A specialized type of hydrogen fuel cell requires precise temperature and moisture controls to be at its best. But seeing inside a working fuel cell at the tiny scales relevant to a fuel cell’s chemistry and physics is challenging, so scientists used x-ray-based imaging techniques to study their inner workings. ... Read more »
Rechargeable batteries based on magnesium, rather than lithium, have the potential to pack more energy into smaller batteries. However, researchers have discovered a surprising set of chemical reactions involving magnesium that degrade battery performance even before the battery can be charged up. ... Read more »
A powdery mix of metal nanocrystals wrapped in single-layer sheets of carbon atoms shows promise for safely storing hydrogen for use with fuel cells for passenger vehicles and other uses. Now, a new study provides insight into the atomic details of the crystals’ ultrathin coating and how it serves as selective shielding while enhancing their performance in hydrogen storage. ... Read more »
Lead halide perovskites have emerged as high-performance photovoltaic materials, demonstrating remarkably rapid improvements in efficiency. In situ printing and time-resolved x-ray characterization have provided new insights into the relationship between device efficiency, perovskite crystallinity, and film morphology. ... Read more »
Scientists are seeking ways to reduce levels of CO2 in the atmosphere by improving the processes that convert CO2 gas into ethanol (a liquid fuel). But copper, the best catalyst for this, is not very efficient. Now, ambient-pressure x-ray experiments have revealed how subsurface oxygen boosts copper’s catalytic activity.
... Read more »
Researchers have structurally and chemically “visualized” the surface of a silver–gold alloy as it reorganizes itself during catalytic activation. The insights gained from this methodology can lead to improved catalysts for energy-intensive industrial applications, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing waste.
... Read more »
Lithium-sulfur batteries have great potential as a low-cost, high-energy, energy source for both vehicle and grid applications. However, they suffer from significant capacity fading. Now, scientists have found that carrageenan, a seaweed derivative, acts as a stabilizer, allowing for more cycling and an extended lifetime. ... Read more »
X-ray experiments, coupled with theoretical work, revealed how oxygen atoms embedded near the surface of a copper sample had a more dramatic effect on the early stages of a reaction with CO2 than accounted for in earlier theories. This work could prove useful in designing new catalysts for converting CO2 into liquid fuels and other products. ... Read more »
Ambient-pressure studies of the interface between a platinum electrode and an alkaline electrolyte revealed the molecular-level chemistry, structure, and dynamics of the platinum surface as a function of applied potential, highlighting differences between thermodynamic predictions and the actual surface composition. ... Read more »
Scientists have sequenced the genome of a green alga that has drawn commercial interest as a strong producer of quality lipids for biofuel production. The chromosome-assembly genome of Chromochloris zofingiensis provides a blueprint for new discoveries in sustainable biofuels, antioxidants, and other valuable bioproducts. ... Read more »