Colin discovered technology at an early age, pulling apart clocks, radios, and the family TV. Despite his father's remonstrations that he never put anything back together, Colin went on to become an electronics engineer. Later he decided to get a degree in anthropology, and used that to do all manner of interesting things masquerading as work. Even later he took up sculpting, moved to the coast, and never learned to surf.
The use of sunlight as an energy source is achieved in a number of ways, from conversion to electricity via photovoltaic (PV) panels, concentrated heat to drive steam turbines, and even hydrogen generation via artificial photosynthesis. Unfortunately, much of the light energy in PV and photosynthesis systems is lost as heat due to the thermodynamic inefficiencies inherent in the process of converting the incoming energy from one form to another. Now scientists working at the University of Bayreuth claim to have created a super-efficient light-energy transport conduit that exhibits almost zero loss, and shows promise as the missing link in the sunlight to energy conversion process.
As the world moves towards developing new avenues of renewable energy, the efficiencies of producing fuels such as hydrogen must increase to the point that they rival or exceed those of conventional energy sources to make them a viable alternative. Now researchers at Monash University in Melbourne claim to have created a solar-powered device that produces hydrogen at a world-record 22 percent efficiency, which is a significant step towards making cheap, efficient hydrogen production a reality.
Lower limb exoskeletons show great promise in helping those who have lost the use of their legs to walk again. However, if a person has been rendered quadriplegic, any hand controls in such a device are essentially useless. To help address this and other whole-of-body disabilities, scientists working at Korea University (KU) and Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin), have created a hands-free brain-to-computer interface to control a lower limb exoskeleton by specifically decoding signals from the wearer’s brain.
electronics miniaturization heads towards a theoretical physical limit in the
tens of nanometers, new methods of manufacturing are required to produce
transistors, diodes, and other fundamental electronic components. In this vein, a new range of molecule-sized
devices have been created in the laboratory, though with varying results in
terms of efficiency and practicality. Now a group of researchers from Berkeley
Lab and Columbia University claims to have created the highest-performing,
single-molecule diode ever made, which is said to be 50 times better in
performance and efficiency than anything previously produced.
Amplifying light a few hundred times with magnifying lenses is easy.
Amplifying light by altering the resonant properties of light itself is a much
more difficult proposition. However, if recent research by engineers at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers is anything to go by, the effort is
well worth it: They claim to have constructed a nanoscale device that can emit
light as powerfully as an object more than 10,000 times its size.