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Sun-free photovoltaics powered by heat

August 1, 2011

Silicon chip micro-reactors developed by the MIT team. Each of these contains photonic crystals on both flat faces, with external tubes for injecting fuel and air and ejecting waste products. Inside the chip, the fuel and air react to heat up the photonic crystals. (Credit: Justin Knight)

A new photovoltaic energy-conversion system has beenĀ developed by researchers at MIT, powered solely by heat, generating electricity with no sunlight at all.

The researchers made a button-sized power generator fueled by butane that can run three times longer than a lithium-ion battery of the same weight. The device can then be recharged instantly, just by snapping in a tiny cartridge of fresh fuel.

The… read more

Sun-powered device converts CO2 into fuel

February 19, 2009

Powered only by natural sunlight, an array of catalytic titanium dioxide nanotubes is able to convert a mixture of carbon dioxide and water vapor into natural gas at rates 20 times higher than previous methods, Pennsylvania State University researchers have found.

The process is not yet commercially viable.

Sun-Seeking Robot Bound for Arctic

April 5, 2001

A sun-seeking robot created at Carnegie Mellon University will be tested for two weeks starting July 10 on Devon Island above the Arctic Circle in Nunavut, Canada, “the closest thing we have to Mars on Earth.”

The experimental Hyperion robot prototype is part of a $1 million NASA project to develop a Mars robot that seeks sunlight that feeds a solar panel on its back.

Sunlight to Fuel Hydrogen Future

December 9, 2004

The photovoltaic cell is old news: the latest way to exploit the sun is through tiny materials that can directly convert sunlight into large amounts of hydrogen.

Hydrogen Solar of Guilford, England, and Altair Nanotechnologies are building a hydrogen-generation system that captures sunlight and uses the energy to break water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The company’s current project is a fuel station in Las Vegas that will soon… read more

Sun’s properties not ‘fine-tuned’ for life

May 23, 2008

There’s nothing special about the Sun that makes it more likely than other stars to host life, a new study by Australian National University scientists shows. The finding adds weight to the idea that alien life should be common throughout the universe.

They suggest that there are probably no special attributes that a star requires to have a habitable planet, other than the obvious one — the planet must… read more

‘Sunshade’ for global warming could cause drought

August 3, 2007

Pumping sulphur particles into the atmosphere to mimic the cooling effect of a large volcanic eruption, proposed as a last-ditch solution to combating climate change, could cause catastrophic drought, according to a study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Super Accurate Radiation Robots Kill Cancer Cells and Leave Healthy Ones Untouched

May 26, 2010

A new generation of radiation robots is lowering the rate of dead healthy cells by more accurately targeting cancer cells.

‘Super Earth’ Discovered at Nearby Star

August 26, 2004

European astronomers have found one of the smallest planets known outside our solar system, a world about 14 times the mass of our own around a star much like the Sun.

No planet so small has ever been detected around a normal star. And the finding reveals a solar system more similar to our own than anything found so far.

Super Organics

April 28, 2004

Forget Frankenfruit — the new-and-improved flavor of gene science is Earth-friendly and all-natural. Welcome to the golden age of smart breeding.

Researchers are beginning to understand plants so precisely that they no longer need transgenics to achieve traits like drought resistance, durability, or increased nutritional value. Over the past decade, scientists have discovered that our crops are chock-full of dormant characteristics. Rather than inserting, say, a bacteria gene to… read more

Super Realistic Bionic Hand

July 19, 2007

Touch Bionics’ i-Limb is supposedly the world’s most advanced bionic hand.

Super Robots Gear Up for Space

February 22, 2007

Superbots — robots made up of identical modular units that plug into one another to create robots that can stand, crawl, wiggle, and roll — are being developed mainly to carry out multiple complex tasks, such as assembly, inspection, maintenance, habitat construction, surface landing, and exploration in space and on planet surfaces.

Super Searches

November 5, 2004

IBM Almaden Research Center has developed a next-generation search technology, called WebFountain, that lets users ask specific questions in complete sentences — something today’s search engines have trouble handling.

WebFountain can whittle down billions of pages of unstructured data from the entire Web in real time, rapidly retrieving and analyzing only the most relevant pages. Geared for corporate applications, WebFountain spots online trends as they emerge, identifies patterns –… read more

Super secure data encryption gets faster

April 20, 2010

Researchers at the Cambridge Lab of Toshiba Research Europe have demonstrated the continuous operation of a quantum key distribution (QKD) system with a speed greater than one megabit/sec over a 50 km fiber optic network.

The system could be used by hospitals, banks, or anyone transmitting sensitive data.

The technology will work without user interference, and allows sensitive information to be distributed using “one-time pad” encryption — a… read more

Super slow-motion camera can follow firing neurons

October 29, 2009

A camera sensor able to film action at 1 million frames per second to detect one-microsecond neuron signals has been developed by Delft University of Technology researchers.

The device uses an array of single-photon detectors, each connected to a stopwatch with 100-picosecond accuracy.

Super Soaker Inventor Aims to Cut Solar Costs in Half

January 10, 2008

Lonnie Johnson, a nuclear engineer who holds more than 100 patents, says he can achieve a conversion efficiency rate that tops 60 percent with a new solid-state heat engine. It represents a breakthrough new way to turn heat into power.

The Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Conversion System has no moving parts. It’s similar to a fuel cell: it circulates hydrogen between two membrane-electrode assemblies. Unlike a fuel cell, however, it… read more

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