science + technology news

Solar X-rays may create DNA building blocks on Titan

June 29, 2009

Blasting the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan with X-rays can produce adenine, a base component of DNA, a new laboratory study suggests.

When meteoroid impacts deliver water to the moon’s surface, the finding adds to evidence that Titan may be ripe for life.

Solar-Power Breakthrough

August 1, 2008

Daniel Nocera, a professor of chemistry at MIT, has made a major advance in chemistry that could lead to a cheap way to store energy from the sun, solving one of the key problems in making solar energy a dominant source of electricity.

He has developed a low-cost catalyst that can generate oxygen and hydrogen from water, and the hydrogen can then be burned or run through a fuel… read more

Solar-power materials head in a new direction: thinner

Atom-thick photovoltaic sheets could pack hundreds of times more power per weight than conventional solar cells
June 27, 2013

The MIT team found that an effective solar cell could be made from a stack of two one-molecule-thick materials: Graphene (a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms, shown at bottom in blue) and molybdenum disulfide (above, with molybdenum atoms shown in red and sulfur in yellow). The two sheets together are thousands of times thinner than conventional silicon solar cells.<br />

MIT researchers are opening a new avenue for improving solar cells, aiming to produce the thinnest and most lightweight solar panels possible.

Such panels, which have the potential to surpass any substance other than reactor-grade uranium in terms of energy produced per pound of material, could be made from stacked sheets of one-molecule-thick materials such as graphene or molybdenum disulfide.

Jeffrey Grossman,… read more

Solar-power paint lets you generate as you decorate

March 10, 2008

A consortium led by Swansea University, UK, is developing solar-power paint could allow roofs and walls of buildings to generate electricity.

The paint will be based on dye-sensitised solar cells. While less efficient than conventional cells, dye-based cells do not require expensive silicon and can be quickly applied as a liquid paste.

Solar-powered 3-D printer prints glass from sand

June 29, 2011

Solar Sinter

Markus Kaiser’s  solar sintering project explores the potential of desert manufacturing, where energy and material occur in abundance.

In this experiment, sunlight and sand are used as raw energy and material to produce glass objects using a 3D printing process, combining natural energy and material with high-tech production technology.

His work with solar-sintering aims to raise questions about the future of manufacturing and the use of solar energy.… read more

Solar-powered implant could restore vision

April 23, 2006

A solar-powered chip that stimulates retinal cells by spraying them with neurotransmitters could restore sight to blind people.

Solar-Powered Laser

September 19, 2007

A new kind of efficient, solar-powered laser developed by researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology is intended to combust the magnesium content of seawater, generating large amounts of heat and hydrogen.

Solar-Powered Plane

April 9, 2010


The maiden test flight of the first ultra-lightweight experimental solar plane, the Solar Impulse, lifted off at a military airport in the Swiss countryside Wednesday.

The plane, designed by a Swiss team headed by Bertrand Piccard, has wings as wide as a Boeing 747. Equipped with 12,000 solar cells, 880 pounds of lithium batteries and four 10 horsepower electric motors, the plane weighs about… read more

Solar-powered sea slug harnesses stolen plant genes

November 25, 2008

Mary Rumpho of the University of Maine has discovered the sea slug runs on solar power by photosynthesis, using genes “stolen” from the algae it eats.

Solaris movie: slow-paced scifi

December 2, 2002

Solaris, a movie adapted from the brilliant scifi novel by Stanislaw Lem and set on a space station, features shape-shifting reality, a mysterious planet that reads minds, and replicants, but lapses into slow-paced, soporific gloom.


New York Times
Chicago Sun-Times

Soldier of the Future: Army Turns to Nanotechnology

March 18, 2002

Backed by a US Army grant of $50 million over five years, MIT has launched a new Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies.

The institute is tasked with innovating materials and designs that will reinvent soldiers’ uniforms, turning them into high tech gear that rivals the best science fiction.
Among the capabilities of the futuristic fabrics: morphing to improve camouflage, stiffening to splint broken limbs, and storing energy that can be… read more

Solid stops light

January 8, 2002

A crystal that holds light could facilitate quantum computing.
Researchers in the United States and Korea have brought light to a complete standstill in a crystal. The pulse is effectively held within the solid, ready to be released at a later stage.

This trick could be used to store information in a quantum computer.

Normal computers store information in simple binary form (1′s and 0′s) in electronic and… read more

Solid-state rotating molecular machines

July 15, 2012

Dynamics of Rings 1

University of Windsor researchers have shown that tiny interlocked molecules can function inside solid materials, providing a blueprint for future creation of solid-state molecular switches and molecular machines based on mechanically interlocked molecules, the researchers suggest.

“Until now, this has only ever been done in solution,” explained PhD student Nick Vukotic.

WDM-1, or University of Windsor Dynamic Material, a powdery substance that the team… read more

Solid-state terahertz devices could scan for cancer

July 11, 2012


Cornell 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.


Terahertz radiation, the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum between microwaves and infrared light, penetrates cloth and leather and just a few millimeters into the skin, but without the potentially damaging effects of X-rays.

read more

Solve for X: celebrating moonshot thinking

February 15, 2013


Last week, Google hosted its 2013 Solve for X event, where they gathered 50 experienced entrepreneurs, innovators and scientists from around the world who are taking on moonshots — proposals that address a huge problem, suggest a radical solution that could work, and use some form of breakthrough technology to make it happen, Megan Smith and Astro Teller, co-hosts/creators of… read more

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