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— Science

New record efficiency for quantum-dot photovoltaics

Flexible, inexpensive, large-area, lightweight solar cells are difficult to produce as they require an inert atmosphere and high temperatures, and they often degrade in a short time after exposure to air. Researchers at MIT, however, have used a new method to craft solar cells from ultra-thin layers of quantum dots in a process that promises to avoid these problems, and at room temperature. At the same time, they have also set a new record of nine percent for the most efficient quantum-dot solar cells produced to date. Read More
— Electronics

Four-junction, four-terminal stacked solar cell hits 43.9 percent efficiency

The ultimate goal of solar cell technology is to be able to generate electricity at costs lower than sources such as coal, natural gas and nuclear. Key to this is continuing improvements in conversion efficiency, and with the development of the first four-junction, four-terminal stacked solar cell produced using a micro transfer printing process, researchers have taken another step towards this goal by achieving efficiencies of up to 43.9 percent, with the possibility of exceeding 50 percent in the near future. Read More
— Environment

Solar Roadways installs energy harvesting parking lot

About 8 years ago, an electrical engineer and his counselor wife started throwing around an idea to replace asphalt on highways and byways throughout the US with electricity-producing solar panels that were tough enough to be driven upon. The idea blossomed into a project, where the panels featured built-in LEDs that could "paint the road" with markings and warnings, and could be heated to prevent snow and ice build up. The US Federal Highway Administration paid for the couple to produce a working prototype, which they did, and then again to expand the concept into an operational parking lot setup. As the latter contract comes to an end, the Solar Roadways project has released photos of the (almost) completed installation at its Idaho electronics lab. Now the team is dipping into crowd-funding waters with a campaign to raise funds for the move into commercial production. Read More
— Mobile Technology

Tag Heuer's Meridiist Infinite phone offers "infinite" power via a solar panel

In 2008, Tag Heuer introduced its first mobile phone, the US$6,200 Meridiist. Well, as if a luxury phone made by a company usually associated with premium watches isn't eyebrow-raising enough, the just-announced Meridiist Infinite offers a little something extra: a built-in photovoltaic panel that keeps it powered up and charging as long as there's light. Read More
— Good Thinking

Panasonic's Power Supply Container: A solar power plant in a box

In an effort to bring reliable electricity supplies to emerging regions and remote island communities, Panasonic has developed an expandable, portable, self-contained photovoltaic system. The "Power Supply Container" comes equipped with 12 of Panasonic's HIT240 solar modules on the roof and generates approximately 3 kW of electricity, with 24 lead-acid batteries capable of storing 17.2 kWh of energy used to store excess electricity. Read More
— Automotive

Enzo Ferrari Museum reopens to the public in Modena

The re-worked red brick house in Modena is no different than most other 19th century residences in the Italian motoring villa. That the unassuming space was the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari was previously only communicated to persons on the street by a simple sign reading, “Officina Meccanica Alfredo Ferrari.” But now a new contemporary gallery dedicated to Ferrari’s founder has reopened to the public and showcases some of his company's finest vintage works. Read More
— Architecture

Orchid House concept inspired by Taiwan's greenhouse technologies

In high-density areas like the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, people have long looked to expand vertically to make use of the limited land, resulting in a lack of vegetation, high humidity and high energy usage. According to Unicode, a team of Taiwanese architects and designers, 50 percent of the county's housing constructions are either common multiple-story rowhouses or larger duplex apartment buildings, many of which have illegal makeshift shelters on their rooftops to provide extra living space. Unicode has developed a concept house which would give these shelters a greenhouse-inspired makeover, shifting reliance to renewable energy sources and improving Taipei's sustainability in the process. Read More
— Electronics

Tungsten diselenide shows potential for ultrathin, flexible, semi-transparent solar cells

Graphene, the two-dimensional lattice of carbon atoms, may be the wonder material du jour, but ultrathin layers of other elements are also proving to be an exciting area of research. One-atom-thick sheets of germanium and tin have shown potential as semiconductors and a topological insulators respectively, and now ultrathin layers of tungsten and selenium have been used to create a diode that could be used in ultrathin, flexible, semi-transparent solar cells. Read More
— Architecture

Solar-panel skin could make Dutch homes energy neutral

Around 60 percent of the homes in the Netherlands are row house terraces, with around a quarter of those built in the post-war period. While these constructions characterize much of the Dutch urban landscape, they weren't exactly built with energy efficiency as their first priority. A team of Delft University students has developed a concept for a solar-powered skin designed to optimize energy usage, while also preserving this classic Dutch architecture. Read More