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Photovoltaic

By using the light reflected from the object being recorded, researchers claim to have created a prototype video camera that could potentially record indefinitely under its own power. By incorporating energy-harvesting photodiodes within the pixels of its image-capture array, the new camera produces self-sustaining electrical power while simultaneously capturing video footage. Read More
Kyocera likes to position itself as a maker of smartphones that can go anywhere, with ruggedized, waterproof devices like the Bear Grylls-endorsed Brigadier. Building on that reputation, the company is showing a new solar-powered prototype that can also charge anywhere, so long as it's not too dark or cloudy. Read More
Solar cells don't at first glance have any relation to a tiny structure in the eye that makes our central vision sharp, but that tiny structure – called the fovea centralis – may be the key to a huge boost in solar cell efficiency. A team of scientists at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light took the underlying mechanisms that guide the fovea and adapted them to silicon as a surface for collecting light in solar cells. Read More
In January, the VTT Technical Centre of Finland unveiled its decorative, mass-producible organic photovoltaic (OPV) leaves designed to capture energy from interior lighting to power small devices and sensors. Now, the company has followed the logical path and come up with an energy-harvesting tree that generates electricity from a variety of sources. Read More
Solar cell efficiency has made significant strides in recent times, but cells are still far from their maximum theoretical efficiency, and part of the reason is that the semiconductors we use to build them don’t have ideal electrical properties. Researchers at Northwestern University have now found a way to tweak an important electrical feature of transition metal oxides, compounds commonly used as semiconductors, to build the optimal light-absorbing material for solar cells, lasers and photoelectrochemical cells. Read More
VTT Technical Centre of Finland is aiming to bring solar energy into the realm of interior design by developing a new method of printing both decorative graphics and functional components onto flexible organic solar panels. Read More
If you're trying to save power, you generally don't leave your lights on all night. With a few exceptions, however, that's what cities do with their streetlights. That's why some groups have developed streetlights with built-in solar panels. A Spanish team is now taking things a step farther, with a stand-alone streetlight that runs off of both solar and wind power. Read More
Wireless charging pads may be more convenient than traditional wired smartphone chargers, but a team from Microsoft Research in China thinks that they're still not convenient enough. According to Yunxin Liu, Zhen Qin and Chunshui Zhao, pads still require users to consciously place their phone in a specific spot, for the express purpose of charging. Instead, they envision a system in which users just toss their phone onto a table, where it's automatically charged using a beam of light. They've already built a working prototype of the system, which is known as AutoCharge. Read More
One can usually count on Vincent Callebaut to produce thought-provoking renders that depict futuristic sustainable architecture, and the Belgian architectural firm certainly doesn't disappoint with this vision of a smart and sustainable Paris. The recent proposal, titled 2050 Paris Smart City, envisions remaking the City of Light into a veritable City of Green. Read More
Desalination may one day prove the savior for regions of the world where clean drinking water is scarce, but current technology dictates that this process is often expensive and energy-intensive. The team behind the Desolenator has high hopes of delivering water security to those in need, with a mobile desalinator that runs purely on energy from the sun. Read More
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