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Environment

Researchers develop cheap and easy to mass-produce "solar-paint"

A team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana is reporting the creation of a "solar paint" that could mark an important milestone on the road to widespread implementation of renewable energy technology. Although the new material is still a long way off the conversion efficiencies of commercial silicon solar cells, the researchers say it is cheap to make and can be produced in large quantities.Read More

Holiday Destinations

The first plus-energy hotel in the Swiss Alps

The Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl located in Switzerland has recently been awarded the highly-coveted Swiss Solar Award 2011, Milestone 2011 Tourism Award and the PlusEnergieBau (PEB) Solar Award 2011, the only prize in the world for buildings that generate more energy than they consume. The 104-year old Berghotel underwent extensive renovations during 2010 to transform it into an environmental-friendly location, giving rise to the first plus-energy hotel in the Alps. The hotel's recent success demonstrates that luxury accommodation can be implemented within the framework of a plus-energy building concept even at 2,456 meters (8,058 ft) above sea level.Read More

Electronics

Self-healing electronics may result in less expensive, longer-lasting devices

A hard material is impregnated with microcapsules that burst when the material cracks, releasing a stored liquid that hardens on contact with the air, thus repairing the crack ... it’s a system that we’ve recently seen used in a number of applications, including self-healing concrete and polymers. Now, a research team from the University of Illinois is applying it to electronics. They have already created a system that automatically restores conductivity to a cracked circuit in just a fraction of a second.Read More

Science

Alternative tech could lead to cheaper fuel cells

While fuel cells show a lot of promise for cleanly powering things such as electric cars, there’s something keeping them from being more widely used than they currently are – they can be expensive. More specifically, the catalysts used to accelerate the chemical processes within them tend to be pricey. Work being done at Finland’s Aalto University, however, should help bring down the cost of fuel cells. Using atomic layer deposition (ALD), researchers there are making cells that incorporate 60 percent less catalyst material than would normally be required.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

New plasma "brush" may mean painless cavity filling

We've been keeping an eye on efforts to make the dreaded dentist's drill a thing of the past for some time, and now there's more good news on the horizon for the cavity-prone (and pain-phobic). Engineers at the University of Missouri (MU) in conjunction with Nanova, Inc. have successfully lab-tested a plasma "brush" that can painlessly clean and prep cavities so well, there's no need for mechanical abrasion prior to filling. The really good news is that human clinical trials begin soon and, if all goes well, the device could hit dentist's offices as soon as late 2013.Read More

Good Thinking

MIT database could revolutionize materials research

Remember what it was like in the days before the internet, if you were trying to find out something specific? If you wanted know what flounders eat, for instance, you would have to physically go to the library, look up “marine biology” in the card catalogue, find the appropriate books in the stacks, look up “flounder” in their indexes – and even then, you might not find what you were looking for. It was certainly a lot more work than just typing in “flounder diet” on Google. Well, materials research so far has been kind of like that pre-Google era, in that scientists have had to spend months conducting research in order to determine how different compounds will react with one another. With the launch of MIT’s Materials Project website, however, it looks like that could be about to change.Read More

Science

Sony demos paper-fueled battery

We've heard of gadgets being powered by some pretty crazy stuff, but how about paper? Sony recently showed off a new bio-cell battery that breaks down paper in order to create power. A paper battery sounds a little bit far-fetched, but the technology works, and could potentially change how we power devices in the future. So how does it work? The process starts with an enzyme suspended in water. When paper is dropped in, the enzyme starts to break it down and produce glucose that can then be harvested and used to power a battery. Sony described the break down process as similar to how a termite might eat and break down wood.Read More

Science

First Earth-size planets discovered beyond our solar system

NASA has discovered the first earth-size planets outside of our solar system. The discovery was made as part of NASA's Kepler mission and involves the discovery of two planets currently named after the project: Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f. If the Kepler name sounds familiar, that's because NASA also recently announced the discovery of Kepler-22b, the most Earth-like planet discovered to date. Kepler 22b is orbiting a star similar to our sun, and is capable of possessing liquid water, an essential feature for life to exist on a planet.Read More

Games

Embattled Sony denies PlayStation Vita launch issues

Four days on from Saturday's PlayStation Vita launch, a murky picture is emerging in the press of an embattled Sony eager to make amends for technical difficulties with their next generation handheld games console, including inoperative touch-screens and system crashes. However, Sony today denies widespread technical issues. Read More

Computers

Deonet announces world's smallest USB memory stick

Just when you think that USB Flash storage can't possibly get any smaller, a company pops up with something so tiny that you're going to need the corded fob to make sure you don't lose it. Dutch promotional product manufacturer Deonet - maker of a diamond-studded Golden USB memory stick and an FSC-certified, maple-enclosed Eco Wood drive - has announced just such a portable storage solution, and is the latest to claim the title of the world's smallest USB stick.Read More

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