Thursday, March 31, 2011
Microchips that ‘harvest’ the energy they need from their own surroundings, without depending on batteries or mains electricity. That will be possible now that researchers have for the first time succeeded in manufacturing a microchip with an efficient solar cell placed on top of the microelectronics.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Chemists have refuted a basic postulate of Förster theory, which describes energy transfers between pigment molecules, such as those that underlie photosynthesis. A revised version of the theory could have an impact on the design of optical computers and improve the efficiency of solar cells.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Scientists have found that the low rate of energy conversion in all-polymer solar-cell technology is caused by the structure of the solar cells themselves.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Scientists specializing in microfabrication and microfludics have developed a new and rapid method for fabrication of non-reflecting and self-cleaning surfaces. Surface properties are based on the nanostructured surface.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Ultra-thin solar cells can absorb sunlight more efficiently than the thicker, more expensive-to-make silicon cells used today, because light behaves differently at scales around a nanometer (a billionth of a meter), say engineers. They calculate that an organic polymer thin film could absorb as much as 10 times more energy from sunlight than was thought possible.
Friday, March 25, 2011
The heat radiating off roadways has long been a factor in explaining why city temperatures are often considerably warmer than nearby suburban or rural areas. Now a team of engineering researchers is examining methods of harvesting that solar energy to melt ice, power streetlights, illuminate signs, heat buildings and potentially use it for many other purposes.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Plants use specialized protein complexes to collect the light that drives photosynthesis. Researchers in Germany have now identified a protein that is necessary for the assembly of one such complex. The discovery could lead to improved crop yields and might even form the basis for new types of solar cells.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Researchers have developed a biohybrid photoconversion system -- based on the interaction of photosynthetic plant proteins with synthetic polymers -- that can convert visible light into hydrogen fuel.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Supplying energy is in the process of metamorphosis because people want to know what is the most intelligent and efficient way to utilize all types of energy carriers. Researchers put the most common ideas for heating under the microscope and come up with major potential.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Investigators in New York are giving factory production of solar energy cells a modern makeover. Their new approach includes the use of "continuous electronic sheets," something like a computer flattened into wrapping paper.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Scientists have produced silicon photovoltaic cells with a conversion efficiency of 20.5%, the highest level achieved in Spain using this material.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
A new study analyzing what is needed to convert the world's energy supplies to clean and sustainable sources says that it can be done with today's technology at costs roughly comparable to conventional energy. But converting will be a massive undertaking on the scale of the moon landings. What is needed most is the societal and political will to make it happen.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Researchers have created unique dual-diameter nanopillars -- narrow at the top, broad at the bottom -- that absorb light as well or even better than commercial thin-film solar cells, using far less semiconductor material and without the need for anti-reflective coating.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Current loss tracked down by magnetic fingerprint; Researchers solve the case of lost current in organic solar cells
Conventional solar cells made from crystalline silicon are difficult and energy-intensive to manufacture. Organic solar cells are cheaper, but have always produced less electricity. Why this is so has never been fully explained. Now, a method developed by researchers in Germany reveals that current flow inside a solar cell can be affected by the spin of the charge-carrying particles.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Researchers are working at developing a system for collecting the solar energy absorbed by asphalt paved surfaces.
Friday, March 11, 2011
A new golden age of sailing may be about to begin -- in space. Future missions to explore the outer planets could employ fleets of ‘data-clippers’ -- manoeuvrable spacecraft equipped with solar sails, to ship vast quantities of scientific data to back Earth. The technology could be ready in time to support mid-term missions to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
To better understand the energy and environmental benefits and detriments of solar power, a research team has conducted one of the first life-cycle assessments of organic solar cells. The study found that the embodied energy -- or the total energy required to make a product -- is less for organic solar cells compared with conventional inorganic devices.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
A researcher is helping to design instruments for a robotic space probe that will go where no other has gone before: the sun. NASA's Solar Probe Plus project is slated to launch by 2018.
Monday, March 7, 2011
The era of personalized energy systems -- in which individual homes and small businesses produce their own energy for heating, cooling and powering cars -- took another step toward reality as scientists reported discovery of a powerful new catalyst that is a key element in such a system. The advance could help free homes and businesses from dependence on the electric company and the corner gasoline station.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Funneling solar energy: Antenna made of carbon nanotubes could make photovoltaic cells more efficient
Using carbon nanotubes (hollow tubes of carbon atoms), chemical engineers have found a way to concentrate solar energy 100 times more than a regular photovoltaic cell. Such nanotubes could form antennas that capture and focus light energy, potentially allowing much smaller and more powerful solar arrays.
Friday, March 4, 2011
It's not hard to argue in favor of alternatives to fossil fuels these days, but one popular argument -- domestic energy security -- may be standing on very shaky legs. A lot of rare metals are needed to make photovoltaic panels, rare earth magnets for wind generators, fuel cells and high-capacity batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles. But most industrialized nations, including the United States, are almost entirely dependent on foreign sources for those metals. The only way this is going to change is if there is more domestic exploration and mining, a leading expert says.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
A straightforward new way to calculate, compile, and graphically present solar radiation measurements in a format that is accessible to decision makers and the general public has been developed.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Physicists have discovered a new way of harvesting waste heat and turning it into electrical power. Taking advantage of quantum effects, the technology holds great promise for making cars, power plants, factories and solar panels more efficient.