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May 2015
In This Issue
From SPIE Professional (DOI: 10.1117/2.4201504.03), April 2015 by Rosemarie Szostak:

"China lifted its export restrictions on the 17 rare-earth elements (REE) in January. Now, five years after China's 2010 restrictive action caused a rapid rise in REE prices, followed by a rapid decline, the high-tech industry that depends on these raw materials for such things as cellphone batteries, LCDs, catalytic converters, and permanent magnets is going through another stage of innovation and adaptation.

The rarest of these elements, thulium and lutetium, are nearly 200 times more abundant on Earth than gold. What makes them rare is that they are rarely found in concentrations high enough for economical extraction using traditional mining technologies.

Today, the Chinese share of the REE industry has dropped to 70%, and prices are in decline because innovation and adaptation by those facing shortages and high prices have:

  • Encouraged development of REE mining in other parts of the world
  • Promoted the use of less REE in products
  • Supported recycling efforts
  • Advanced research in substitute materials
  • Facilitated the design of components and systems for easy materials reuse and recycling"


Source: SPIE Professional
Image Source: 
SPIE Professional

Silver-Glass Sandwich Structure Acts as Inexpensive Color Filter

From Northwestern University, McCormick News, February 12, 2015, by Amanda Morris:

"Northwestern University researchers have created a new technique that can transform silver into any color of the rainbow. Their simple method is a fast, low-cost alternative to color filters currently used in electronic displays and monitors.


The filter's secret lies within its "sandwich-like" structure. The research team created a three-layer design, where glass is wedged two thin layers of silver film. The silver layers are thin enough to allow optical light to pass through, which then transmits a certain color through the glass and reflects the rest of the visible spectrum. By changing the thickness of the glass, researchers were able to filter and produce different colors."

Image Source: Northwestern University


Molecular Dynamics Unravel the Dependence of Friction on the Atomistic Details of Surfaces

From London Centre of Nanotechnology, February 2015 by Gabriele Tocci and Angelos Michaelides:

"Researchers at University College London (UCL) in a collaboration study with Laurent Joly, from the University of Lyon, have investigated the friction properties of liquid water at the interface with graphene and with an hexagonal boron nitride sheet, using ab initio molecular dynamics for the first time.

Friction is one of the main sources of dissipation and is the main factor limiting the efficiency of nanofluidic devices.   For instance, about one third of the world's mechanical energy is dissipated into friction, and so an understanding of nanoscale friction at the interface between a liquid and a solid is also crucial for the development of efficient membranes for water desalination and power harvesting.

This UCL-led collaborative study showed for the first time that liquid/solid friction can be accurately quantified using ab initio molecular dynamics. This is an achievement that, mainly due to massive advances in computational power, would have been inconceivable just a few years ago.  With the ab initio approach used, the friction properties of water on carbon and BN nanostructures were compared on a completely equal footing.  This revealed the quite surprising result that while the structure and wetting properties of the two interfaces are extremely similar, friction is very different.

They found that although the interface presents a very similar structure between the two sheets, the friction coefficient on BN is ≈3 times larger than that on graphene."

Image Source: London Centre of Nanotechnology

In Quest for Better Lithium-Air Batteries, Chemists Boost Carbon's Stability

From Science Daily, February 25, 2015: 

"In the search for the improved lithium-ion battery, Boston College, Associate Professor of Chemistry Dunwei Wang has been developing materials that might one day enable the manufacture of new batteries capable of meeting power demands within the size and cost constraints of car makers and other industries.


In a recent report published in the German journal Angewandt Chemie, Wang and a colleague from the University of Massachusetts Amherst unveiled a new method of stabilizing carbon -- a central structural component of any battery -- that could pave the way to new performance standards in the hunt for a lithium-ion components.


Employing a technique called atomic layer deposition (ALD), the researchers grew a thin coating of iron oxide on the carbon, a step that enhanced the reactivity between lithium and oxygen and improved performance on the charge cycle. Next, they used ALD to apply a coating of palladium nanoparticles, which effectively reduced carbon's deteriorative reaction with oxygen and improved the discharge cycle. 


They demonstrated that a particular form of carbon can be used to support a new type of chemistry that allows for energy storage with the promise of five to 10 times more energy density than state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries we see today."

Image Source: Boston College

The Future of Electronics - Now in 2D 

From The Ohio State University, February 14, 2015, by Pam Frost Gorder:

'The future of electronics could lie in a material from its past, as researchers from The Ohio State University work to turn germanium-the material of 1940s transistors-into a potential replacement for silicon. At the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, assistant professor of chemistry Joshua Goldberger reported progress in developing a form of germanium called germanane.

In 2013, Goldberger's lab at Ohio State became the first to succeed at creating one-atom-thick sheet of germanane-a sheet so thin, it can be thought of as two-dimensional. Since then, he and his team have been tinkering with the atomic bonds across the top and bottom of the sheet, and creating hybrid versions of the material that incorporate other atoms such as tin.


"We've found that by tuning the nature of these bonds, we can tune the electronic structure of the material. We can increase or decrease the energy it absorbs," Goldberger said. "So potentially we could make a material that traverses the entire electromagnetic spectrum, or absorbs different colors, depending on those bonds."

The goal is to make a material that not only transmits electrons 10 times faster than silicon, but is also better at absorbing and emitting light-a key feature for the advancement of efficient LEDs and lasers.

Image Source: 
Ohio State University/Joshua Goldberger

Defeating Dendrites and Increasing Battery Capacity


From Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), February 2015:
"Today's batteries cannot take in all of a wind farm's energy on a blustery night and hold it until it is needed the next day. A promising option is to create a higher capacity battery by replacing the negative electrode in conventional batteries with one made of lithium metal. The problem? Dendrites cause the batteries to short circuit, leading to serious safety hazards. Recently, scientists discovered how to prevent dendrite formation. For the first time, a team including experts at DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory grew protective films around the anodes that prevented dendrites from forming.

The findings from this study, done through DOE's Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), could help scientists design a safe and stable metallic lithium anode and ultimately pave the way for the practical use of high-energy-density battery systems for electric vehicles and storing renewable energy."


Source: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory,
Image Source: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory,

The European Roadmap for Graphene Science and Technology

From University of Cambridge (UK), February 24, 2015:
"In October 2013, academia and industry came together to form the Graphene Flagship. Now with 142 partners in 23 countries, and a growing number of associate members, the Graphene Flagship was established following a call from the European Commission to address big science and technology challenges of the day through long-term, multidisciplinary R&D efforts.

In an open-access paper published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Nanoscale, more than 60 academics and industrialists lay out a science and technology roadmap for graphene, related two-dimensional crystals, other 2D materials, and hybrid systems based on a combination of different 2D crystals and other nanomaterials. The roadmap covers the next ten years and beyond, and its objective is to guide the research community and industry toward the development of products based on graphene and related materials."

Source: University of Cambridge,
Image Source: Royal Society of Chemistry journal page 241.

EU Project to Enhance Detection and Repair Nanoscale Defects on Thin Films

From NanoMend, by Joyce Lampert: 

"NanoMend is a collaborative EU-backed, end user led project aimed at developing technologies for in-line detection, cleaning and repair of micro and nanoscale defects on thin films deposited on large area substrates. The aim is to integrate these technologies into systems that work at speeds required for continuous production, thus enabling the new technologies to improve product yield and performance, while keeping manufacturing costs low. They will assess the economic feasibility of these technologies by providing the expertise and capability to test and develop the technologies from lab scale to roll to roll processes at pilot production scale.


The NanoMend project is examining three technologies: ALD, Wavelength Scanning Interferometry and High Sensitivity Water Vapor Transmission Rate (WVTR) testing of ultra-barrier films. The two focused application areas are paper packaging for foods and flexible PV.  The technologies can also be applied to improve manufacturing thin film technologies in the production of packaging materials, flexible solar panels, lighting and indoor and outdoor digital signage and displays.

One accomplishment is the development of a Wavelength Scanning Interferometer, a pilot scale ultra-barrier defect detection tool. "Nano-scale defects in barrier films allow water vapor to pass through, degrading the product over time, and defects in metal interconnects can also cause short circuits, which result in high value products being scrapped."

The consortium includes a mix of 14 industrial and academic partners from 6 European countries."



Source: Nanomend,
Image Source:  Nanomend

Sensors Monitor Wound Healing

From Chemical and Engineering News, March 30, 2015 by Celia Henry Arnaud: 


"Clinicians assess wound healing through visual inspection and lab tests. But distinguishing a wound that's healing from one that's not is difficult to do early enough to make a difference.

Researchers hope to change that. They are finding biomarkers in the fluid exuded from a wound that can flag whether it's healing properly. In a symposium at Pittcon (Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry & Applied Spectroscopy) organized by Mark H. Schoenfisch, a chemistry professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, analytical chemists described tools they're developing to measure some of those biomarkers. The plan is to incorporate the biomarker sensors into a biodegradable "smart bandage" that can monitor and accelerate wound healing.

Image Source: Chemical and Engineering News Illustration/ James Davis Photo

Switching Superconductivity by Light

From National Institutes of Natural Sciences (Japan), February 13, 2015:

"A research team led by Prof. Hiroshi M. Yamamoto of the Institute for Molecular Science, National Institutes of Natural Sciences has developed a novel superconducting transistor which can be switched reversibly between ON and OFF by light-irradiation. This achievement is a milestone for future high-speed switching devices or highly-sensitive optical sensors.

In this research, the team fabricated a novel photo-switchable transistor by replacing the gate electrode in the conventional FET with a 'spiropyran'-thin-film. When a member of the research team shined a pale UV light on this novel FET, it showed a rapid decrease of electrical resistance and turned into a superconducting state after 180 seconds. Spiropyran is a photo-active organic molecule that shows intra-molecular electrical polarization by UV light irradiation."

Source: National Institutes of Natural Sciences

Image Source: National Institutes of Natural Sciences

Global Photovoltaic Shipments Jump 15% in 2014

From IDTechEx, February 29, 2015, by Paula Mints, SPV Market Research in collaboration with IDTechEx:  

"PV industry shipments grew by 15% in 2014 over 2013 to 39.3-GWp from 34.0-GWp the previous year, according to the SPV Market Research/IDTechEx annual supply report "Photovoltaic Manufacturer Shipments: Capacity, Production, Prices and Revenues to 2019". Supply side inventory was 1.1-GWp at the end of 2014 and demand side inventory decreased by 400-MWp to 2.4-GWp. Defective modules removed from service were ~1.6-GWp at the end of 2014

Thin film shipments (CdTe, CIGS, a-Si) represented 7% of the global total in 2014, heavily weighted by First Solar's CdTe technology. Regionally, thin film production is most active in the US, Japan and Malaysia."

Image Source: IDTechEx

Getting 2 for 1: 'Bonus' Electrons in Germanium Nanocrystals Can Lead to Better Solar Cells

From Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM, The Netherlands), February 13, 2015:  

"Researchers from FOM, the University of Amsterdam, the Delft University of Technology and the University of the Algarve have discovered that when light hits germanium nanocrystals, the crystals produce 'bonus electrons'. These additional electrons could increase the yield of solar cells and improve the sensitivity of photodetectors. The researchers published their work in Light: Science & Applications."

In nanocrystals, the absorption of a single photon can lead to the excitation of multiple electrons: two for one! This phenomenon, known as carrier multiplication, was already well known in silicon nanocrystals. Silicon is the most commonly used material in solar cells. However, the researchers found that carrier multiplication also occurs in germanium nanocrystals, which are more suitable for optimizing the efficiency than silicon nanocrystals. Their discovery could lead to better solar cells."

Image Source: Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter

FLASHED! Touch Screens for Flexible Displays

From Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research (ISC), February 2, 2015:  

"An innovative material developed by Fraunhofer ISC presents a major advance in flexible display technology: Printed sensors make a self-sensing film »feel« deformations.

Joanneum Research, the Media Interaction Lab of the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, FlexEnable (former Plastic Logic) and Microsoft Research are joint partners in the European FLASHED Project which started out in October 2013.  They just introduced their FLEX SENSE display. FLEX SENSE is a flexible film with a touch-sensitive surface which self-registers deformations using printed quasi-transparent piezo-sensors.

This new touch sensor technology becomes possible through a material developed by Fraunhofer ISC, also a partner in the FLASHED project. The researchers from Würzburg, Germany, developed piezoelectric printing pastes which render flexible polymer films sensitive. Electronic pressure sensors can then be printed on them in a simple printing process. This way, it was possible to print the pressure and bending sensors required for FLEX SENSE directly onto flexible film substrates.

The sensors, which are producible at low cost, do not only register pressure changes due to bending or moving of the flexible display but also changes in the temperature. This makes them suitable for use as proximity sensors. Even a minor temperature change will release a signal. If such an effect is unwanted it may also be prevented."

Source: Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research

Image Source: Joanneum Research

Semiconductor Works Better When Hitched to Graphene

From SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, February 18, 2015:  

"Experiments at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory looked at the properties of materials that combine graphene with a common type of semiconducting polymer. They found that a thin film of the polymer transported electric charge even better when grown on a single layer of graphene than it does when placed on a thin layer of silicon.

The team also discovered something much unexpected. Although it was widely believed that a thinner polymer film should enable electrons to travel faster and more efficiently than a thicker film, the team discovered that a polymer film about 50 nanometers thick conducted charge about 50 times better when deposited on graphene than the same film about 10 nanometers thick."

Image Source: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory/David Barbero
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6th International Conference on Fundamentals and Industrial Applications on HIPIMS

June 8-11, 2015

Braunschweig, Germany

Civic Centre, Stadthalle Braunschweig



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Venue: Fraunhofer-Institute IST, Bienroder Weg 54 E, BS

June 8, 2015

C-323 High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering | Arutiun P. Ehiasarian

June 9, 2015

C-338 Application of Reactive Sputtering, Ralf Bandorf, Holger Gerdes (half day/AM)

C-333 Practice and Applications of High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (HIPIMS) Ralf Bandorf, Arutiun P. Ehiasarian (half day/PM)


HIPIMS 2015 will provide a forum for high-level networking and exchange of knowledge and expertise in the field of HIPIMS between researchers, scientists, and engineers from industry, research labs, and academia. The conference will cover the full range of research and application from fundamental scientific aspects to industrial applications and products. Special emphasis will be given to commercial plasma and material development, commercial equipment and industrial processes. 


As a truly international conference, HIPIMS 2015 will present the most recent results of scientific research as well as new applications in the field of HIPIMS technology.


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The 13th International Symposium on Sputtering and Plasma Processes

July 8-10, 2015

Kyoto Research Park, Kyoto, Japan  



The 13th International Symposium on Sputtering and Plasma Processes (ISSP2015) been held biennially and has gathered 135+ presentations and 210+ attendees. The topics of this symposium include: fundamentals of sputtering and plasma processes, sputtering processes, plasma processes, plasma induced process technologies, thin films, micro- and nano-technologies, applications, and others. The program will consist of invited, contributed talks and poster presentations. To encourage young scientists' contributions, poster awards will be given to three outstanding poster presentations.


Contact: ISSP 2015 Office,


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SEMICON West 2015

SEMICON West 2015

July 14-16, 2015

Moscone Center, San Francisco.  



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The 10th Asian-European International Conference on Plasma Surface Engineering

AEPSE 2015/span>

September 20-24, 2015

Ramada Plaza Jeju Hotel, Jeju Island, Korea  


The 10th Anniversary Asian-European International Conference on Plasma Surface Engineering (AEPSE2015) will be held from September 20 to September 24, 2015, in Jeju, Republic of Korea. The AEPSE conference has attracted growing interest as a global open forum for contributing to scientific and industrial progress in applied plasma science and engineering fields.

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