The competition in the photovoltaics (PV) market is fierce. When it comes to price, Asian manufacturers are frequently ahead of the competition. Now, researchers in Germany are designing new coating processes and thin layer systems that may help reduce the price of solar cells significantly, and change the balance of power in PV.
According to data from a 2008 Business R&D and Innovation Survey by the National Science Foundation, businesses perform the lion's share of their R&D activity in just a small number of geographic areas, particularly the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland area and the New York-Newark-Bridgeport area.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new technique for magnetically separating oil and water that could be used to clean up oil spills. They believe that, with their technique, the oil could be recovered for use, offsetting much of the cleanup cost.
Researchers have developed a self-charging power cell that directly converts mechanical energy to chemical energy, storing the power until it is released as electrical current. By eliminating the need to convert mechanical energy to electrical energy for charging a battery, the new hybrid generator-storage cell uses mechanical energy more efficiently than systems using separate generators and batteries.
After making a sheet of “paper” from the world’s thinnest material, graphene, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute scientists zapped it with a laser. The light blemished the ultrathin paper with countless cracks, pores, and other imperfections. The result is a graphene anode material that can be charged or discharged 10 times faster than conventional graphite anodes used in today’s lithium-ion batteries.
A team of researchers at in Japan has demonstrated a new material that promises to eliminate loss in electrical power transmission. Their methodology for solving this classic energy problem is based on a highly exotic type of magnetic semiconductor first theorized less than a decade ago—a magnetic topological insulator.
In 2010, Sandia National Laboratories researcher Jeff Tsao and Harry Saunders of The Breakthrough Institute in Oakland, Calif., predicted that light-emitting diodes would have a similar improvement in productivity—but not less energy use—that occurred upon the introduction of the Edison light bulb. Now, they have reprised their report to emphasize conclusions they say were misinterpreted by the media.
More and more companies are turning to simplified procedures to help tackle complex product design tasks. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, work on Design Structure Matrix analysis is helping heavyweight companies improve their products, production lines and organizations by transforming product design into a productive routine.
R&D laboratories take on challenges of terrorism, energy, and communications in the new millennium.
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have developed a new type of amplifier for boosting electrical signals. The device can be used for everything from studying stars, galaxies, and black holes to exploring the quantum world and developing quantum computers.
Cornell University researchers have developed a new method of generating terahertz signals on an inexpensive silicon chip, offering possible applications in medical imaging, security scanning, and wireless data transfer.
A team of scientists in the U.K. have developed an electron pump—a nano-device—which picks these electrons up one at a time and moves them across a barrier, creating a very well-defined electrical current. This technique, which manipulates electrons individually, could replace the traditional definition of electrical current, the ampere, which relies on measurements of mechanical forces on current-carrying wires.
University of Utah engineers designed microscopic mechanical devices that withstand intense radiation and heat, so they can be used in circuits for robots and computers exposed to radiation in space, damaged nuclear power plants, or nuclear attack.
A team of Case Western Reserve University engineers has designed and fabricated integrated amplifier circuits that operate under extreme temperatures—up to 600 C—a feat that was previously impossible. The silicon carbide amplifiers have applications in both aerospace and energy industries.
Thanks to new energy taxation regulations taking effect in Germany, electrical engineers there have invented a space-saving energy usage metering unit that can be simply clipped onto a power cable like a laundry peg, without having to disconnect the load. The device is based on a magnetic field sensor originally developed for use in washing machines, where it monitors the position and orientation of the rotating drum.
Researchers from Michigan State University, the NIST Center for Neutron Research, and the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology have discovered the key to controlling and enhancing the lossless flow of a current with a single electron spin state in a standard superconducting device.
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) at infrared wavelengths are the magic behind such things as night vision and optical communications. Cornell University researchers have advanced the process of making such LEDs cheaper and easier to fabricate, which could lead to ultrathin LEDs painted onto silicon to replace computer wiring with light waves.
Electric vehicles have slowly been catching on in urban environments, but their popularity has been hampered by available manufacturing technology. Either the vehicles are too heavy and too expensive, or they do not meet mass-market safety requirements. Researchers in Germany, funded by major automotive corporations, are testing a new mobility concept they hope will hit the sweet spot.
Schaefer, Inc., has broadened capabilities for its Raptor Series of military COTS/MOTS power supplies. The output voltage range has been extended to provide DC outputs from 12 VDC to 52.5 VDC with power ratings from 1200 W to 1800 W.
Globalization, the personal computer, and changing priorities set the stage for R&D 100 Award Winners.
Philips recently announced that its EnduraLED 12.5 W bulb has met or exceeded the quality and energy efficiency requirements for a 60 W light-emitting diode (LED) equivalent set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program. Philips was the only company to enter the Department of Energy’s L Prize contest, which sought a product like the EnduraLED.
Last Friday, the National Science Foundation held a congressional briefing to call attention to its research successes, particularly the process of bringing relevant fundamental research from the laboratory to the marketplace. Particular attention was called to Small Business Innovation Research grant beneficiaries, some of whom shared their success stories at the briefing.
Equipped with an advanced sensing and navigation suite of instrument, the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR) is the product of a interdisciplinary team and is designed solely to fight fires aboard U.S. Navy and Marine Corps vessels. A humanoid-type robot was chosen because it was deemed best suited to operate within the confines of an environment that was deigned for humans in the first place.
A group of Italian and Swedish researchers appears to have solved the problem of radio congestion by cleverly twisting radio waves into the shape of fusilli pasta, allowing a potentially infinite number of channels to be broadcast and received. To demonstrate, they did this in real-life conditions by beaming two corkscrewed radio waves across the waters of Venice, Italy.
Visible Light Communications (VLC), a University of Edinburgh spin-out, will soon launch its first prototype light-emitting diode communications technology. “Li-Fi” relies on optical spatial modulation and an Internet protocol technology to allow LED light to carry optical wireless communications streams.