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Scientists are trying to boost the amount of sunlight that gets down to urban alleys (Phot...

Everyone knows that downtown alleyways are dark at night, but even in the daytime, shadows cast by the tall buildings on either side can make them quite gloomy. While that might not matter much for little-used alleys, it's certainly a factor in cities where people live and work in them. That's why researchers from Egypt's Ain Shams University are developing a new type of panel that diverts sunlight from buildings' roofs down into the alleyways beside them.  Read More

Artist's concept of the Kepler space telescope (Image: NASA)

Last year, it looked as though the Kepler space probe had nothing to look forward to but the scrap heap. After the failure of two of its reaction wheels, the unmanned spacecraft was incapable of maintaining the precision pointing needed to hunt planets beyond the Solar System. Now, however, NASA’s Kepler team has demonstrated that space telescope can still detect exoplanets thanks the K2 mission concept maneuver.  Read More

This image shows two electrodes connected via an external voltage source splitting water i...

Photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells can use sunlight to sustainably split water into hydrogen and oxygen, but efficient PEC materials tend to corrode rapidly in use. A Stanford research group has been studying this problem, and has found that depositing a thin layer of nickel atoms on a silicon PEC electrode allows it to operate for over 80 hours with no sign of corrosion.  Read More

SmartLight could direct light from outside (far right), through a building, and to a centr...

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have developed technology that could help cut lighting energy costs by brightening up rooms with natural light. The SmartLight system is designed to direct sunlight into dark, dingy rooms located within the bowels of buildings without requiring the installation of new wiring, ducts, tubes or cables. It also allows excess light to be harnessed and centrally stored to provide energy for electric lighting on cloudy days.  Read More

The SOL is a Ubuntu laptop equipped with a detachable solar panel, which the developers cl...

In the Western world, we tend to take for granted some pretty basic amenities, like reliable electricity. For people living in those corners of the globe where electricity can be scarce, WeWi Telecommunications, Inc. has developed the SOL, a rugged laptop that doesn't rely on a power socket to stay charged. The Ubuntu Linux-powered computer is instead equipped with a detachable solar panel, which the developers claim will provide up to 10 hours of battery life after just two hours in the sun.  Read More

Artist's conception of a commercial hydrogen production plant that uses sunlight to split ...

A new technique developed by a University of Colorado Boulder team converts sunshine and water directly into usable fuel. The technique involves concentrating sunlight in a solar tower to achieve temperatures high enough to drive chemical reactions that split water into its constituent oxygen and hydrogen molecules. In this way, the team says it should be able to cheaply produce massive amounts of hydrogen fuel.  Read More

Rice University graduate student Oara Neumann, left, and scientist Naomi Halas with their ...

Last year, researchers at Rice University revealed a new way to convert solar energy directly into steam using light-absorbing nanoparticles. At that time, the technology had already been used to create a solar steam-powered autoclave for sterilizing medical and dental equipment and the project had been awarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to turn the technology to the task of sanitizing human waste. The researchers have now put both applications to the test.  Read More

The SunSocket uses mono-crystalline solar panels

To get the most out of solar panels they need to be facing the right way. Systems that track the sun are often used in large solar power stations and some larger home installations, but most flat panels for portable applications just lie there. Colorado-based Aspect Solar has come up with the SunSocket Solar Generator, a lightweight, portable, self-contained solar power system consisting of a battery and solar panels that brings the advantages of automatically tracking the Sun to small applications.  Read More

This is what you do when you're testing solar-powered gadgets in a tree-filled neighborhoo...

Introduced early last year, the Waka Waka lamp is a solar-powered LED light designed for use both in first-world campsites and third-world homes. Towards the end of the year, the Waka Waka Foundation followed up on the lamp’s success with a similar product, known as Waka Waka Power. It not only provides light, but can also be used to charge up your electronic gadgets. We recently had a chance to try one out ... during sunny breaks in an otherwise very wet and cloudy June.  Read More

A newly-developed roof panel both reflects sunlight, and emits heat drawn from the buildin...

Studies have already shown us how white-painted roofs can help cool buildings by reflecting sunlight, while "green" roofs beat the heat by blocking sunlight and providing a source of evaporative cooling. Now, a team of scientists from Stanford University have created a panel that not only reflects sunlight, but it also draws heat from within the building and emits it into outer space.  Read More

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