Next gen solar cells perform better when there’s a camera around

ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science, Media releases

Full paper available here, read on for media release, photos, captions and background information.

Researchers find a simple way to detect tiny imperfections that affect performance. 

Perovskite solar cells bathed in blue light, and responding in infrared. Credit: Exciton Science

A literal “trick of the light” can detect imperfections in next-gen solar cells, boosting their efficiency to match that of existing silicon-based versions, researchers have found. 

The discovery opens a pathway to improved quality control for commercial production.

On small scales, perovskite solar cells – which promise cheap and abundant solar energy generation – are already almost as efficient as silicon ones. 

However, as scale increases the perovskite cells perform less well, because of nanoscale surface imperfections resulting from the way they are made.

As the number of unwanted tiny lumps and bumps grows, the amount of solar power generated per square centimetre drops off. 

Now, however, Australian researchers have come up with a solution – using a camera. 

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Leaky water pipes found at high speed using AI

Fresh Science

Researchers have been able to pick a water leak within 1 percent of its location within seconds.

Artificial intelligence combined with pressure waves has been used to find faults in major water pipelines faster and more cheaply than existing methods.

Jessica Bohorquez and researchers from the University of Adelaide have developed a system that utilises the deep learning capability of AI and has dramatically increased the chances of detecting cracks in underground pipes.

“In a country where water is scarce, there is an urgent need for this type of technology,” says Jessica.

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Coronavirus reveals the need for a healthcare transformation

Media releases

Academy report recommends rapid transition of medical sector to meet future challenges

Summary and full report available here, read on for media release, photos, captions and background information.

ATSE Australia health tech in 2030

Australia’s healthcare system must quickly incorporate technologies including remote consulting, wearable monitors and full digitisation if it is to meet the challenges of the coming decade, an investigation by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) has found.

Smart devices that check temperature and oxygen levels, health appointments via Skype, e-health records that tell hospitals which antibiotics patients are allergic to, digital disease surveillance, and modelling that pinpoints regions showing signs of outbreaks – these are new health technologies that are desperately needed as the world responds to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Cold War nuclear bomb tests reveal true age of whale sharks

Australian Institute of Marine Science, Media releases

The radioactive legacy of the arms race solves a mystery about the world’s largest fish.

Text Box:  A whale shark vertebra from Pakistan, in cross section, showing 50 growth bands. Credit: Paul Fanning, Pakistan node of the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation.
AIMS researcher Mark Meekan swimming with a whale shark. (Horizontal)
Credit: Wayne Osborn

Atomic bomb tests conducted during the Cold War have helped scientists for the first time correctly determine the age of whale sharks.

The discovery, published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, will help ensure the survival of the species – the largest fish in the world – which is classified as endangered.

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We’re open for business

Other

Science in Public is open for business with a full suite of services including our training, which is available via Zoom, Teams, Skype etc.

The Science in Public team pre-COVID

Our team of six salaried staff are all working from home and we’re working hard to ensure that we can keep everything rolling. Government support is helping.

A few weeks ago, we thought we would be badly affected by COVID and its impact on universities. Today, we realise that we’re luckier than most small businesses. You, our clients, are successfully transitioning to home working. Our work and our products are largely created, stored and distributed online.

The Science in Public team post-COVID

And we hope that there will be a renaissance of interest in science as people recognise its importance in guiding and protecting society. Although many labs are now closed, the business of science goes on: results are still being correlated, and analysed, papers are still being written, submitted and going through peer review; journals are still being published; grant applications are still being compiled; award nominations are still being written.

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Detecting asthma in horses

Fresh Science

Using a face mask, Adelaide researchers have a new way to detect a major hidden equine health issue.

Up to 80 percent of horses – including racehorses and showjumpers – suffer from a form of asthma that affects their performance and wellbeing.

Researchers led by veterinarian Surita Du Preez from the University of Adelaide are designing a way to detect the condition – which often produces no obvious symptoms – without adding further stress to the affected animals.

“Currently the methods that are available to diagnose the mild to moderate form of horse asthma are invasive,” says Surita.

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Solving a mystery in 126 dimensions

Other

After 90 years, scientists reveal the structure of benzene.

One of the fundamental mysteries of chemistry has been solved by Australian scientists – and the result may have implications for future designs of solar cells, organic light-emitting diodes and other next gen technologies.

Ever since the 1930s debate has raged inside chemistry circles concerning the fundamental structure of benzene. It is a debate that in recent years has taken on added urgency, because benzene – which comprises six carbon atoms matched with six hydrogen atoms – is the smallest molecule that can be used in the production of opto-electronic materials, which are revolutionising renewable energy and telecommunications tech.

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New bendable cement-free concrete can potentially make safer, long-lasting and greener infrastructure.

Fresh Science, Media releases

A new type of concrete that is made out of waste materials and can bend under load has been developed by researchers from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.

This material, which incorporates industrial waste products such as fly ash produced by coal-fired power stations, is especially suited for construction in earthquake zones – in which the brittle nature of conventional concrete often leads to disastrous building collapses.

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Ghostly traces of massive ancient river revealed

Fresh Science

Using zircon crystals, researchers have discovered the route of a massive ancient river that could help find new reservoirs of fossil fuels and suggest how modern rivers might change over time.

More than two thirds of the worlds’ major cities are located in coastal deltas. How they change over time can impact communities that live around them.

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You saw sawfish!

Media releases, Other

Hundreds of citizen science sightings reveal opportunities to protect Australia’s four iconic sawfish species

Green Sawfish (P. zijsron) – Weipa, QLD 2019
  • New hotspots for green sawfish in Weipa and Karratha.
  • A sawfish nursery in the Brisbane River until about 1950.
  • Evidence that sawfish have not completely disappeared from NSW waters, with a Newcastle sighting.
  • Juvenile sawfish reported down the WA coast.
  • More action needed in Queensland as only one species reported south of Cooktown.
  • A new call to action to step up conservation and assess the impact of net-free zones in Weipa and Queensland’s east coast.
  • And keep reporting your sightings. Together we can save sawfish.
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