In case you missed it (ICYMI), here are some of the stories that made headlines in the world of cleanrooms and nanotechnology in the past week.
Graphene is frequently used in flexible displays — one example is as an alternative to the relatively scarce indium tin oxide (ITO), a transparent conductor that controls display pixels. Graphene can also be used in a display’s pixel electronics (aka the backplane), where a solution-processed graphene is used as an electrode. Now, Turkish researchers have discovered that a regular sheet of paper sandwiched between two films of multilayer graphene can serve as a basic flexible electronic display. One researcher suggests that this system could serve as a framework for turning ordinary printing paper into an optoelectronic display.
Lead-free, more efficient solar cells and other optoelectronics devices will likely be based on a family of materials known as hybrid perovskites. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that researchers have identified how to control different properties and stability in these solar cell materials using lead-free preparation. These new design principles identified super-ion building blocks, clusters of atoms that carry the same charge as the ions that they replace. Scientists can tailor these building blocks improve stability and other desired traits. The materials — based on clusters of atoms called “super-ions” — may revolutionize the entire solar cell industry.
Finally, a new app from MIT can identify how much power is being used by each device in a household. While many groups have worked on developing devices to monitor electricity use, the new MIT system has some key advantages over other approaches. First, it involves no complex installation: No wires need to be disconnected, and the placement of the postage-stamp-sized sensors over the incoming power line does not require any particular precision — the system is designed to be self-calibrating. Second, because it samples data very quickly, the sensors can pick up enough detailed information about spikes and patterns in the voltage and current that the system can, thanks to dedicated software, tell the difference between every different kind of light, motor, and other device in the home and show exactly which ones go on and off, at what times. Perhaps most significantly, the system is designed so that all of the detailed information stays right inside the user’s own home, eliminating concerns about privacy that potential users may have when considering power-monitoring systems.