The number of data-transmitting microdevices, for instance in packaging and transport logistics, will increase sharply in the coming years. All these devices need energy, but the amount of batteries would have a major impact on the environment. Empa researchers have developed a biodegradable mini-capacitor that can solve the problem. It consists of carbon, cellulose, glycerin and table salt. And it works reliably.
Aerogel is an excellent thermal insulator. So far, however, it has mainly been used on a large scale, for example in environmental technology, in physical experiments or in industrial catalysis. Empa researchers have now succeeded in making aerogels accessible to microelectronics and precision engineering: An article in the latest issue of the scientific journal “Nature” shows how 3D-printed parts made of silica aerogels and silica composite materials can be manufactured with high precision. This opens up numerous new application possibilities in the high-tech industry, for example in microelectronics, robotics, biotechnology and sensor technology.
A new technique funded by NIBIB and developed by University of Minnesota researchers allows 3D printing of hydrogel-based sensors directly on the surface of organs, such as lungs—even as they expand and contract.