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Ben Coxworth

Science

Nano-sandwich material claimed to boost solar cell efficiency by 175 percent

One of the main reasons that solar cells aren’t more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity is because much of that sunlight is reflected off the cell, or can’t be fully absorbed by it. A new sandwich-like material created by researchers at Princeton University, however, is claimed to dramatically address that problem – by minimizing reflection and increasing absorption, it reportedly boosts the efficiency of organic solar cells by 175 percent. Read More

Mr. Quicksplit makes kindling quick

If you don’t camp or have a fireplace, then you probably don’t know this, but ... making kindling can be darn difficult. A simple-but-clever new device known as Mr. Quicksplit, however, looks like it makes the process a lot easier. Read More

Marine

Electrolysis-based anti-biofouling system keeps hulls clean

Marine biofouling is the process in which organisms such as barnacles problematically colonize underwater surfaces. When it happens to the hulls of ships, the vessels become less hydrodynamic, having to burn more fuel in order to move through the water. Although hulls can be coated with paint that kills the offending organisms, that paint also releases toxic substances into the surrounding water. Now, however, scientists from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials have developed a more environmentally-friendly paint, that uses electrolysis to control biofouling.Read More

AnyGlove makes any glove touchscreen-friendly

It’s that time of year again, when those of us living in the higher latitudes are thwarted by our non-conductive gloves if we try to use touchscreen devices outdoors. Well, don’t bin those gloves just yet – a new product by the name of AnyGlove is claimed to be able to solve the problem.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Nanostructured fabric could protect women against pregnancy and HIV

While condoms are the only things that protect against both unwanted pregnancies and HIV, a lot of people aren’t big fans of stopping to put them on. Additionally, women are sometimes put in an awkward role, needing to pressure the man to use the thing – although female condoms certainly do exist, their bulkiness makes them rather unpopular. Now, however, a team of scientists from the University of Washington are working on a type of dissolvable fabric that could be used by women both for contraception and HIV protection.Read More

Science

Scientists copy structure of cork to produce 3D blocks of graphene

Imagine how limiting it would be if steel, wood or plastic only existed in the form of thin sheets. Well, that’s been the case so far when it comes to graphene. While its incredible strength and high conductivity make it very useful in things like semiconductors, batteries and solar cells, there’s no doubt that it would be even more useful if it could be produced in three-dimensional blocks. Scientists at Australia’s Monash University have now managed to do just that – by copying the structure of cork. Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Tattoo-based medical sensor puts a happy face on detecting metabolic problems

Next time you see an adult with a stick-on tattoo, don’t laugh – that person might have a metabolic problem, or they could be a high-performing athlete who’s getting their training schedule fine-tuned. No, really. A team lead by Dr. Joseph Wang at the University of California, San Diego, has created a thin, flexible metabolic sensor that is applied to the skin ... and it takes the form of a smiley-face tattoo.Read More

Military

Future military uniforms could automatically transform into hazmat suits

While there are already protective cover-all suits that offer protection against chemical and biological agents, it’s unrealistic to suggest that soldiers should carry such suits with them at all times, and hurriedly pull them on in the event of an attack. Instead, research teams from several institutions are developing something a little more practical – uniform fabric that automatically becomes impermeable to toxic substances, when it detects them in the area.Read More

Robotics

First of four autonomous Wave Glider robots successfully crosses Pacific ocean

Last November, a fleet of four small autonomous Wave Glider aquatic robots set out from San Francisco to sail across the Pacific ocean. They reached Hawaii this March, at which point they parted ways – as according to plan, one pair struck out for Japan, while the other two headed for Australia. Today, it was announced that the first of the two Australia-bound Wave Gliders has reached its destination, setting a new world record for the longest distance traveled by an autonomous vehicle.Read More
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