Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Sunlight

The UVeBand is a UVA and UVB-measuring wrist band, that vibrates when it's time to apply m...

If you spend much time outdoors in the summer, then you doubtless know how important it is to wear sunscreen. That said, you probably also know that just applying it once before you first go outside isn’t good enough – for sufficient protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, periodic reapplications are also necessary. The UVeBand is a new wearable device, that’s designed to let you know when it’s time for those reapplications.  Read More

The 20-meter (65.6-ft) solar sail and boom system, developed by L'Garde Inc. of Tustin, Ca...

NASA is getting ready to ride the “winds” of space on sails lighter than gossamer, yet large enough to cover a small field. The space agency’s Solar Sail Demonstration, also known as the Sunjammer Project, may launch as early as 2014 when it will send the largest solar sail yet built into orbit, to demonstrate the technical viability of the device.  Read More

Toyota's F 'Ciel' Vitz is one of the models using Asahi's new tempered glass, that offers ...

As prolonged exposure to sunlight increasingly becomes a health hazard, causing skin problems and even cancer, automakers have started to incorporate glass that blocks harmful ultraviolet light. Japan's Asahi Glass Co (AGC) has added to its portfolio a new line of tempered front window glass called UV Verre Premium Cool on, which it says is the first of its kind to block about 99 percent of ultraviolet radiation, along with infrared (IR) rays.  Read More

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

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