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Darren Quick

Electronics

"Covert contacts" enable more efficient solar cell design

You've probably noticed that solar panels sitting on people's roofs appear to be broken up into grids. These grid lines are actually metal contacts and, although they're necessary for conducting the electrical current generated by the underlying semiconductor, they reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the semiconductor layer. Now researchers at Stanford University have developed a way to make these reflective metal contacts almost invisible to incoming light, thereby increasing solar panel efficiency.Read More

Biology

Tomato growth boosted with a spray of nanoparticles

Fans of The Simpsons may recall Lisa using genetic engineering to create a super tomato that she hoped would cure world hunger. Now researchers at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) have come close to the real thing, not through genetic engineering, but with the use of nanoparticles. Although the individual fruit aren't as large as Lisa's creation, the team's approach has resulted in tomato plants that produced almost 82 percent more fruit by weight, with the fruit also boasting higher antioxidant content.Read More

Biology

"Magic" native Australian tobacco plant could be key to space-based food production

Scientists at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia have discovered a gene in an ancient Australian native tobacco plant that they say is the key to growing crops in space. The plant, Nicotiana benthamiana, has long been used in labs around the world to test viruses and vaccines due to the fact it has no immune system. Surprisingly, this trait has also led to the plant being extremely resilient, which is where space-based food production comes in.Read More

Good Thinking

Glowing fingerprints to highlight criminals

Fingerprinting powders are still the go-to tool for investigators, both real and fictional. However, instead of oils, some fingerprints only leave a residue of amino acids and other compounds that fingerprinting powder doesn't adhere to very well. A new technique developed at Australia's CSIRO not only reveals fingerprints in cases where dusting won't, but makes them glow under UV light.Read More

Automotive

Garmin babyCam merges GPS navigation and back seat video monitoring

Cameras have made it easy for drivers to keep a recording of the road ahead and reverse without craning their necks around. Now Garmin is letting drivers more easily keep an eye on the back seat with its new babyCam. While in-vehicle video monitors aren’t new, Garmin’s is the first to work in conjunction with an existing GPS navigator display – as long as it’s one of the compatible models from Garmin.Read More

Aircraft

Airbus A350-900ULR to fly world’s longest commercial passenger route

Any masochists who think spending just under 17 hours on a flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Sydney just isn’t long enough are set to get a chance to test their endurance further. Airbus is to supply Singapore Airlines with seven Ultra-Long Range versions of its A350-900 that can fly for up to 19 hours non-stop, allowing the airline to relaunch direct flights between Singapore and the US, including New York.Read More

Aircraft

Onward and very much upward after Perlan Mission II's maiden flight

The Perlan Mission II glider, which is designed to fly higher than the U-2 spy plane and SR-71 Blackbird, has made its maiden flight. The aircraft separated from its towplane at an altitude of 5,000 feet above Roberts Field at Redmond Municipal Airport in Oregon, but is expected to go much higher next year when it makes a world altitude record attempt to the edge of space.Read More

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