Patented technique key to new solar power technology
For years, scientists have studied the potential benefits of a new branch of solar energy technology that relies on incredibly small nanosized antenna arrays that are theoretically capable of harvesting more than 70 percent of the sun’s electromagnetic radiation and simultaneously converting it into usable electric power. The technology would be a vast improvement over the silicon solar panels in widespread use today. Even the best silicon panels collect only about 20 percent of available solar radiation, and separate mechanisms are needed to convert the stored energy to usable electricity for the commercial power grid. The panels’ limited efficiency and expensive development costs have been two of the biggest barriers to the widespread adoption of solar power as a practical replacement for traditional fossil fuels. But while nanosized antennas have shown promise in theory, scientists have lacked the technology required to construct and test them. The fabrication process is immensely challenging. The nano-antennas – known as “rectennas” because of their ability to both absorb and rectify solar energy from alternating current to direct current – must be capable of operating at the speed of visible light and be built in such a way that their core pair of electrodes is a mere 1 or 2 nanometers apart, a distance of approximately one millionth of a millimeter, or 30,000 times smaller than the diameter of human hair.

Patented technique key to new solar power technology

For years, scientists have studied the potential benefits of a new branch of solar energy technology that relies on incredibly small nanosized antenna arrays that are theoretically capable of harvesting more than 70 percent of the sun’s electromagnetic radiation and simultaneously converting it into usable electric power. The technology would be a vast improvement over the silicon solar panels in widespread use today. Even the best silicon panels collect only about 20 percent of available solar radiation, and separate mechanisms are needed to convert the stored energy to usable electricity for the commercial power grid. The panels’ limited efficiency and expensive development costs have been two of the biggest barriers to the widespread adoption of solar power as a practical replacement for traditional fossil fuels. But while nanosized antennas have shown promise in theory, scientists have lacked the technology required to construct and test them. The fabrication process is immensely challenging. The nano-antennas – known as “rectennas” because of their ability to both absorb and rectify solar energy from alternating current to direct current – must be capable of operating at the speed of visible light and be built in such a way that their core pair of electrodes is a mere 1 or 2 nanometers apart, a distance of approximately one millionth of a millimeter, or 30,000 times smaller than the diameter of human hair.

IBM and IBN create antimicrobial hydrogels (by IBMLabs)

Bacterial biofilms appearing on the skin and on medical devices and household surfaces are difficult to treat and demonstrate high resistance to antibiotics. Antimicrobial hydrogels developed by IBM Research and the Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology demonstrate 100% efficiency in destruction of these biofilms, with application potential for catheter and medical device coatings, implants, skin and everyday surfaces.

2045: A New Era for Humanity

In February of 2012 the first Global Future 2045 Congress was held in Moscow. There, over 50 world leading scientists from multiple disciplines met to develop a strategy for the future development of humankind. One of the main goals of the Congress was to construct a global network of scientists to further research on the development of cybernetic technology, with the ultimate goal of transferring a human’s individual consciousness to an artificial carrier.

[N.B.  Some of this is way out there, and breathlessly speculative. But from everything we know about exponential technological change, the world in 10, 20 or 30 years from is likely to be much more radically different than we can even imagine.]

 IBM taking two paths toward making solar power cheaper than fossil fuels | Ars Technica
The price of photovoltaic hardware has dropped so dramatically in recent years that, according to some projections, a well-sited panel may become competitive with fossil fuels before the decade is out. To reach that point, which comes when panels cost below $2 per Watt, prices will have to continue their steep decline. During our visit to IBM’s Watson research center, we talked to two people who are working on ways to drive the cost down—but they are taking radically different approaches. The panels that most people are familiar with use silicon as a semiconductor. That has a few advantages, like cheap raw materials and reasonably high efficiency. But manufacturing panels remains expensive, and there aren’t obvious ways of squeezing large gains in efficiency out of standard silicon. So, IBM is looking at materials that don’t involve silicon: thin films and concentrating photovoltaics.

 IBM taking two paths toward making solar power cheaper than fossil fuels | Ars Technica

The price of photovoltaic hardware has dropped so dramatically in recent years that, according to some projections, a well-sited panel may become competitive with fossil fuels before the decade is out. To reach that point, which comes when panels cost below $2 per Watt, prices will have to continue their steep decline. During our visit to IBM’s Watson research center, we talked to two people who are working on ways to drive the cost down—but they are taking radically different approaches. The panels that most people are familiar with use silicon as a semiconductor. That has a few advantages, like cheap raw materials and reasonably high efficiency. But manufacturing panels remains expensive, and there aren’t obvious ways of squeezing large gains in efficiency out of standard silicon. So, IBM is looking at materials that don’t involve silicon: thin films and concentrating photovoltaics.

New wonder material replaces graphene for future electronic devices | KurzweilAI
Entirely new kinds of devices —- entire walls of light, smart windows, eyeglass displays, complex electronic circuits —- from new 2D molybdenum disulfide: MIT researchers
MIT researchers — who struggled for several years to build electronic circuits out of graphene with very limited results (except for radio-frequency applications) — have now succeeded in making a variety of electronic components from an amazing new material: a 2D version of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2).
The MIT researchers say the material could help usher in radically new products, from whole walls that glow to clothing with embedded electronics to glasses with built-in display screens.

New wonder material replaces graphene for future electronic devices | KurzweilAI

Entirely new kinds of devices —- entire walls of light, smart windows, eyeglass displays, complex electronic circuits —- from new 2D molybdenum disulfide: MIT researchers

MIT researchers — who struggled for several years to build electronic circuits out of graphene with very limited results (except for radio-frequency applications) — have now succeeded in making a variety of electronic components from an amazing new material: a 2D version of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2).

The MIT researchers say the material could help usher in radically new products, from whole walls that glow to clothing with embedded electronics to glasses with built-in display screens.

IBM Breaks Efficiency Mark with Novel Solar Material - Technology Review
An IBM-led research teams says that a combination of copper, zinc, tin, and selenium (CZTS) could meet current thin-film efficiencies with more abundant materials.
IBM says it has made technical progress on a solar technology that researchers hope will yield efficient thin-film solar cells made from abundant materials.
IBM photovoltaic scientists Teodor Todorov and David Mitzi on Friday detailed the findings of a paper that showed the highest efficiency to date for solar cells made from a combination of copper, zinc, tin, and selenium (CZTS). Published in Advanced Energy Materials, the technical paper described a CZTS solar cell able to convert 11.1 percent of solar energy to electricity.
 That level of efficiency is a significant jump from the 10.1 percent efficiency Mitzi and colleagues showed last year. (See, Efficiency Solar Cells from Cheaper Materials). The paper also argues that CZTS solar cells could achieve efficiencies high enough to make them commercially viable.

IBM Breaks Efficiency Mark with Novel Solar Material - Technology Review

An IBM-led research teams says that a combination of copper, zinc, tin, and selenium (CZTS) could meet current thin-film efficiencies with more abundant materials.

IBM says it has made technical progress on a solar technology that researchers hope will yield efficient thin-film solar cells made from abundant materials.

IBM photovoltaic scientists Teodor Todorov and David Mitzi on Friday detailed the findings of a paper that showed the highest efficiency to date for solar cells made from a combination of copper, zinc, tin, and selenium (CZTS). Published in Advanced Energy Materials, the technical paper described a CZTS solar cell able to convert 11.1 percent of solar energy to electricity.

 That level of efficiency is a significant jump from the 10.1 percent efficiency Mitzi and colleagues showed last year. (See, Efficiency Solar Cells from Cheaper Materials). The paper also argues that CZTS solar cells could achieve efficiencies high enough to make them commercially viable.

GM Bets on Lightweight, Malleable NanoSteel | Autopia | Wired.com
General Motors is looking to raise its lineup’s miles-per-gallon figures, starting with the exterior. GM Ventures LLC has invested in NanoSteel, a Rhode Island company with 34 employees that makes metals with altered grain structures. If developed to production, the material will potentially shave weight off Cadillacs and Chevrolets without losing the strength needed to survive a crash. The terms of the investment were not disclosed.
Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures LLC, said, “Over the next several years, light-weighting of vehicles will be a major focus area to improve fuel economy.” The hope is that this new material will help American cars hit the government-mandated 2025 requirement of averaging 54.5 MPG. The NanoSteel will be used in the “body in white” (BIW) section, the steel of the car body that’s manufactured before other components – including doors and a hood – are added. That’s the space where integrity needs to be strongest rather than soft, like a crumple zone. The weight reduction, GM and NanoSteel say, is in the “hundreds” of pounds.

GM Bets on Lightweight, Malleable NanoSteel | Autopia | Wired.com

General Motors is looking to raise its lineup’s miles-per-gallon figures, starting with the exterior. GM Ventures LLC has invested in NanoSteel, a Rhode Island company with 34 employees that makes metals with altered grain structures. If developed to production, the material will potentially shave weight off Cadillacs and Chevrolets without losing the strength needed to survive a crash. The terms of the investment were not disclosed.

Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures LLC, said, “Over the next several years, light-weighting of vehicles will be a major focus area to improve fuel economy.” The hope is that this new material will help American cars hit the government-mandated 2025 requirement of averaging 54.5 MPG. The NanoSteel will be used in the “body in white” (BIW) section, the steel of the car body that’s manufactured before other components – including doors and a hood – are added. That’s the space where integrity needs to be strongest rather than soft, like a crumple zone. The weight reduction, GM and NanoSteel say, is in the “hundreds” of pounds.

Special Paint Turns Any Surface Into A Battery - PSFK
Researchers at the Rice University in Texas, USA, have created a lithium-ion battery paint that can be applied to any surface. The battery-based paint was experimented on bathroom tiles, which were able to power a set of LED lights for six hours, and provided a steady 2.4 volts.
The lead author of the project, Neelam Singh, commented that her team had spent hours formulating, mixing and testing the paints. The working concept means that traditional packaging for batteries can have a “more flexible approach that allows all kinds of new design and integration possibilities for storage devices.”
via PSFK: 

Special Paint Turns Any Surface Into A Battery - PSFK

Researchers at the Rice University in Texas, USA, have created a lithium-ion battery paint that can be applied to any surface. The battery-based paint was experimented on bathroom tiles, which were able to power a set of LED lights for six hours, and provided a steady 2.4 volts.

The lead author of the project, Neelam Singh, commented that her team had spent hours formulating, mixing and testing the paints. The working concept means that traditional packaging for batteries can have a “more flexible approach that allows all kinds of new design and integration possibilities for storage devices.”



via PSFK: