The Limits Of Energy Harvesting


Energy harvesting, once considered an inexpensive alternative to low-power design and a way of achieving nearly unlimited power in mobile devices, has settled down to more modest expectations. This approach to generating energy through a variety of means—from solar to motion to ambient RF and even pH differences between soil and trees—has been proven to work. The problem is that it doesn... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: Feb. 4


Lead halide perovskites Paving the way to the design of photovoltaic converters with improved efficiency, researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) said they have uncovered the mechanism by which solar cells based on lead iodide perovskite light-absorbing semiconductor transfer electrons along their surface. Photovoltaic systems based on lead halide perovskite are a n... » read more

The Week In Review: Manufacturing And Design


Blocking cell phone use and texting while driving have been proposed by the U.S. government and for good reason. About 10 people a day are killed in “distraction-affected” car accidents in the U.S., according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As a result, some companies are developing technologies that can block texts while driving. But according to Strategy Analyt... » read more

Manufacturing Bits: Nov. 12


Knife-Wielding Robot Cornell University has taught a knife-wielding robot to work in a mock-supermarket checkout line. In doing so, researchers have modified a Baxter robot from Rethink Robotics. In the experiment, the robot coactively learns and makes adjustments while an action is in progress. But when performing tasks at a checkout line, the robot’s problem is to identify the appropria... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: Nov. 12


Back To The Future In the hunt for sources of renewable energy, researchers at ETH Zurich have gone back to a 19th century discovery. Thermoelectric materials have the remarkable property that heating them creates a small electrical current. But enhancing this current to a level compatible with the needs of modern technologies has revealed an extraordinary challenge for scientists of the last ... » read more

The Week In Review: Aug. 19


By Mark LaPedus Applied Materials named Gary Dickerson, who has been serving as president of the company, as CEO. Mike Splinter, who held the reins since 2003, was elevated to executive chairman of the board. Dickerson served as the CEO of Varian, which Applied acquired in 2011, as well as the president and COO of KLA-Tencor. Applied Materials also announced its Q3 results. The company rep... » read more

Solar In Context


What made Apple’s iPod a winner was business context. There were plenty of other MP3 players on the market and Apple’s wasn’t particularly noteworthy from a technology standpoint. But rather than just sell another portable music machine, the company created something its competitors didn’t have—iTunes. In fact, it was iTunes that made the iPod, not the other way around. The same th... » read more

Solar In Context


What made Apple’s iPod a winner was business context. There were plenty of other MP3 players on the market and Apple’s wasn’t particularly noteworthy from a technology standpoint. But rather than just sell another portable music machine, the company created something its competitors didn’t have—iTunes. In fact, it was iTunes that made the iPod, not the other way around. The same th... » read more

The Sun Is Bright. Use More Of It.


By Michael P.C. Watts The sun is bright and warm, there must be a way to use more of it to generate power. Last time the discussion focused on the opportunity for other semiconductor materials, and whether there was any realistic opportunity for new technologies given the state of the industry. This is the third of a series of blogs to try and answer this question. If you hate serials, the com... » read more

Alternatives to silicon for solar cells


Michael P.C. Watts Last time I started to talk about the solar cell business, and whether there was any realistic opportunity for new technologies given the state of the industry. This is the second of a series of blogs to try and answer this question. If you hate serials, the complete analysis is available on my web site www.impattern.com. Let’s start by looking at the potential for other... » read more

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