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Efficiency

The OnPlug is essentially a single-outlet power bar, that keeps household electric devices...

Call it standby power, phantom power or vampire power, but the current drawn by various household electrical devices when they are supposedly “off” can account for up to ten percent of a home’s energy use. Fortunately, there are gizmos available that act as “middle men” between wall outlets and devices, completely shutting off the power supply when the devices are not in use. One of the newest is the OnPlug, which manages to come in at quite a low price point by avoiding the bells and whistles of similar products.  Read More

An antireflective film inspired by moth's eyes has been shown to improve the efficiency of...

In order for a solar cell to be as efficient as possible, the last thing it should be is reflective – after all, light should be getting absorbed by it, not being bounced off. With that in mind, a few years ago a group of Japanese scientists set out to create an antireflective film coating for use on solar cells. What they ended up creating utilizes the same principles that are at work in one of nature’s least reflective surfaces: moth’s eyes.  Read More

Johnson Controls' ie:3 demonstrator car is the company's showcase for new technologies in ...

Of the various vehicles that were displayed at this month’s Detroit Auto Show, undoubtedly the biggest crowds were drawn to the cars with the most striking exteriors – witness the Porsche 918 RSR, for instance. Given that we drive our cars from the inside, however, isn’t the interior what’s most important? That’s what Johnson Controls seems to believe, as its ie:3 demonstrator vehicle showcased a number of the company’s innovations for vehicle interiors. According to Michael Warsaw, Johnson’s VP of Industrial Design and Marketing for North America, “Everything that you’ll see in this vehicle is ready for the next generation of automobiles.”  Read More

Konarka's flexible and lightweight Power Plastic

While they offer much lower efficiencies than inorganic photovoltaic cells, organic solar cells are cheaper to produce and are lightweight and flexible. This makes them suitable for a wider range of applications than rigid solar cells, including clothing and bags. Konarka has been producing its organic based photovoltaic (OPV) solar cells under the name of Power Plastic for a number of years now and the National Energy Renewable Laboratory (NREL) has just announced that Konarka’s latest organic based photovoltaic (OPV) solar cells have demonstrated a record breaking 8.3 percent efficiency.  Read More

Schematic diagram of a thin film organic solar cell shows the top layer, a patterned, roug...

Research has already shown that at the nanoscale, chemistry is different and the same is apparently true for light, which Engineers at Stanford University say behaves differently at scales of around a nanometer. By creating solar cells thinner than the wavelengths of light the engineers say it is possible to trap the photons inside the solar cell for longer, increasing the chance they can get absorbed, thereby increasing the efficiency of the solar cell. In this way, they calculate that by properly configuring the thicknesses of several thin layers of films, an organic polymer thin film could absorb as much as 10 times more energy from sunlight than predicted by conventional theory.  Read More

When force is applied to the pedal, the stainless steel, triangular-shaped swinging mechan...

At first glance, a proposal to replace a bicycle's familiar chain and cog drive with one that uses string may sound like lunacy, but that's exactly what's been done to produce the Stringbike. The system features freewheel mechanisms on either side of the rear wheel connected by polyethylene rope to a precisely positioned, symmetrical swinging arm that drives the bicycle forward. When the unit on the right is driving the bike forward, the other is being returned to its starting position and vice-versa which is said to result in greater efficiency and makes for a more comfortable, easier ride.  Read More

Researchers at UCSD have figured out a way to harness the unused transistors in a chip to ...

Adopting a new, highly automated and reconfigurable approach to hardware acceleration, researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have come up with a way to harness the unused silicon real estate in smartphones – the so-called "dark silicon" – as special-purpose processors dynamically optimized to perform the most common tasks in an efficient way.  Read More

The coupling of evanescence waves is key to obtaining higher-efficiency LEDs

One of the biggest challenges in creating a better light-emitting diode (LED) is the search for a way to efficiently extract the light generated in the semiconductor device into the surrounding air, while avoiding the internal light reflection that is cause for a considerable waste of energy. A team of Japanese researchers have recently managed to achieve just that, in what is believed to be a huge step toward significantly more energy-efficient LEDs.  Read More

Researchers from the University of Michigan have unveiled a more efficient, brighter and h...

Only a small percentage of backlight actually makes its way out through the multiple layers that make up the ubiquitous LCD displays we use today. That may change with the development of new filter technology at the University of Michigan. White light is sent through tiny, precisely spaced gaps on nano-thin sheets of aluminum and is said to result in brighter, higher definition color reproduction. Other benefits of the technology include efficiency gains and simpler manufacturing.  Read More

ROCR features a tail that swings like a grandfather clock’s pendulum (Image: William Pro...

Engineers have used a variety of techniques to create robots that can scale walls – “the Climber” uses a rolling seal, while the insect-like robots from SRI have caterpillar tracks with electro-adhesive properties. While such robots generally focus on speed, adhering to the wall and deciding how and when to move, the creators of a small robot named ROCR say it is the first wall-climbing robot to focus on climbing efficiently. And it does so by using the momentum of a tail that swings like a grandfather clock’s pendulum.  Read More

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