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Sunlight

Rice University graduate student Oara Neumann (left) and scientist Naomi Halas are co-auth...

A team of researchers at Rice University has developed a new technology that uses light-absorbing nanoparticles to convert solar energy directly into steam. Even though it is already significantly more efficient than solar panels at producing electricity, the technology will likely find its first applications in low-cost sanitation, water purification and human waste treatment for the developing world.  Read More

The small prototype device created by researchers at EPFL

As scientists endeavor to increase the efficiency of solar panels, the challenge of storing the resultant energy cheaply and in an environmentally responsible way must also be met. To this end, researchers at Switzerland’s École polytechnique fédérale de Lausann (EPFL) have developed an inexpensive device that transforms light energy into hydrogen, for storage and later use. The new prototype makes use of sunlight, water, and metal oxides, including iron oxide – or rust.  Read More

Studio Gang's Solar Carve Tower (Image courtesy of Studio Gang Architects)

Studio Gang Architects has unveiled an unusual scheme for a 213-ft (65-meter) tower to be be built directly next to New York's High Line, the elevated park converted from a former rail line. Studio Gang's Solar Carve Tower is named for its unusual tapered design which shaves away corners of an otherwise cuboid tower form. The shape is designed to minimize the tower as an obstruction to direct sunlight en route to the High Line.  Read More

The Solar Bag can be carried like a satchel for easier transport and will begin to purify ...

Lack of access to clean water causes the deaths of millions of people worldwide and in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, clean water can be several days walk away. Producing a simple and cheap method of purifying water which doesn’t rely on first-world amenities such as a steady electricity supply, or batteries, has proven a significant challenge thus far, but a new prototype device created by Ryan Lynch and Marcus Triest offers hope of doing just this, for an estimated cost of around US$5.  Read More

A plastic garden furniture armrest without (left) and with (right) a self-cleaning photoca...

For many people, the onset of warmer weather can mean pulling out the ol' scrubbing brush and getting to work on the slimy film of moss, algae, fungi and bacteria that has built up on the garden furniture over the colder months. But we may soon be able to say goodbye to this tiresome chore thanks to researchers at Fraunhofer who are developing coatings that would be activated by the sun’s rays to destroy organic substances attaching themselves to various surfaces.  Read More

Fraunhofer researchers have developed a window coating (not pictured) that lets in more li...

With many of us spending more and more time indoors, it can be a struggle to get the amount of sunlight our bodies crave. Modern heat-insulating, sun-protection glazing doesn’t help, as it reflects a noticeable percentage of the incident sunlight in the part of the spectrum that governs our hormonal balance. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research (ISC) have developed a coating for windows that lets in more light, in particular those wavelengths of light that have a beneficial effect on our sense of well-being.  Read More

Scientists have successfully used gallium indium phosphide solar cells to generate electri...

Although solar cells are proving indispensable for powering things such as electronic sensors on dry land, sensors located underwater have typically had to rely on batteries, or electricity piped in from photovoltaic panels situated above the surface. That could be changing, however, as scientists from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory have recently developed functioning underwater solar cells.  Read More

The Sunflower is a heliostat designed for residential use

Some people have a cool, gloomy room in their house that receives little if any direct sunlight, even though it has a window. Should you be one of those people, and you want to save electricity, perhaps a home heliostat is what you need. Heliostats are motorized mirrored devices that move to compensate for the changing angle of the Sun as it moves across the sky, reflecting its rays onto a fixed target such as a window, photovoltaic panel, or solar oven. While almost all commercially-available heliostats are aimed at industrial users, Massachusetts-based company Wikoda is now offering what it claims is the world's only heliostat designed and priced for residential use.  Read More

A scanning electron microscope image of a single layer of the nanocrystalline-silicon nano...

For those unfamiliar with the term, a “whispering gallery” is a round room designed in such a way that sound is carried around its perimeter – this allows a person standing on one side to hear words whispered by a person on the other. Now, scientists from Stanford University have developed a new type of photovoltaic material, that essentially does for sunlight what whispering galleries do for sound. Not only does the material have a structure that circulates light entering it, but it could also result in cheaper, less fragile, and less angle-sensitive solar panels.  Read More

Atelier Thomas Pucher's stunning 'Garden and the Tower' concept makes a dramatic statement...

"Garden and the Tower" is Atelier Thomas Pucher's winning design for the headquarters of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to be built in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The design is envisaged as "a global sign, made of light." The tower, very much the centerpiece of the design, will have a textile skin which, if we understand the design intent, will not only let sunlight and daylight in by day (an environmentally friendly way of illuminating the interior) but intentionally let artificial light out by night, to dramatic effect should the visualizations prove remotely accurate. The designers' approach to managing heat gain suggests that there's beauty in the function too.  Read More

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