Solar cells that provide as much as 50% more power for Earth-orbiting satellites will help flash back telephone and television signals from space. The cells are based on the two-junction, gallium indium phosphide on gallium arsenide designs developed at the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (Golden, CO). TECSTAR Inc. (City of Industry, CA) licensed two patents covering the technology for space use. It has adapted the NREL technology to use germanium substrates for the epitaxial growth of the cells. This, in turn, should result in greater efficiencies and reduced costs for space missions. Commonly used silicon cells lose about half of their efficiency after five years in space. The gallium indium phosphide top layers of the new NREL cells have far more resistance to radiation damage, giving them a much longer space life. E-mail email@example.com.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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