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Photovoltaic

Environment

Kirigami-inspired solar cells twist to track the sun

One of the challenges facing designers of traditional flat solar panels is the fact that the sun doesn't conveniently stay in one place. This means that in order for a panel to receive as much sunlight as possible, it has to pan with the sun as it moves across the sky. While there are motorized assemblies designed to do just that, they add complexity, weight and expense to photovoltaic systems. Now, however, University of Michigan scientists have developed a simpler alternative – and it's based on the ancient Japanese cut-paper art of kirigami.Read More

Automotive

Immortus solar sports car to offer unlimited range on sunny days

If you’ve ever scanned the comments section on an electric car or bike article, you’ll be familiar with this complaint: "that’s not green, it’s just a coal-powered vehicle." Well, not this one. The Immortus is an electric car built to generate its own power through some 7 sq m (75 sq ft) of solar photovoltaic paneling. You can charge its battery off the mains if you have to, but if conditions are sunny, the inbuilt solar panels alone will let you drive at more than 60 km/h (37 mph) for an unlimited distance.Read More

Digital Cameras

Video camera could record indefinitely, powered only by light from the image it captures

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

Environment

Eyes inspire more efficient solar cell architecture

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

Electronics

New technique could produce the ideal light-absorbing material for solar cells

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

Mobile Technology

Prototype Microsoft system uses indoor light to wirelessly charge phones

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

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