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Published: 24 March 2020
by MDPI
Materials, Volume 13; doi:10.3390/ma13061471

Abstract:
Photovoltaics is a promising technology to produce sustainable energy, thanks to the high amount of energy emitted by the sun. One way of having solar cells with low production costs is to apply thin-film technology and with earth-abundant raw materials. A keen interest is arising in kesterite compounds, which are chalcogenides composed of abundant and non-toxic elements. They have already achieved excellent performance at the laboratory level. Here, we report the synthesis and characterization of mixed chalcogenides based on copper, zinc, iron, and tin. Solutions have been studied with different zinc and iron ratios. The distortion of the elementary cell of kesterite increases with the addition of iron until a phase transition to stannite occurs. The process of synthesis and deposition proposed herein is cheap and straightforward, based on the sol-gel technique. These thin films are particularly attractive for use in cheap and easily processable solar cells. The synthesized layers have been characterized by X-ray diffraction, UV-Vis absorption, and Raman, X-ray photoelectron, and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy measurements.
Published: 24 March 2020
by MDPI
Materials, Volume 13; doi:10.3390/ma13061470

Abstract:
Metamaterial absorber with the unexpected capability for harvesting electromagnetic energy has been regarded as a potential route for various applications, including chemical/biological sensing, cloaking and photovoltaic applications. In this study, we presented the simple absorber design made with Al/SiO2/Al sandwich structures through the involvement of hybrid dual-resonators that could allow the wideband light absorption covered from 450 nm to 600 nm with average absorptivity above 95%. Examinations of excited electric field, magnetic field and total magnitude of electric field in three-dimensional space at resonances were performed to clarify the origin of resonant behaviors. In addition, an equivalent inductance–capacitance circuit model was proposed that could qualitatively explore the geometry-dependent absorption characteristics by modulating the constitutive parameters of hybrid resonators. As a result, the designed light absorber might enable to be practically applied for various optical-management and photovoltaic applications, and even offered the tunability for other desired frequency regions.
Published: 24 March 2020
by MDPI
Materials, Volume 13; doi:10.3390/ma13061473

Abstract:
The influence of rare earth Ce on the deep stamping property of high-strength interstitial-free (IF) steel containing phosphorus was analyzed. After adding 120 kg ferrocerium alloy (Ce content is 10%) in the steel, the inclusion statistics and the two-dimensional morphology of the samples in the direction of 1/4 thickness of slab and each rolling process were observed and compared by scanning electron microscope (SEM). After the samples in each rolling process were treated by acid leaching, the three-dimensional morphology and components of the second phase precipitates were observed by SEM and energy dispersive spectrometer (EDS). The microstructure of the sample was observed by optical microscope, and the grain size was compared. Meanwhile, the content and strength of the favorable texture were analyzed by X-ray diffraction (XRD). Finally, the mechanical properties of the product were analyzed. The results showed that: (1) The combination of rare earth Ce with activity O and S in steel had lower Gibbs free energy, and it was easy to generate CeAlO3, Ce2O2S, and Ce2O3. The inclusions size was obviously reduced, but the number of inclusions was increased after adding rare earth. The morphology of inclusions changed from chain and strip to spherical. The size of rare earth inclusions was mostly about 2–5 μm, distributed and dispersed, and their elastic modulus was close to that of steel matrix, which was conducive to improving the structure continuity of steel. (2) The rare earth compound had a high melting point. As a heterogeneous nucleation point, the nucleation rate was increased and the solidification structure was refined. The grade of grain size of products was increased by 1.5 grades, which is helpful to improve the strength and plasticity of metal. (3) Rare earth Ce can inhibit the segregation of P element at the grain boundary and the precipitation of Fe(Nb+Ti)P phase. It can effectively increase the solid solution amount of P element in steel, improve the solid solution strengthening effect of P element in high-strength IF steel, and obtain a large proportion of {111} favorable texture, which is conducive to improving the stamping formability index r90 value.
Published: 24 March 2020
by MDPI
Materials, Volume 13; doi:10.3390/ma13061476

Abstract:
Nickel-based superalloys are being increasingly applied to manufacture components in the aviation industry. The materials are classified as difficult-to-machine using conventional methods. Nowadays, manufacturing techniques are needed to drill high aspect ratio holes of above 20:1 (depth-to-diameter ratio) in these materials. One of the most effective methods of making high-aspect-ratio holes is electrical discharge drilling (EDD). While drilling high aspect ratio holes, a crucial issue is the flushing of the gap area and the evacuation of the erosion products. The use of deionized water as the dielectric fluid in the EDD offers a considerable potential. This paper includes an analysis of the influence of the machining parameters (pulse time, current amplitude and discharge voltage) on the process performance (drilling speed, linear tool wear, taper angle, hole’s aspect ratio, side gap thickness), during the EDD with the use of deionized water in the Inconel 718 alloy. The obtained through holes were subjected to the extended analysis. The impact of the initial working fluid temperature and pressure on the conditions of the flow through the electrode channel was also subjected to the analysis. The deionized water properties were changed by applying an initial temperature. Based on the results of an analysis of the previous research, the EDD of the through holes was performed for a pre-set initial temperature (~313.15 °K) and initial pressure of the working fluid (8 MPa) and selected process parameters. An analysis of the results indicates increasing of hole’s aspect ratio by about 15% (above 30), decreasing the side gap thickness by about 40% and enhanced surface integrity.
Published: 24 March 2020
by MDPI
Materials, Volume 13; doi:10.3390/ma13061477

Abstract:
The aim of this study was to evaluate the correlation between the percent of inorganic filler by weight (wt. %) and by volume (vol. %) of 11 flowable resin composites (FRCs) and their mechanical properties. To establish the correlation, the quantity of inorganic filler was determined by combustion and shape/size analyzed by SEM images. The compressive strength (CS), flexural strength (FS), and flexural modulus (FM) were determined. The CS values were between 182.87-310.38 MPa, the FS values ranged between 59.59 and 96.95 MPa, and the FM values were between 2.34 and 6.23 GPa. The percentage of inorganic filler registered values situated between 52.25 and 69.64 wt. % and 35.35 and 53.50 vol. %. There was a very good correlation between CS, FS, and FM vs. the inorganic filler by wt. % and vol. %. (R2 = 0.8899–0.9483). The highest regression was obtained for the FM values vs. vol. %. SEM images of the tested FRCs showed hybrid inorganic filler for Filtek Supreme XT (A3) and StarFlow (A2) and a homogeneous type of inorganic filler for the other investigated materials. All of the FS values were above 50 MPa, the ISO 4049/2019 limit for FRCs.
Published: 24 March 2020
by MDPI
Materials, Volume 13; doi:10.3390/ma13061472

Abstract:
Thermo-oxidative ageing is one of the main factors affecting bitumen performance. At present, the research on bitumen ageing has entered the micro stage. The purpose of this paper was to study the relationship between nano-morphology parameters and properties of bitumen of bitumen during the ageing process. To this end, bitumen with different ageing degrees was prepared in this paper, and Atomic force microscopy samples with different cooling rates were prepared. The relationship between ageing degree of bitumen and nano-morphology parameters was analyzed. A functional relationship model between nano-morphology parameters and properties of bitumen was established. The results show that the percentage of bee-like structure area ( P bee − like ), maximum amplitude ( H max ) and roughness ( R q ) increased with the increase of ageing degree. the percentage of bee-like structure area, the maximum amplitude and the roughness increase with the increase of cooling rate. With the increase of the percentage of bee-like structure area, the maximum amplitude and the roughness, the viscosity of bitumen at 60 °C increases, penetration decreases, and softening point increases. There is a nonlinear relationship between the nano-morphology parameters and properties of bitumen.
Published: 24 March 2020
by MDPI
Materials, Volume 13; doi:10.3390/ma13061474

Abstract:
Electrochemical energy conversion and storage is key for the use of regenerative energies at large scale. A thorough understanding of the individual components, such as the ion conducting membrane and the electrode layers, can be obtained with scattering techniques on atomic to molecular length scales. The largely heterogeneous electrode layers of High-Temperature Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells are studied in this work with small- and wide-angle neutron scattering at the same time with the iMATERIA diffractometer at the spallation neutron source at J-PARC, opening a view on structural properties on atomic to mesoscopic length scales. Recent results on the proton mobility from the same samples measured with backscattering spectroscopy are put into relation with the structural findings.
Published: 24 March 2020
by MDPI
Materials, Volume 13; doi:10.3390/ma13061475

Abstract:
A homogenization theory that can go beyond the regime of long wavelengths is proposed, namely, a theory that is still valid for vectors of waves near the edge of the first zone of Brillouin. In this paper, we consider that the displacement vector and the magnetic induction fields have averages in the volume of the cell associated with the values of the electric and magnetic fields in the edges of the cell, so they satisfy Maxwell’s equations. Applying Fourier formalism, explicit expressions were obtained for the case of a photonic crystal with arbitrary periodicity. In the case of one-dimensional (1D) photonic crystals, the expressions for the tensor of the effective bianisotropic response (effective permittivity, permeability and crossed magneto-electric tensors) are remarkably simplified. Specifically, the effective permittivity and permeability tensors are calculated for the case of 1D photonic crystals with isotropic and anisotropic magnetic inclusions. Through a numerical calculation, the dependence of these effective tensors upon the filling fraction of the magnetic inclusion is shown and analyzed. Our results show good correspondence with the approach solution of Rytov’s effective medium. The derived formulas can be very useful for the design of anisotropic systems with specific optical properties that exhibit metamaterial behavior.
Published: 23 March 2020
by MDPI
Materials, Volume 13; doi:10.3390/ma13061458

Abstract:
Materials self-assembly represents a key strategy for the design and fabrication of nanostructured systems and has become a fundamental approach for the construction of advanced nanomaterials
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