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March 23, 2018

Laser fusion, with a difference

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March 23, 2018

Japan’s nuclear renaissance dogged by waste challenge

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March 23, 2018

Fill up your gas tank with bamboo?

2014 was a banner year for making automotive fuel from nonfood crops, with a series of major new production plants opening in the United States. However, producing this so-called cellulosic ethanol remains considerably more expensive than gasoline. So researchers are always on the lookout for new ways to trim costs. Now they have a new lead, a microbe that can use abundant nitrogen gas as the fertilizer it needs to produce ethanol from plants.

The discovery is “a major commercial accomplishment for biofuel production,” says Steven Ricke, a microbiologist and editor of a textbook on biofuel production at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, who was not involved in the [...]

 
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March 23, 2018

Solar cells—now in a rainbow of colors

Sure, solar panels are good for the environment, but they’re so … boring. Now scientists have found a way to spice things up. In a study published online this month in Nano Letters, researchers describe making solar cells in several colors (pictured) that still perform efficiently. The scientists layered silicon dioxide, a common material to make glass optical fibers, and titanium dioxide, widely used to absorb harmful ultraviolet rays in sunscreens, alternately to create a structure called photonic crystal that can interact with light. Then they placed a layer of perovskite, the light-harvesting material, on top of the photonic crystal. The colors appear as a result of a [...]

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