In the future, climate-neutral hydrogen will play an important role as a fuel and raw material. Hydrogen is produced by electrolysis of water, either using an indirect approach in which an external energy source (solar panel or wind turbine) supplies the electrolysis cell with voltage, or using a direct approach: a photoelectrochemical cell in which the photoelectrode itself supplies the electrical energy for electrolysis (PEC cell). This direct approach would have some advantages, but is not yet competitive.
Electronics & Semiconductors
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Organic electronics can make a decisive contribution to decarbonization and, at the same time, help to cut the consumption of rare and valuable raw materials. To do so, it is not only necessary to further develop manufacturing processes, but also to devise technical solutions for recycling as early on as the laboratory phase. Materials scientists from FAU are now promoting this circular strategy in conjunction with researchers from the U.K. and U.S. in the journal Nature Materials.
A photocapacitor integrating both energy harvest and storage functions into a single component can serve as a wireless charging source for mobile devices. However, current photocapacitors usually contain more electrodes or fabricated counter electrodes acting as additional capacitive components, resulting in increased fabrication costs.
An international research group has engineered a new energy-generating device by combining piezoelectric composites with carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP), a commonly used material that is both light and strong. The new device transforms vibrations from the surrounding environment into electricity, providing an efficient and reliable means for self-powered sensors.
Just as a superb meal requires the right ingredients prepared expertly, the production of better green fuel alternatives requires combining the right materials and methods. Recently, a team of researchers from China and the U.K. have found new ways to optimize the recipe for the production of solar fuels. Their findings have been published in two articles, one in the journal Applied Surface Science, and the other in Optical Materials.
You may not have heard of piezoelectric materials, but odds are, you have benefitted from them.
In the effort to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, one strategy involves harvesting the waste heat that is already being produced by our energy systems. Thermoelectric generators can convert waste heat to clean electricity, and a new design breakthrough may make these devices more efficient than previously possible, according to scientists at Penn State and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
For many years, Thomas Geiger has been conducting research in the field of cellulose fibrils—fine fibers that can be produced from wood pulp or agricultural waste, for example. Cellulose fibrils hold great potential for sustainable production and the decarbonization of industry: they grow CO2-neutral in nature, burn without residues and are even compostable. They can be used for many purposes, for example as fiber reinforcement in technical rubber products such as pump membranes.
Researchers at the Department of Instrumentation and Applied Physics (IAP), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), have designed a novel ultramicro supercapacitor, a tiny device capable of storing an enormous amount of electric charge. It is also much smaller and more compact than existing supercapacitors and can potentially be used in many devices ranging from streetlights to consumer electronics, electric cars and medical devices.
When you think of how to make electronic components, water probably doesn’t top your list of raw materials. Nevertheless, in a study recently published in Journal of Water Chemistry and Technology, researchers from the University of Tsukuba have used volcanic spring water to help make the plastic that’s an essential part of many modern technologies.