Archive for January 4th, 2010

Paper Batteries

New Batteries Made From Paper, Nanotube Ink.

In a story on the New York Times (12/9, Mandel) website Greenwire reports, “Ordinary office paper coated with an inky layer of carbon nanotubes or nanowires can make a lightweight, flexible and highly conductive battery or superconductor, according to Stanford University researchers.” The researchers “had previously experimented with making batteries using a similar process of painting nanomaterial ink onto a thin layer of plastic,” but discovered “that pores in paper fibers make it hold the ink better than plastic, for a more durable battery.” According to the scientists, “the conductive paper could be used in lithium-ion batteries in place of metallic components, where its light weight and scalability would provide an advantage over technologies now in use.”

        BBC News (12/9) reports, “A team of researchers at Stanford University started with off-the-shelf copier paper” that is painted “with an ‘ink’ made of carbon nanotubes,” and “is then dipped in lithium-containing solutions and an electrolyte to provide the chemical reaction that generates a battery’s electric current.” This method “could reduce the weight of batteries… by 20%,” according to the researchers. In addition to being “capable of releasing their stored energy quickly,” a Stanford researcher “said the most important aspect of the demonstration was that paper is an inexpensive and well-understood material – making wider usage of the technology more likely.”

        Clay Dillow writes in Popular Science (12/8) that the technology “could bring paper right back around to its former place of prominence, using it to power the very digital devices — smartphones, Kindles, laptops, etc. — that are increasingly replacing print.” Dillow adds that “the paper battery technology is basically market-ready. That’s not to say that researchers won’t need some time to iron out the kinks, but power sources based on this technology could be commercialized very soon compared to a lot of the nano-noise circulating in scientific circles.” The article also includes a video clip of Stanford’s Yi Cui explaining the device. Technology Review (12/9, Bourzac) also reports the story.

Reposted from ASEE First Bell for 12/8/09

World’s Tiniest Transistor

New Transistor Passes Current Through Single Atom.

Popular Science (12/8, Hsu) reports, “Researchers have demonstrated the world’s tiniest transistor, which passes electric current through a single phosphorus atom,” and according to the article “provides not just an extreme example of transistor limits, but also points toward the development of qubits.” Researchers from Finland and Australia experimented “with the single phosphorus atom as an electron donor. The spin degree of freedom in an electron of the phosphorus could form the qubit ‘switch’ that someday allows researchers to control quantum processes.” One of the scientists explained, “In fact, our purpose was not to build the tiniest transistor for a classical computer, but a quantum bit which would be the heart of a quantum computer that is being developed worldwide.”

Reposted from ASEE First Bell for 12/8/09

3D Tools for Education, Training and Collaboration

Reposted from Jane’s E-Learning Pick of the Day for 12/4/09:

Here is my pick of 12 3D tools for education, traniing and collaboration that I’ll be presenting to the 3D EU Online Educa conference session today.  These tools are suitable for those who want to start simply and have fun, as well as those interested in creating high-end simulated learning environments.  A mix of free, open source and commercial tools.  I would be interested to hear feedback from those who are using any of these tools.

The slideset, speaker notes and links to tools and resources are available HERE.


Pick a Color… Any Color

Researchers Developing Cheaper Color-Changing Windows.

Noting that “windows that change color in response to changes in the weather can help save on electricity costs by absorbing sunlight in the winter and reflecting it in the summer,” but “they are expensive and not widely used,” Technology Review (12/4, Bourzac) reports, “Now researchers are developing cheap printing methods for making these electrochromic systems, and hope to make electrochromic films that can be cut to fit existing windows.” The article explains that “electrochromic windows sandwich materials that change color when a small electrical field is applied across them. This change is triggered by changes in light or temperature measured by sensors.” One of the researchers said that “spraying the films is not only a cheaper alternative,” but “it also provides some advantages in performance.” They “found that adding a small amount of lithium to the nickel-oxide ink solution before it’s printed made for a film that changes color much faster and within a wider range.”

Reposted from ASEE First Bell for 12/4/09

More Power To You

Researchers Developing Improved Lithium-Ion Battery Through Use Of Silicon Gel.

Engineering News (12/4, Smrcka) reports, “Researchers at the Institute for Chemistry and Technology of Materials have developed a new method that uses silicon for lithium-ion batteries. The storage capacity is ten times higher than the graphite substrate that has been used until now, and promises considerable improvements for users.” To make it, “researchers use a silicon-containing gel and apply it to the graphite substrate material.” And “as silicon has a lithium-ion storage capacity some ten times higher than the hitherto commercially used graphite, the new material can store more than double the quantity of lithium ions without changes to the battery’s life.”

Reposted from ASEE First Bell for 12/4/09

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