CEP: News Update


What appears to be an ordinary cut rose is in fact the first-ever fully functional electronic plant. Researchers from Linköping Univ. in Sweden pumped a self-organizing conducting polymer into the natural vasculature of the rose to create a flower that could theoretically act as a power source for sensors, switches, and other applications.

Fossil fuels contain sulfur compounds that poison catalytic converters and form polluting sulfur oxides when combusted. With strict environmental regulations in many countries limiting the sulfur content in transportation fuels, refiners must remove most of the sulfur impurities from petroleum fractions prior to their use as fuel.

Scientists at Duke Univ. have developed a rhodium-based catalyst that achieves high selectivity and high turnover rates in the presence of light instead of heat. They demonstrate their new illuminated catalyst with the conversion of CO2 and hydrogen into methane, a key building block for many types of fuel. The light-driven reaction achieves high turnover rates, and it has a high selectivity for methane over the kinetically favored carbon monoxide.

Steel is a common benchmark material for strength. Many newly developed materials boast strength rivaling that of steel. Although strong, steel has weaknesses, in particular, it is susceptible to fatigue failure. Instead of pushing steel aside for a newer model, researchers have identified a way to improve steel’s performance by adding a bit of new to the old.

Engineers at the Univ. of British Columbia have developed a transparent, stretchy sensor that could one day be draped over skin or surfaces such as windows, countertops, and steering wheels to either receive instructions or provide feedback to an appliance. Another application for the new material — a floor sensor that indicates the position of inhabitants.

Batteries fall significantly short of meeting the demands of electric-vehicle owners when it comes to driving range — the distance a vehicle can travel between charges. An electrolyte additive may be the secret to extending the life of rechargeable lithium-metal batteries.

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