News & Views

Filter By:

Article Type
  • Photocatalytic hydrogen peroxide synthesis is a green approach to produce this widely-used chemical and potential energy carrier, yet performance is often poor. A porphyrin-based photocatalyst is now shown to produce hydrogen peroxide by an unusual mechanism involving both photoexcited electrons and holes with promising efficiency.

    • Yuanxing Fang
    • Xinchen Wang
    News & Views
  • Capping a three-dimensional metal halide perovskite with a layered, two-dimensional perovskite prevents ions from diffusing out of the perovskite keeping out oxygen and water as well as contributing to solar cell stability. New research shows that a thin cross-linked polymer layer can ensure that the boundary between the 3D and 2D materials remains sharp, further improving stability.

    • Michael D. McGehee
    News & Views
  • Conventional and emerging refrigeration technologies either use refrigerants with high-global warming potential (GWP) or require application of strong fields. Now, researchers demonstrate ionocaloric refrigeration based on the electrochemical tuning of the melting behaviour of zero-GWP materials under low applied field strength.

    • Si Wu
    • Tingxian Li
    News & Views
  • The limited durability of perovskite photovoltaics has held back the technology. New research unveils a class of low-dimensionality perovskites based on metals such as zinc, cobalt or copper that protects the 3D perovskite solar absorber from degradation while affording high efficiency.

    • Wanyi Nie
    News & Views
  • Oxygen redox provides an opportunity to realize the high-energy potential of battery cathodes, but the formation of molecular O2 from the oxidation of oxide ions significantly reduces the cycling stability. Now, the nature of electron-holes on oxide ions is reported, providing insights into realizing a truly reversible oxygen–redox cathode.

    • Yoo-Jong Park
    • Dong-Hwa Seo
    News & Views
  • Lithium metal batteries potentially offer high energy densities but suffer from critical problems such as uncontrolled lithium deposition, particularly under fast charging. Now, an efficient strategy is reported to enable highly reversible deposition through the growth of faceted single-crystalline lithium on a lithiophobic substrate.

    • Zhiqiang Li
    • Ning Qin
    • Zhouguang Lu
    News & Views
  • Zero–gap CO/CO2 electrolyzers typically exhibit low energy conversion efficiency at high reactant conversion due to current losses associated with the parasitic production of H2. Now, an electrolyzer using an electrocatalyst in bulk heterojunction with a hydrophobic covalent organic framework has maintained high energy efficiency at near unity reactant conversion.

    • Ezra L. Clark
    News & Views
  • Perovskite solar cells hold potential for space applications yet they need to withstand harsh space stressors. Now, researchers develop a low-cost and lightweight barrier layer of silicon oxide thermally evaporated atop the finished solar cell that affords protection against proton radiation, atomic oxygen and alpha particles.

    • Narges Yaghoobi Nia
    News & Views
  • Silicon-based anodes suffer from immense volume change and cracks during battery operations, limiting cycling stability. Now, a hierarchically-ordered conductive binder network — formed in situ upon thermal treatment of anodes containing conducting polymer precursors — can improve charge-transport and mechanical properties, and thus cyclability.

    • Yan Zhao
    • Ali Coskun
    News & Views
  • Electrochemical reduction of N2, mediated by Li, offers promise to decarbonize NH3 production, yet interfacial dynamics in such systems are poorly understood. Now, the morphology of the solid-electrolyte interphase layer formed during N2 reduction is revealed, opening opportunities to elucidate by-product formation mechanisms and improve NH3 selectivity.

    • Eric J. McShane
    • Matteo Cargnello
    News & Views
  • Rooftop solar panels are often seen principally as an option for wealthier households, despite the savings they can bring. A new study following low-income households over 10 months shows how they adopt rooftop solar panels, establish new prosumption practices, and commit to these practices as the benefits of the technology emerge.

    • Lucie Middlemiss
    News & Views
  • Historically redlined communities have been disproportionately burdened by multiple environmental and social stressors, related to lower housing values and inequitable access to investments and other resources. New research examines whether redlining was associated with the siting of fossil fuel power plants and how that association changed over time.

    • Jonathan I. Levy
    News & Views
  • Bifaciality allows the harvest of sunlight from both sides of a solar cell and thereby increases power output, but the efficiency of thin-film devices lags behind that of silicon counterparts. Now, researchers demonstrate a bifacial Cu(In,Ga)Se2-perovskite tandem solar cell with a 28 mW/cm2 power output under front and rear illumination.

    • Marika Edoff
    News & Views
  • The growing proportion of renewable energy increases the need to align consumer consumption behaviours with fluctuating energy supply. A new study pairs objective smart meter electricity data with subjective survey data to offer important insights into whether consumers are aware of their own electricity use patterns and thus whether they are prepared for an increasingly dynamic energy system.

    • Ulf J. J. Hahnel
    News & Views
  • Achieving high ionic conductivity at close to room temperature in solid oxide electrolytes is challenging due to the large thermal activation needed for ion transport. Now, a hydrogen-intercalated brownmillerite oxide, SrCoO2.5, has been shown to function as a high-performance proton conducting electrolyte for fuel cells below 200°C.

    • Ravindra Singh Bisht
    • Shriram Ramanathan
    News & Views
  • One of the biggest hurdles to realise high-performance Li-metal batteries is the instability of Li metal towards all relevant electrolytes. Now, an approach is reported to improve Li cells’ stability by upshifting the Li electrodes’ potential to reduce their voltage gap with the electrolyte electrochemical stability windows.

    • Doron Aurbach
    • Mikhael Levi
    • Netanel Shpigel
    News & Views
  • It is challenging to develop battery cathodes with both high performance and low cost. Now, an amorphous material based on cheap, earth-abundant elements is shown to achieve high capacity by undertaking both the intercalation and conversion reactions reversibly.

    • Byoungwoo Kang
    News & Views
  • Charge generation in organic photovoltaics hinges upon the frontier molecular orbital energies of organic semiconductors, yet their precise determination is not trivial. Now, researchers compare various methods to determine these energies and show the need for an energy level offset to assist charge generation in non-fullerene-based solar cells.

    • Thuc-Quyen Nguyen
    News & Views
  • Electrochemical CO2 capture could potentially avoid large energy inputs typical of approaches based on temperature and pressure swings, but better sorbents are still needed. New research expands the sorbent library using molecules with redox-tuneable sp2 nitrogen centres as effective electrochemical CO2 capture agents.

    • William A. Tarpeh
    News & Views
  • Lithium-metal batteries offer great energy density improvement over lithium-ion, but understanding their cyclability is a daunting task. Now, an analytical method is reported to quantify lithium in its electrochemically inactive and active forms, enabling insights about the anode reversibility throughout cycling.

    • Zachary M. Konz
    • Bryan D. McCloskey
    News & Views