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:
Engineers have developed “invisible wires,” which they say can improve solar cell efficiency. They have discovered a way to make the electrical wiring on top of solar cells nearly invisible to incoming light. How it works: a solar cell essentially functions like a semiconductor by transforming sunlight into electricity — but the shiny metal on top of the solar cell bounces sunlight away from the semiconductor where electricity is produced, making the cell less efficient. However, this new design hides the wires using silicon nanopillars.
There’s a new kind of graphene microphone that’s about 32 times more sensitive than microphones made of a standard nickel base. A vibrating membrane (the part of a condenser microphone which converts the sound to a current) has been constructed from graphene, which shows up to 15 dB higher sensitivity compared to a commercial microphone at frequencies up to 11 kHz. The graphene membrane is about 60 layers thick, and it was grown on a nickel foil using chemical vapor deposition to ensure consistent quality across all the samples.
Finally, work continues on the James Webb Space Telexcope, inside of the Class 10,000 cleanroom at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The agency has successfully installed the first of 18 flight mirrors onto the JWST, using a robot arm to maneuver the 88 lb. hexagonal-shaped segment. After it’s all fitted together, the 18 primary mirror segments will work together as one large 21.3-ft. mirror. The full installation is expected to be complete early next year.