZDDP)—widely used in automotive lubricants—which forms crucial antiwear tribofilms at sliding interfaces. However, despite its importance in prolonging machinery life and reducing energy use, the mechanisms governing its tribofilm growth are not well-understood. This limits the development of replacements... Read more →


Lintec of America has licensed novel fabrication methods for carbon nanotube (CNT) macrostructures, including sheets, yarns and ribbons, developed at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) by Dr. Ray Baughman, the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Chemistry, and his colleagues at the University’s Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute,... Read more →


Rice, Minnesota scientists use predictive modeling to identify optimized zeolites to aid ethanol, petroleum production

Scientists at Rice University and the University of Minnesota have identified, through a large-scale, multi-step computational screening process, promising zeolite structures for two energy-related applications: the purification of ​ethanol from fermentation broths and the hydroisomerization of alkanes with 18–30 carbon atoms encountered in petroleum refining. The results, presented in a... Read more →


The mesh with BiVO4 nanowire photoanode for water oxidation and Rh-SrTiO3 nanowire photocathode for water reduction produces hydrogen gas without an electron mediator. Credit: ACS, Liu et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers from UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore have developed a new technology for... Read more →


Researchers from the University of Maryland have used molecular dynamics simulation to demonstrate graphene nano-cages which will open and close in response to an electric charge using a technique they call hydrogenation-assisted graphene origami (HAGO). The cages can stably store hydrogen molecules at a density of 9.7 wt % hydrogen—significantly... Read more →


PowerDriver simulations predict thermoelectric exhaust waste heat recovery output of 300W, -2.5% in fuel consumption; prototyping begins

The European Union-funded PowerDriver project—a two-year, €3-million (US$4-million) research project initiated in February 2012 to turn exhaust gas waste heat into electricity using thermoelectric generator (TGEN) technology—has completed simulation work on on a potential automotive application. Results suggest TGEN output of 300W and equivalent fuel saving over the NEDC drive... Read more →


ORNL finding on surface properties of complex oxides films could lead to better batteries and catalysts

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), with colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Fudan University, have discovered that key surface properties of complex oxide films are unaffected by reduced levels of oxygen during fabrication—an unanticipated finding with possible implications for the design of functional complex oxides. The... Read more →


Hydrogen bubbles as they appear in a photoelectrochemical cell. © LPI / EPFL. Click to enlarge. Researchers from EPFL in Switzerland and Technion-Israel Institue of Technology have developed nanoparticle-based α-Fe2O3 (hematite) electrodes that achieve the highest photocurrent of any metal oxide photoanode for photoelectrochemical water-splitting under 100 mW cm−2 air mass, 1.5... Read more →


Nickel phosphide nanoparticle shown to be efficient non-noble metal electrocatalyst for hydrogen production

In the electrochemical reduction of water to molecular hydrogen, the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is facilitated by noble metal catalysts such as platinum (Pt), which generate large cathodic current densities for this reaction at low overpotentials. A research team led by Raymond Schaak, a professor of chemistry at Penn State... Read more →


The new MOF contains triangular channels running through the material. The walls of these channels trap the lower-octane components while allowing the higher-octane molecules to pass through, potentially providing a more efficient and cost effective way to refine high-octane gasoline. Credit: Science/AAAS. Click to enlarge. An international team of researchers... Read more →


MIT scientists demonstrated two approaches for growing CNTs on carbon fiber without degrading the fiber strength. Credit: ACS, Steiner et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers at MIT have demonstrated two approaches for producing carbon fibers coated in carbon nanotubes without degrading the underlying fiber’s strength. A paper on the work,... Read more →


Schematic showing CO2 laser pyrolysis synthesis of silicon nanoparticles transferred to a custom stainless steel prototype cartridge used to generate hydrogen for fuel cell applications. Credit: ACS, Erogbogbo et al. Click to enlarge. A team of researchers from the University at Buffalo (SUNY) have demonstrated that hydrogen generation from ultra-small... Read more →


A visualization of the broad-spectrum solar energy funnel. Image: Yan Liang. Click to enlarge. Researchers from Peking University in China and MIT are proposing using elastic strain as a viable agent to create an optoelectronic material with a spatially varying bandgap that is tunable for use in photovoltaics, photocatalysis and... Read more →


IACT team using ALD to build nanobowls for tailored catalysts for biofuel production

A team of scientists from the Institute for Atom Efficient Chemical Transformations (IACT)—an Energy Frontier Research Center (earlier post) led by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), and including Northwestern University, the University of Wisconsin and Purdue University—is using atomic layer deposition (ALD) to build nanoscale “bowls” that protect metal catalysts from... Read more →


Plot of current performance data in the lab for Si/graphene anodes. Source: XG Sciences. Click to enlarge. As part of the FY 2012 Phase I Release 3 SBIR/STTR Award program, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Michigan-based XG Sciences, a manufacturer of graphene nanoplatelets (earlier post), a contract... Read more →


The research team used a unique process to encourage growth of ultra-thin zeolite nanosheets at 90-degree angles, similar to building a house of cards. Credit: U of Minn. Click to enlarge. An international team led by University of Minnesota chemical engineering and materials science professor Michael Tsapatsis reports in the... Read more →


This drawing shows the damaged outer wall of a carbon nanotube with nanosized graphene pieces (white patches), which facilitate the formation of catalytic sites made of iron (yellow) and nitrogen (red) atoms. The catalyst reduces oxygen to water. Click to enlarge. A team of researchers has demonstrated the ability of... Read more →


MIT researchers engineer stable copper-gold nanoparticle catalysts for lower energy consumption CO2 reduction

Copper nanoparticles (NPs) are attractive catalysts for chemical reactions including the reduction of CO2 to methane or methanol. However, copper is easily oxidized; as a result, the metal is unstable, which can significantly slow its reaction with carbon dioxide and produce unwanted byproducts such as carbon monoxide and formic acid.... Read more →


Visualization of platinum coating in fuel cells. The red areas show high ion transfer activity, the turquoise-green elevations represent the nanoparticles. The picture shows that ion transfer is not uniform all over the coating. Picture: Sergei Kalinin Click to enlarge. A new microscopy technique devised by an international research team... Read more →


Researchers from NEST Istituto Nanoscienze CNR and the Scuola Normale Superiore in Italy are proposing a multilayer graphene-based device in which storage and release of hydrogen are obtained by exploiting and controlling the corrugation of individual layers of graphene. In a paper published in the ACS Journal of Physical Chemistry... Read more →


Relaxed surface structures of the MWW and MFI nanosheets. Si, O, and H atoms are colored in yellow, red, and white, respectively. (A and B) MWW nanosheet viewed along the a (or b) axis (A) and along the c axis (B). (C and D) MFI nanosheet viewed along the c... Read more →


Ragone plots for the pristine graphene, N-doped graphene, B-doped graphene, graphene oxide (GO), and GO500 based cells with lithium metal as the counter/reference electrode. The calculation of gravimetric energy and power density was based on the active material mass of a single electrode. Credit: ACS, Wu et al. Click to... Read more →


Left: Rate capability of MoS2/G samples at different current densities:(1) MoS2/G (1:1); (2) MoS2/G (1:2); (3) MoS2/G (1:4). Right: cartoon of the composite. Credit: ACS, Chang and Chen. Click to enlarge. A pair of researchers from Zhejiang University (China) have synthesized layered MoS2/graphene (MoS2/G) composites using a facile biomolecular-assisted process... Read more →


(A) Schematic showing the microwave exfoliation/reduction of GO and the chemical activation of MEGO (a-MEGO) that creates pores while retaining high electrical conductivity. (B–E) Images of a-MEGO. E shows presence of a dense network of nanometer-scale pores surrounded by highly curved, predominantly single layer carbon. Credit: Zhu et al. Click... Read more →


A scheme of an M13 virus and its cloning vector for genetic engineering. Click to enlarge. Researchers at MIT led by Drs. Angela Belcher and Paula Hammond have synthesized single-walled carbon nanotube–TiO2 nanocrystal core–shell nanocomposites using a genetically engineered M13 virus as a template. Using the nanocomposites as photoanodes in... Read more →


The tandem catalyst. (Image courtesy of Yang group) Click to enlarge. Researchers with the US Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have created bi-layered nanocrystals of metal-metal oxide that are the first to feature multiple catalytic sites on nanocrystal interfaces. A paper describing the research is... Read more →


a) SEM cross section image of Nanospring coated cordierite b) SEM image of the Nanospring-coated cordierite wall. Click to enlarge. The National Science Foundation recently awarded a $149,000 Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase 1 grant to GoNano Technologies, Inc., a materials company specializing in the development of high surface... Read more →


The power performance of the SWNH/SWNT composite electrode surpasses other nanocarbon electrodes. Credit: ACS, Click to enlarge. Researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) have developed a novel high-power composite material for supercapacitor electrodes. The material, featuring a... Read more →


(a) Schematic diagram of the bacteria-templated synthesis of the oxide nanostructures. Typical FESEM images of (b) the pure bacteria, (c) the bacteria/cobalt oxide rods, and (d) the hollow cobalt oxide rods. The insets depict the cross section of each sample. Credit: ACS, Shim et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers at... Read more →