Introducing the Gizmag Store

Sunlight

Associate Professor Michael Strano (left) with graduate student Ardemis Boghossian and pos...

One of the problems with harvesting sunlight and converting it into stored energy is that the sun’s rays can be highly destructive to many materials, leading to a gradual degradation of many systems developed to do just that. Once again, researchers have turned to nature for a solution. Plants constantly break down their light-capturing molecules and reassemble them from scratch, so the basic structures that capture the sun’s energy are, in effect, always brand new. By imitating this strategy MIT scientists have created a novel set of self-assembling molecules and used them to create a photovoltaic cell that repairs itself.  Read More

A small PETE device made with cesium-coated gallium nitride glows while being tested insid...

Photovoltaic solar cells convert light energy from the sun into electricity. Although significant strides have been made in increasing the efficiency of photovoltaic technology, they usually only result in incremental increases. Researchers at Stanford University have come up with a way that could more than double the efficiency of existing solar cell technology and potentially reduce the costs of solar energy production enough for it to compete with oil as an energy source. Instead of relying solely on photons, the new process, called “photon enhanced thermionic emission,” or PETE, simultaneously combines the light and heat of solar radiation to generate electricity.  Read More

IKAROS with it's solar sail successfully deployed

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s IKAROS space yacht which launched last month has successfully unfurled its solar sail. The accomplishment marks the first time a solar sail has been successfully deployed in space.  Read More

The IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun) solar sail

Although the idea of a solar sail was first proposed some 100 years ago, to date none has been successfully used in space as a primary means of propulsion. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is looking to change all that with its IKAROS project – not a misspelling of Icarus, rather an abbreviation of Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun. Launched today aboard the H-IIA Launch Vehicle (H-IIA F17), IKAROS is a space yacht that gathers energy for propulsion from sunlight pressure (photons) by means of a square membrane measuring 20 meters (65.6 ft) diagonally.  Read More

MIT researchers have created a virus-templated catalyst solution used to harness energy fr...

A team of MIT researchers has managed to mimic the photosynthetic process in plants by engineering M13, a simple and harmless virus, to help splitting water into its two atomic components, hydrogen and oxygen, using sunlight. The researchers hope this is the first step toward using sunlight to create hydrogen reserves that could then be used to generate electricity or even produce liquid fuels for transportation.  Read More

A window frame and stirring branches projected by Adam Frank's REVEAL

Just the other day we brought you the story of SUNLIGHT, an art project featuring a giant solar-powered projection of the sun. It was designed and is being installed by Brooklyn artist Adam Frank. Upon looking over Mr Frank’s website we found an interesting little projector-type thingy-ma-jig that you can set up right in your own home. It’s called REVEAL, and it simulates the sun-cast shadows of a window frame and swaying tree branches on your inside walls. Just the thing for that dingy basement office.  Read More

Adam Frank's SUNLIGHT at its peak, on the side of Denver's Minoru Yasui Building

As of July 1st, the city of Denver, Colorado will be lit by two suns. There will be the usual big one that shines throughout the day, but there will also be a smaller one that rises in the evening, climbs up the side of the Minoru Yasui office building throughout the night, then sets in the morning. That’s the plan, at least, for Brooklyn artist Adam Frank’s permanent installation entitled SUNLIGHT. Appropriately enough, the whole thing will be solar-powered.  Read More

Dr Philip Rasch is Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's first Chief Scientist for Clima...

Scientists in the US have been cloud-spotting over shipping lanes and have noticed something more interesting than teddy-bear shapes and faces. They have detected that rising steam from passing ships has caused brightening in the clouds which they theorize alters the reflectivity of the cloud and prevents the energy from reaching the Earth. They propose that if this could be achieved artificially via geoengineering it could be an effective defense against global warming.  Read More

A construction crew paints a white roof in downtown Washington, D.C. (Image: Maria Jose-Vi...

Previous studies have indicated that painting the roofs of buildings white could be a low tech way to reduce global warming by reflecting the sun’s rays back into space. Now the first computer modeling study to simulate the impacts of white roofs on urban areas worldwide has added more weight to such a proposal indicating that painting every roof in a city entirely white could cool the world’s cities by an average of about 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit or 0.4 degrees Celsius.  Read More

A commercially-produced EcoSphere(R) closed ecosystem  (Photo courtesy EcoSphere Associate...

Have you ever wanted to create your own little planet? Do you like aquatic life, but think that aquariums are too much work? If your answer to either of those two questions is Yes, then you might quite enjoy owning a miniature closed aquatic ecosystem. All you need is a credit card, or a clear glass jar, some stuff from a pond, and an appreciation for things that exist on a small scale. The result will be a self-sustained miniature world that doesn’t need feeding, filtration, or anything other than light, from the outside world.  Read More

Looking for something? Search our 26,545 articles