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Light

An experimental energy-saving streetlight system automatically dims the lights when no peo...

Of all the energy-saving tips out there, probably the one we hear most often is to not leave lights on when we leave a room. It’s good advice, yet cities around the world are not following it in one key way – their streetlights stay on all night long, even when no one is on the street. The Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology is experimenting with a new streetlight system on its campus, however, in which motion sensor-equipped streetlights dim to 20 percent power when no people or moving vehicles are near them. The system is said to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 80 percent, plus it lowers maintenance costs and reduces light pollution.  Read More

A newly-developed optical amplifier is said to allow fiber optic signals to travel four ti...

As the amount of information being electronically shuttled around the planet continues to grow, so does the need for effective means of relaying it. The use of optical fibers has definitely helped in that regard, although thanks to a recent breakthrough at Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology, optical fiber signals may soon be able to travel four times farther than they are presently able to. Researchers there have created an optical amplifier, capable of amplifying light while maintaining a relatively noise-free signal.  Read More

Huey the Color Copying Chameleon Lamp identifies any color that it's placed on, then glows...

Suppose you just love the sage green color of your new desk blotter, and think “If only I could instantly make my whole office this color.” Well, now you can ... sort of. The designers over at ThinkGeek have created a gizmo called Huey the Color Copying Chameleon Lamp, that automatically “reads” any color that it’s placed upon, then glows in that color.  Read More

A new discovery by U-M researchers could see energy from the sun harnessed without solar c...

It has long been thought that, even though light has electric and magnetic components, the effects of the magnetic field are so weak that they could effectively be ignored. Now researchers at the University of Michigan (U-M) have discovered that under the right conditions, a light field can generate magnetic effects that are 100 million times stronger than previously expected. The researchers say the discovery paves the way for the creation of an "optical battery" that could harness power from the sun without the use of solar cells.  Read More

Scientists have created a new type of fiber optic cable with a zinc selenide core, that is...

Fiber optic cables can transmit over a terabyte of information per second – but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t room for improvement. One of those improvements, which was officially announced today, involves replacing the silica glass core of fiber optic strands with semiconductive zinc selenide. This new class of fiber optics, invented and created at Penn State University, is said to “allow for a more effective and liberal manipulation of light.” The technology could have applications in the fields of medicine, defense, and environmental monitoring.  Read More

In the anti-laser, incoming light waves are trapped in a cavity where they bounce back and...

Much to the distaste of James Bond villains everywhere, scientists from Yale University recently demonstrated not a new, more powerful type of laser, but actually its opposite – the world’s first anti-laser. The device receives incoming beams of light, which interfere with one another in such a way as to cancel each other out. It could apparently have valuable applications in a number of technologies, such as optical computing and radiology.  Read More

HyperSolar intends to produce a thin, flat, clear solar concentrator, that could boost the...

Solar cells are the most expensive part of a solar panel, so it would follow that if panels could produce the same amount of electricity with less cells, then their prices would come down. In order for panels to be able to do so using existing cell technology, however, they would need to get more light to the fewer cells that they still had. Mounting the panels on the end of vertical poles to get them closer to the sun is one possible approach, that might work in the town of Bedrock or on Gilligan’s Island. A better idea, though, is to apply a clear layer of solar concentrators to the surface of a panel – and that’s just what HyperSolar intends to do.  Read More

We might someday be using glowing trees as streetlights thanks to a discovery by Dr. Yen-H...

The discovery that gold nanoparticles can induce luminescence in leaves has opened up the prospect of using roadside trees as streetlights. Post-doctor Yen-Hsun Su of Research Center for Applied Science (RCAS), Academia Sinica, Taiwan, implanted gold nanoparticles into Bacopa caroliniana plants and found that, when exposed to high wavelength ultraviolet light, the gold nanoparticles can produce a blue-violet fluorescence that triggers a red emission of the surrounding chlorophyll.  Read More

Transmission electron microscope image of nano LEDs emitting light (all images courtesy ...

Chemists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have stumbled upon a way of producing light from nanowires. While they were refining a method for producing horizontally-grown wires across a substrate, Babak Nikoobakht and Andrew Herzing electrically charged an array of junctions between two materials and caused illumination to occur. The pair hope to further refine the technique so that these nano LEDs can be applied in the development of light sources and detectors useful in photonic devices or lab-on-a-chip platforms.  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

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