Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Efficiency

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

A small PETE device made with cesium-coated gallium nitride glows while being tested insid...

Photovoltaic solar cells convert light energy from the sun into electricity. Although significant strides have been made in increasing the efficiency of photovoltaic technology, they usually only result in incremental increases. Researchers at Stanford University have come up with a way that could more than double the efficiency of existing solar cell technology and potentially reduce the costs of solar energy production enough for it to compete with oil as an energy source. Instead of relying solely on photons, the new process, called “photon enhanced thermionic emission,” or PETE, simultaneously combines the light and heat of solar radiation to generate electricity.  Read More

The Zap Alias is one of just nine vehicles left in the Automotive X PRIZE

Well, it’s hard to believe the day is finally here, but the on-track testing phase of the Automotive X PRIZE Finals stage is finally over. Of 136 vehicles representing 111 teams that originally entered the competition, just 9 vehicles representing 7 teams remain. All that the cars need to do now is pass the Validation stage, then the winners will be announced in September. Here’s a quick look at what happened over the past few days, at the Michigan International Speedway.  Read More

Cornell Ranger gets a walking buddy in Fatemeh Hasaneini, a daughter of one of the student...

It might not have been setting a cracking pace, but a Cornell University robot named Ranger set an unofficial world record on July 6 when it walked 14.3 miles in about 11 hours on a single charge. The untethered, four-legged robot was steered around the 1/8-mile indoor track in Cornell’s Barton Hall by a human operator using a standard toy remote control some 108.5 times. On its record setting journey Ranger made 65,185 steps, beating the former record for an untethered legged robot of 12.8 miles set by Boston Dynamics’ BigDog.  Read More

SunPower Corp. has achieved a world record solar cell efficiency of 24.2 percent

Although we’ve seen sunlight to electricity conversion efficiencies of over 40 percent with multi-junction solar cells in lab environments, most mass-produced cells can only boast a conversion rate of around 15 percent. Now SunPower Corp., a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar power systems, has claimed a new world record solar cell efficiency of 24.2 percent.  Read More

The Niagara Stealth Toilet

First things first – yes, with a name like the Stealth Toilet, it should be matte black, not glossy white. It gets its name, however, from the fact that it flushes very quietly. More importantly, it could also be considered stealthy because conventional radar will barely be able to detect the amount of water it uses - at just 0.8 gallons per flush, it is touted as the world’s most efficient toilet.  Read More

First green LED means a lighting revolution is fast approaching

When scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) tried to apply their expertise in solar cell technology to build a green LED light from the ground up, they surprisingly centered the objective at their very first try. In doing so they solved a long-standing technological problem and paved the way for the large-scale employment of white LEDs for public and domestic illumination over the course of the next few years.  Read More

Researchers from North Carolina's State University have come up with a way to break up pro...

For some programs, the arrival of multi-core processing power has made little difference to how they operate. Some applications, such as word processors and web browsers, are unable to split process operation over a number of cores and instead pile everything onto just one. Researchers from North Carolina's State University have come up with a way to break up such programs into different threads, resulting in a 20 percent increase in run speed.  Read More

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