Posts Tagged ‘Solar Power’

Solar-powered hornet is the Superman of the animal kingdom [Mad Biology]

13 Feb
Plants use photosynthesis to turn sunlight into energy every single day. This ability appeared to be completely unknown in the animal kingdom, leaving the living solar battery that is Superman as the only animal to ever harness the sun's rays for power. But now we've discovered that a type of hornet is doing its own homegrown photosynthesis, absorbing sunlight and turning it into useful energy. It's the first animal we've ever discovered that possesses this ability...and we might be able to harness our own version of it for alternative energy. More »

New Solar Energy Potential Map Seamlessly Covers All of Western Hemisphere

14 Oct
3tier solar potential map image image: 3TIER TreeHugger likes maps; well, at least I like maps. And interactive maps which display the renewable energy potential of all of the Western Hemisphere are even cooler. Though 3TIER’s wind power potential map has been available for a few months now, at Solar Power International they’ve revealed their latest endeavor: A high-resolution interactive map that promises to enable wind developers, government policy makes and project financiers to make better decisions about where to site solar power projects. Company CEO Kenneth Westrick had this to say in touting this new online tool:...

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Black Silicon Discovery Could Change Digital Photography, Night Vision Forever [Black Silicon]

12 Oct

With the accidental discovery of "black silicon," Harvard physicists may have very well changed the digital photography, solar power and night vision industries forever. What is black silicon, you say? Well, it's just as it sounds. Black silicon. It's what this revolutionary new material does that's important, starting with light sensitivity. Early indications show black silicon is 100 to 500 times more sensitive to light than a traditional silicon wafer.

To create the special silicon, Harvard physicist Eric Mazur shined a super powerful laser onto a silicon wafer. The laser's output briefly matches all the energy produced by the sun falling onto the Earth's entire surface at a given moment in time. To spice the experiment up, he also had researchers apply sulfur hexafluoride, which the semiconductor industry uses to make etchings in silicon for circuitry. Seriously, he did this just for kicks and to secure more funding for an old project.

“I got tired of metals and was worrying that my Army funding would dry up,” he said. “I wrote the new direction into a research proposal without thinking much about it — I just wrote it in; I don’t know why," he said.

The new experiment made the silicon black to the naked eye. Under an electron microscope, however, the dark sheen was revealed to be thousands, if not millions, of tiny spikes. As we said above, those spikes had an amazing effect on the light sensitivity of the wafer. Mazur said the material also absorbs about twice as much visible light as traditional silicon, and can detect infrared light that is invisible to today's silicon detectors.

And there's no change to the manufacturing process, Mazur said, so existing semiconductor facilities can create black silicon without much additional effort or, more importantly, money. [New York Times]


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