Frontiers in Energy Research: July 2012

July 2012

Bringing Science to the Public in Three Easy Steps

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If teaching catalysis to freshman undergraduates is a challenge, imagine explaining the intricacies of energy transfer and efficiency to 5th graders who have never taken a chemistry class! Going above and beyond the call of research, exemplary Energy Frontier Research Centers, or EFRCs, are doing just that.

An Interview with Irene Beyerlein

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Choosing a career can be a daunting task for a student in college about to graduate, but not for this newsletter's featured research scientist: Irene Beyerlein. Beyerlein, co-director of the Center for Materials at Irradiation and Mechanical Extremes, likes to say she is up to the challenge for just about anything.

Research Highlights

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    Gold Shines in New Solar Cell Design

    Researchers at the Center for Energy Nanoscience, have demonstrated dramatically increased efficiency in thin solar cells by using small gold particles to concentrate light into the cell.
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    Soaking Up the Sunshine

    Biohybrid light-capturing antennas capable of harvesting solar energy from a wider range of the solar spectrum than the antennas used by photosynthesizing organisms have been constructed by a group of researchers from the Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center or PARC.
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    Turning Up the Signal

    Minute amounts of an elusive chemical poison and other molecules were detected on the electrode surface of solid oxide fuel cells by a collaborative team of researchers at the HeteroFoaM Center using a technique called surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, or SERS.
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    Thin Oxides, Thick Prospects

    By re-conceiving synthesis strategies, researchers at the Energy Materials Center at Cornell have demonstrated a novel and easily scalable synthesis route that produces very long sodium cobalt oxide nanosheets.
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    Redefining Benchmarks for Carbon Dioxide Conversion to Fuel

    A new molecular catalyst orchestrates a chemical reduction process where, by definition, electrons react with carbon dioxide to form formate, which can serve as a fuel or a precursor to fuels such as methanol.
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    Extending the Biomass Assembly Line

    Researchers at the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation have developed a crucial step that enables conversion of inedible biomass, such as grass or corn stalks, to polyester PET, the ubiquitous plastic with triangular recycling code "#1," used in everything from clothing to soda bottles.
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    Nanometers and Nanoseconds, Together at Last

    A team from the Center for Interface Science: Solar Electric Materials recently published a technique in Nano Letters for measuring events as fast as 100 nanoseconds on areas as small as 80 nanometers. This technique is based on atomic force microscopy, a popular method for taking images of surfaces with resolution of billionths of a meter.
Disclaimer: The opinions in this newsletter are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views or position of the Department of Energy.