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Nitrogen fixation in ambient conditions

13-Nov-2018

Abundant in nature (78% of the air we breathe), nitrogen is rarely used in the industrial production of chemicals, with the most important process being the synthesis of ammonia, which is in turn used for the preparation of agricultural fertilizers. Using nitrogen as a raw material ("feedstock") ...

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A computational method for designing a new type of 2D carbons

16-Aug-2018

Zeolites are porous minerals that occur both naturally but also are being synthesized artificially. Because of their stability and durability, they are used in industrial water purification, catalysis, adsorption, and even in blood-clotting powders (e.g. QuickClot used by the US military). A ...

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A step closer to single-atom data storage

13-Jul-2018

Despite the rise of solid-state drives, magnetic storage devices such as conventional hard drives and magnetic tapes are still very common. But as our data-storage needs are increasing at a rate of almost 15 million gigabytes per day, scientists are turning to alternative storage devices. One of ...

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Diamond watch components

19-Jun-2018

SNSF-funded researchers have developed a new technique for carving materials to create micromechanical systems. In particular, they have created a miniscule watch component out of synthetic single-crystal diamond. Diamond is very hard and elastic, a very good thermal conductor and highly ...

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A nanotech sensor that turns molecular fingerprints into bar codes

11-Jun-2018

Infrared spectroscopy is the benchmark method for detecting and analyzing organic compounds. But it requires complicated procedures and large, expensive instruments, making device miniaturization challenging and hindering its use for some industrial and medical applications and for data ...

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Metal-organic frameworks cut energy consumption of petrochemicals

19-Mar-2018

In the chemical and the petrochemical industries, separating molecules in an energy-efficient way is one of the most important challenges. Overall, the separation processes account for around 40% of the energy consumed in the petrochemical industry, and reducing this can help addressing ...

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Removing heavy metals from water

16-Mar-2018

According to the World Health Organization almost 1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water, and that number is expected to increase with climate change. Meanwhile, our endlessly rising energy needs and use of heavy metals in industrial processes have maximized our exposure to ...

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A treasure trove for nanotechnology experts

08-Mar-2018

2D materials, which consist of a few layers of atoms, may well be the future of nanotechnology. They offer potential new applications and could be used in small, higher-performance and more energy-efficient devices. 2D materials were first discovered almost 15 years ago, but only a few dozen of ...

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Guanidinium stabilizes perovskite solar cells at 19 percent efficiency

11-Dec-2017

With the power-conversion efficiency of silicon solar cells plateauing around 25%, perovskites are now ideally placed to become the market's next generation of photovoltaics. In particular, organic-inorganic lead halide perovskites offer manufacturing versatility that can potentially translate ...

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The quantum waltz of electrons hints at the next generation of chips

06-Dec-2017

A group of spintronics researchers at EPFL is using new materials to reveal more of the many capabilities of electrons. The field of spintronics seeks to tap the quantum properties of "spin," the term often used to describe one of the fundamental properties of elementary particles - in this case, ...

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