Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of November 25, 2022

01. Discovery reveals ‘brain-like computing’ at molecular level is possible 02. Electrokinetic mining technology for recovering rare earth elements from weathering crusts 03. Engineers solve a mystery on the path to smaller, lighter batteries 04.  ‘SuperGPS’ Technology Accurately Pinpoints Your Position Within Inches 05. Glass-like shells of diatoms help turn light into energy in dim conditions 06. Microlaser chip adds new dimensions to quantum communication 07. An on-chip time-lens generates ultrafast pulses 08. Researchers develop phase-change key for new hardware security 09. Researchers unlock light-matter interactions on sub-nanometer scales, leading to ‘picophotonics’ 10. Unabated Carbon Is Shrinking Earth’s Upper Atmosphere, […]

Discovery reveals ‘brain-like computing’ at molecular level is possible  November 21, 2022 An international team of researchers (Singapore, USA – University of Central Florida, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Ireland) has created a new type of organic material that learns from its past behavior emulating synaptic behavior. The molecule switches from high to low conductance states with massive negative memristive behaviour that depends on the drive speed and number of past switching events. The dynamic molecular switch provides all the fundamental logic gates necessary for deep learning because of its time-domain and voltage-dependent plasticity. The switch represents an adaptable molecular-scale hardware operable in solid-state devices and opens a pathway […]

Electrokinetic mining technology for recovering rare earth elements from weathering crusts  November 17, 2022 Ion-adsorption deposits, which form within weathering crusts, supply more than 95% of the scarce global heavy rare earth elements (HREE) demand. Deposits are currently mined via ammonium-salt-based leaching techniques that are responsible for severe environmental damage and show low recovery efficiency. Researchers in China have designed an innovative rare earth elements (REE) mining technique, electrokinetic mining (EKM), which enabled green, efficient and selective recovery of REEs from weathering crusts. Its feasibility was demonstrated via bench-scale, scaled-up and on-site field experiments. Compared with conventional techniques, EKM achieved ~2.6 times higher recovery efficiency, an ~80% decrease in leaching […]

Engineers solve a mystery on the path to smaller, lighter batteries

MIT News  November 18, 2022 Whether dendrites are driven by mechanical failure or electrochemical degradation of solid electrolytes remains an open question. If internal mechanical forces drive failure, superimposing a compressive load that counters internal stress may mitigate dendrite penetration. A team of researchers in the US (MIT, Brown University) investigated this hypothesis by dynamically applying mechanical loads to growing dendrites in Li6.6La3Zr1.6Ta0.4O12 solid electrolytes. Operando microscopy revealed marked deflection in the dendrite growth trajectory at the onset of compressive loading. Sufficient loading the deflection averted cell failure. They quantified the impact of stack pressure and in-plane stresses on dendrite […]

Glass-like shells of diatoms help turn light into energy in dim conditions

Nanowerk  November 22, 2022 Using a toolkit consisting of numerical models and four microscopy techniques, researchers in Canada evaluated the optical response of frustules belonging to the species Nitzschia filiformis. Localized regions of the frustule exhibited functionalities including diffraction, lensing, waveguiding, circulation, filtering, resonances, and dispersion control. They showed that these functionalities are complementary to each other in contributing to the solar energy harvesting mechanisms of capture, redistribution, and retention. In this context, frustule performance was enhanced by perturbations to its sub-wavelength structure. According to the researchers their finding provides quantitative support to the hypothesis that the frustule enhances photosynthesis […]

Leading the way in superconductor research: New compounds of lanthanum and hydrogen  November 22, 2022 An international team of researchers (Germany, UK, Sweden, USA – University of Chicago) has presented the results of their single-crystal X-ray diffraction studies on lanthanum hydrides which revealed an unexpected chemical and structural diversity of lanthanum hydrides synthesized in the range of 50 to 180 GPa. They produced seven lanthanum hydrides LaH3, LaH~4, LaH4+δ, La4H23, LaH6+δ, LaH9+δ, and LaH10+δ, and determined the atomic coordinates of lanthanum in their structures. The regularities in rare-earth element hydrides the team has shown provide clues to guide the search for other synthesizable hydrides and candidate high-temperature superconductors. The hydrogen content variability […]

Microlaser chip adds new dimensions to quantum communication  November 21, 2022 In quantum communications with qubits, the superposition makes it so a quantum pulse cannot be copied. However, with only two levels of superposition, qubits have limited storage space and low tolerance for interference. An international team of researchers (USA – University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, City University of New York, Spain, Italy) has created a chip that outstrips the security and robustness of existing quantum communications hardware. The device’s four-level qudits enable significant advances in quantum cryptography, raising the maximum secrete key rate for information exchange from 1 bit per pulse to 2 bits per pulse. […]

Monitoring ‘frothy’ magma gases could help evade disaster  November 21, 2022 Researchers in Japan repeatedly measured isotopic compositions of noble gases and CO2 in volcanic gases sampled at six fumaroles around the Kusatsu-Shirane volcano (Japan) between 2014 and 2021 to detect variations reflecting recent volcanic activity. The synchronous increases in 3He/4He at some fumaroles suggested an increase in magmatic gas supply since 2018. The increase in magmatic gas supply was also supported by the temporal variations in 3He/CO2 ratios and carbon isotopic ratios of CO2. The 3He/40Ar* ratios showed significant increases in the period of high 3He/4He ratios. The temporal variation in 3He/40Ar* ratios may reflect changes […]

New insights into energy loss open doors for one up-and-coming solar tech

Science Daily  November 18, 2022 Understanding the factors affecting energy loss in organic photovoltaics (OPVs) is imperative to achieve further improvements in their efficiency and to establish design rules for the development of new materials. By studying several planar and bulk heterojunction solar cells, an international team of researchers (USA – Princeton University, Saudi Arabia) has demonstrated that the non-radiative energy loss component quadratically increases with increasing Gaussian CT-state disorder. They showed that by defining the total energy loss in terms of the peak of the CT-state distribution the effect of disorder on OPV performance can be unambiguously identified, offering […]

An on-chip time-lens generates ultrafast pulses

Science Daily  November 11, 2022 Integrated femtosecond pulse and frequency comb sources are critical components for a wide range of applications, including microwave photonics, communications, lidar, optical computing, and astronomy among other things. A team of researchers in the US (Harvard University, UCLA, Columbia University, industry) has demonstrated a chip-scale femtosecond pulse source implemented on an integrated lithium niobate photonic platform forming a time-lens system. The device was driven by a continuous-wave distributed feedback laser chip and controlled by a single continuous-wave microwave source without the need for any stabilization or locking. They measured femtosecond pulse trains with a 30-gigahertz […]