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Materials Science - Innovation - 23.02.2023
3D printing with bacteria-loaded ink produces bone-like composites
3D printing with bacteria-loaded ink produces bone-like composites
Researchers have published a method for 3D-printing an ink that contains calcium carbonate-producing bacteria. The 3D-printed mineralized bio-composite is unprecedently strong, light, and environmentally friendly, with a range of applications from art to biomedicine. Nature has an extraordinary knack for producing composite materials that are simultaneously light and strong, porous and rigid - like mollusk shells or bone.

Chemistry - Materials Science - 21.02.2023
New corrosion protection that repairs itself
New corrosion protection that repairs itself
Researchers have developed an extraordinary protection against corrosion after a chance discovery. It glows in places where it is not damaged, repairs itself - and can be reused multiple times. Skyscrapers, bridges, ships, aeroplanes, cars - everything humans make or build sooner or later decays. The ravages of time are known as corrosion; nothing is safe from it.

Materials Science - 21.02.2023
Health risk of graphene residues investigated
Health risk of graphene residues investigated
Researchers have studied residues from the incineration of graphene-containing plastics. Conclusion of the study: Burned composite materials containing graphene nanoparticles can be considered harmless in case of acute exposure. Due to its exceptional properties, graphene is now added to a wide range of plastics.

Physics - Materials Science - 13.02.2023
Chromo-encryption method encodes secrets with color
Chromo-encryption method encodes secrets with color
In a new approach to security that unites technology and art, researchers have combined silver nanostructures with polarized light to yield a range of brilliant colors, which can be used to encode messages. Cryptography is something of a new field for Olivier Martin, who has been studying the optics of nanostructures for many years as head of the Nanophotonics and Metrology Lab EPFL's School of Engineering.

Chemistry - Materials Science - 17.01.2023
Improving perovskite solar cell resistance to degradation
Improving perovskite solar cell resistance to degradation
Despite their huge potential, the way perovskite solar cells respond to external stimuli - such as heat or moisture - has a considerable impact on their stability. Researchers at EPFL have identified the cause of degradation and developed a technique to improve stability, bringing us closer to widespread adoption of these cost-effective and efficient solar cells.

Materials Science - Civil Engineering - 20.12.2022
Brittle concrete walls: researchers find the cause
Brittle concrete walls: researchers find the cause
After extensive analyses, researchers found the cause of the concrete scandal in County Donegal, Ireland, where structural damage has been causing red faces and protests for years: Concrete walls of thousands of houses are riddled with cracks, necessitating expensive repairs or even demolition. For the longest time, an excessively high mica content in the concrete was thought to be the reason.

Materials Science - Environment - 14.12.2022
New process boosts efficiency of bifacial CIGS thin film solar cell
New process boosts efficiency of bifacial CIGS thin film solar cell
Bifacial thin film solar cells based on copper indium gallium diselenide or CIGS can collect solar energy from both their front and their rear side - and thus potentially yield more solar electricity than their conventional counterparts. So far, however, their fabrication has led to only modest energy conversion efficiencies.

Materials Science - 12.12.2022
Gold-based passive heating for eyewear
Gold-based passive heating for eyewear
Researchers from ETH Zurich have developed a new transparent gold nanocoating that harnesses sunlight to heat the lenses of glasses, thereby preventing them from fogging in humid conditions. This coating could potentially also be applied to car windshields. Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed an ultrathin, gold-based transparent coating that is able to convert sunlight into heat.

Materials Science - Health - 08.12.2022
Watching viruses fail
Watching viruses fail
Using a new analytical method, researchers have tracked viruses as they pass through face masks and compared their failure on the filter layers of different types of masks. The new method should now accelerate the development of surfaces that can kill viruses, the team writes in the journal Scientific Reports.

Health - Materials Science - 29.11.2022
A sensitive drill
A sensitive drill
Hearing-impaired people whose auditory nerve is still intact can often be helped with a cochlear implant. But inserting the implant into the inner ear is not without risks, as facial nerves can be damaged in the process. researchers have developed a novel smart drill that minimizes the risk by automatically shutting off when it comes near nerves.

Materials Science - Microtechnics - 08.11.2022
The VR glove from the 3D printer
The VR glove from the 3D printer
Together with EPFL and ETH Zurich colleagues, an Empa team is developing next-generation VR gloves that will make virtual worlds tangible. The glove is to be tailored to each user and capable of being produced largely automatically - using a 3D printing process. Research sometimes needs a sacrifice.

Physics - Materials Science - 03.11.2022
A new quantum component made from graphene
A new quantum component made from graphene
For the first time, researchers have been able to make a superconducting component from graphene that is quantum coherent and sensitive to magnetic fields. This step opens up interesting prospects for fundamental research. Less than 20 years ago, Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim first created two-dimensional crystals consisting of just one layer of carbon atoms.

Materials Science - Electroengineering - 27.10.2022
'Grätzel' solar cells achieve a new record
’Grätzel’ solar cells achieve a new record
Scientists at EPFL have increased the power conversion efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells ("Grätzel cells") beyond 15% in direct sunlight and 30% in ambient light conditions. Mesoscopic dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) were invented in 1990s by Brian O'Regan and Michael Grätzel, taking on the latter's name - the world-famous Grätzel cells.

Materials Science - 25.10.2022
Stable in all kinds of shapes
Stable in all kinds of shapes
Researchers have developed a structure that can switch between stable shapes as needed while being remarkably simple to produce. The key lies in a clever combination of base materials. For a great many years, researchers have been trying to create structures that can assume different stable shapes as required.

Materials Science - Environment - 10.10.2022
Flexible solar cells with record efficiency of 22.2%
Flexible solar cells with record efficiency of 22.2%
One year after announcing an efficiency record, scientists have achieved a new mark of 22.2% for flexible CIGS solar cell on polymer film. Solar cells of this type are especially suited for applications on buildings, vehicles, satellites, airships, and mobile devices. researchers have - once again - improved the efficiency of CIGS flexible solar cells.

Physics - Materials Science - 10.10.2022
Nanomaterial from the Middle Ages
Nanomaterial from the Middle Ages
To gild sculptures in the late Middle Ages, artists often applied ultra-thin gold foil supported by a silver base layer. For the first time, scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have managed to produce nanoscale 3D images of this material, known as Zwischgold. The pictures show this was a highly sophisticated mediaeval production technique and demonstrate why restoring such precious gilded artefacts is so difficult.

Materials Science - Innovation - 03.10.2022
Researchers want to make salt printing marketable
Researchers want to make salt printing marketable
Materials scientists Nicole Kleger and Simona Fehlmann have developed a 3D printing process for creating salt templates that they can fill with other materials. One area of application is the creation of highly porous lightweight metal components. The two Pioneer Fellows are now trying to transfer this process to industry.

Materials Science - 27.09.2022
'Cushions' against rail noise and vibrations
’Cushions’ against rail noise and vibrations
To reduce rail noise for residents, noise barriers or quieter wheel systems and brakes are not the only options. An inconspicuous component under the railway tracks is a beacon of hope for quieter rail traffic for a team of researchers with Empa involvement - and first tests on passing trains show a positive effect.

Electroengineering - Materials Science - 30.08.2022
Green electronics made from wood
Green electronics made from wood
Sustainable electronic components can be made from wood with the help of a novel process that uses a laser to engrave electrically conductive structures on veneers. A research team at Empa and at ETH's Institute for Building Materials has developed a practical and versatile method for making wooden surfaces electrically conductive.

Materials Science - 23.08.2022
A material that can learn and remember like the brain
A material that can learn and remember like the brain
EPFL scientists have found that vanadium oxide (VO2), a material used in electronics, has the ability to remember the entire history of the stimuli it receives. This is the first material to be identified as such, but there may be others. This discovery was a fluke. Mohammad Samizadeh Nikoo, a PhD student in the Power Semiconductor Devices Laboratory (POWERlab) , wanted to study the transition of vanadium oxide (VO2).