System Bits: Oct. 11

Carbon Is So 2015 Researchers at MIT have created a supercapacitor that relies on a material other than carbon. This new class of materials, called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), are a porous and sponge-like, according to MIT, tthereby providing a much larger surface area than carbon. As with most things electrical, more surface area is essential for superconductors. The problem the re... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: Oct. 4

Solar battery Chemists at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia integrated solar cells with a large-capacity battery in a single device that eliminates the usual intermediate step of making electricity and, instead, transfers the energy directly to the battery's electrolyte. The team used a redox flow battery, or R... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: Sept. 20

Energy-harvesting fabric Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Chongqing University in China developed a fabric that can simultaneously harvest energy from both sunshine and motion. The fabric, just .32mm thick, was constructed using a commercial textile machine to weave together solar cells constructed from lightweight polymer fibers with fiber-based triboelectric nanoge... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: Aug. 30

Scalable data center chip Princeton University researchers designed a new scalable chip specifically for data centers and massive computing systems. The team believes the chip, called Piton, can substantially increase processing speed while slashing energy needs. The chip architecture is scalable; designs can be built that go from a dozen cores to several thousand. Also, the architecture ... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: Aug. 16

Dissolving batteries Researchers at Iowa State University developed a self-destructing lithium-ion battery capable of delivering 2.5 volts and dissolving or dissipating in 30 minutes when dropped in water. The battery can power a desktop calculator for about 15 minutes. Making such devices possible is the goal of a relatively new field of study called "transient electronics." These transi... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: Aug. 2

From sun to hydrocarbon fuel Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have engineered a solar cell that cheaply and efficiently converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into usable hydrocarbon fuel, using only sunlight for energy. Unlike conventional solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity that must be stored in heavy batteries, the new device converts atmosph... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: July 12

Thin transistors Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory developed a way to chemically assemble transistors and circuits that are only a few atoms thick. The team controlled the synthesis of a transistor in which narrow channels were etched onto conducting graphene, with molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) seeded in the blank channels. Both of these m... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: June 28

Mimicking roses for solar Scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) reproduced the epidermal cells of rose petals and integrated the transparent replicas into an organic solar cell, with an efficiency gain of 12%. The epidermis of rose petals consists of a disorganized arrangement of densely p... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: May 31

Solar thermophotovoltaics A team of MIT researchers demonstrated a device based on a method that enables solar cells to break through a theoretically predicted ceiling on how much sunlight they can convert into electricity. Since 1961 it has been known that there is an absolute theoretical limit, called the Shockley-Queisser Limit, to how efficient traditional solar cells can be in their ... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: May 10

Non-toxic thin-films A team at Australia's University of New South Wales achieved the world's highest efficiency using flexible solar cells that are non-toxic and cheap to make, with a record 7.6% efficiency in a 1cm2 area thin-film CZTS cell. Unlike its thin-film competitors, CZTS cells are made from abundant materials: copper, zinc, tin and sulphur, and has none of the toxicity problems... » read more

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