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NBBJ has previously designed buildings for Amazon, Google, and Samsung, but the company says that one of the most frequent complaints it received was that the workers felt they didn't have enough fine control over their working environment. With this in mind, the firm's boffins have created the Sunbreak, an intelligent automated sunshade prototype that's operated using a smartphone. Read More
Researchers working at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering claim to have produced a sponge-like substance that helps convert water to steam using sunlight one-hundredth as bright as that required by conventional steam-producing solar generators. A composite of graphite flakes layered on a bed of carbon foam, the new material is reported to convert as much as 85 percent of received solar energy into steam. Read More
For residents living in the north, where sunlight can be a rare commodity during the winter, a psychological condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder is a very real problem. Light therapy is one way to shake off the winter blues, and although artificial lighting solutions do exist, they are generally available as simple variations on traditional desk lamps. An Italian designer has developed CoeLux, a unique system that delivers artificial light through an intelligent false skylight. Read More
Artificially replicating the biological process of photosynthesis is a goal being sought on many fronts, and it promises to one day improve light-to-energy efficiencies of solar collection well beyond what's possible with photovoltaic cells. One of the first steps is to imitate the mechanisms at work in the transfer of energy from reception through to output. To this end, Scientists have recently experimented with a combination of biological and photonic quantum mechanical states to form new half-light half-matter particle, called the “polariton.” It could help realize fully synthetic systems by mimicking the energy transport systems of biological photosynthesis. Read More
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
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
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
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
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
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