graphene Engineering New Technologies 

Moth Eyes Inspire Graphene-Based Smart Tech

Look into the eyes of moths and see the future. The future of smart gadgets, that is. Moths’ eyes are the latest inspiration for thin solar material. Researchers from the University of Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute say that new, ultra-thin, patterned graphene sheets will be essential in designing “smart wallpaper” and other future technologies. Graphene is traditionally an excellent electronic material, as the graphene-based microphone demonstrates, but it is inefficient for optical applications. It usually absorbs only 2 or 3 percent of the light that lands on it. That’s not…

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Lens Flare, Steven Spence Environment New Technologies Physics 

Spying on the Atomic Structure of Perovskites

By Jonathan Trinastic, @jptrinastic Spying on the Atomic Structure of Perovskites Perovskites are darling materials in the world of solar cells but still somewhat of a mystery to scientists. Perovskite-based photovoltaics boast a combination of high performance and cheap production that makes them an ideal candidate to lead the next solar energy revolution. Like many young and talented upstarts, however, they don’t always perform consistently, and they burn out quickly. Scientists do not yet completely understand why, but they have taken an important step by creating the first images of individual…

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Kirigami-inspired solar cell courtesy of Lamoureux A et al. New Technologies Physics Science and Art 

New Solar Cells Inspired by 400-year-old Art

By Jonathan Trinastic @jptrinastic Artists in  seventeenth century Japan probably never expected their unique paper-cutting artwork, known as kirigami, to inspire leading-edge technology four hundred years later.  But the traditional art and new science have been recently well-paired to improve renewable energy technology, according to a recent paper1 in Nature Communications that details a creative design for a lightweight solar cell that tracks the Sun’s position throughout the day. Kirigami is the art of cutting paper to create elaborately textured, three-dimensional works of art.  Kirigami artists generally begin by cutting…

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Truly transparent solar energy Engineering Environment New Technologies Physics 

Solar Energy that Doesn’t Block the View

A company is making completely see-through solar energy panels for our phones and tablets. Next, for our car and home windows. By Kate Stone A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that, when placed over a window, creates solar energy while still allowing people to see through the window. It is called a “transparent luminescent solar concentrator” and it can be used on buildings, cell phones, and anything else that has a clear surface. According to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College…

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The UT Arlington team developed a new solar cell that is more efficient and can store solar energy even at night. (UT Arlington) Engineering New Technologies 

New Solar Energy Storage Works at Night

By Kate S. Most solar energy systems rely on using sunlight as an immediate power source, but can’t function at night or in cloudy weather. So, what if a solar cell could store solar energy and release it for use after the sun goes down? That’s the technology a materials science and engineering team from the University of Texas at Arlington has developed. They have successfully built a new energy cell that can store large-scale solar energy, even when it’s dark. The prototype is an “all-vanadium photo-electrochemical flow cell” that…

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