Energy & Green Tech

Researchers outline path forward for tandem solar cells

As the old saying goes, two heads are better than one. The same is true when it comes to solar cells working in tandem. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have prepared ...


A 20 kW laser system for producing high-purity crystals

High-purity semiconductor crystals are required for power electronics in electric cars or in photovoltaics. When such crystals reach a diameter of 2 inches, they become relevant for industrial applications.

Energy & Green Tech

Design improvements boost efficiency of III-V solar cells

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) were able to squeeze some extra efficiency out of their solar cells through careful design of the materials in the cell stack.

Electronics & Semiconductors

Tough memory device aims for space missions

Among the many hazards encountered by space probes, exposure to radiation and huge temperature swings pose particular challenges for their electronic circuits. Now KAUST researchers have invented the first ever flash memory ...


Research puts sound waves to test in making solar cells cheaper

Sound waves could play a part in making III-V solar cells more affordable for Earth-bound applications, according research led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). ...

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Gallium ( /ˈɡæliəm/ gal-ee-əm) is a chemical element that has the symbol Ga and atomic number 31. Elemental gallium does not occur in nature, but as the gallium(III) salt in trace amounts in bauxite and zinc ores. A soft silvery metallic poor metal, elemental gallium is a brittle solid at low temperatures. As it liquefies slightly above room temperature, it will melt in the hand. Its melting point is used as a temperature reference point, and from its discovery in 1875 to the semiconductor era, its primary uses were in high-temperature thermometric applications and in preparation of metal alloys with unusual properties of stability, or ease of melting; some being liquid at room temperature or below. The alloy Galinstan (68.5% Ga, 21.5% In, 10% Sn) has a melting point of about −19 °C (−2 °F).

In semiconductors, the major-use compound is gallium arsenide used in microwave circuitry and infrared applications. Gallium nitride and indium gallium nitride, minority semiconductor uses, produce blue and violet light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and diode lasers. Semiconductor use is now almost the entire (> 95%) world market for gallium, but new uses in alloys and fuel cells continue to be discovered.

Gallium is not known to be essential in biology, but because of the biological handling of gallium's primary ionic salt gallium(III) as though it were iron(III), the gallium ion localizes to and interacts with many processes in the body in which iron(III) is manipulated. As these processes include inflammation, which is a marker for many disease states, several gallium salts are used, or are in development, as both pharmaceuticals and radiopharmaceuticals in medicine.

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