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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

Researchers have developed a coating for fabric, that could be used to clean clothing simp...

For some time now, we’ve been hearing about the benefits of drying our laundry outside on the clothesline. We save money and energy by not running the dryer, the sunlight kills germs, and we don’t run the risk of generating harmful dryer emissions. In the future, however, we might also end up washing our clothes by hanging them outside – scientists in China have successfully used sunlight to remove orange dye stains from cotton fabric, that was treated with a special coating.  Read More

Inkodye is a light-sensitive dye that can be used to create self-developing images on fabr...

Inkodye is a chemical solution designed for people who are passionate about photography. After all, who else would want to emblazon a T-shirt, ribbon, or a handkerchief with images based on photo negatives? The process is reportedly quite easy, and requires just a dozen or so minutes of sunlight exposure.  Read More

The photovoltaic panels and concrete panels (background) being used in the experimental so...

When it comes to keeping airport runways clear of ice, there are several options, including the use of chemical, thermal, electric and microwave technologies. All of these methods can be expensive, as they require either a considerable amount of electricity, or a number of human workers. Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas, however, are developing a new system that would use the freely-available power of the Sun to keep runways from freezing up.  Read More

The Valkee is a device that its makers claim can treat seasonal affective disorder, by shi...

Many readers in the Northern Hemisphere are likely already starting to experience seasonal affective disorder, appropriately enough known as SAD. For those people fortunate enough not to be familiar with it, SAD is a mood disorder that is brought on by the shorter day-length experienced in winter – less sunlight results in gloomier people. One of the most common treatments involves regular exposure to bright artificial lights, that appear to psychologically serve the same purpose as sunlight. Now, one might assume that such light therapy would require that people see the light. According to the Finnish designers of the Valkee device, however, light also does the trick if you shine it up your ears.  Read More

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