Sylmar, CA —Flying high above the earth are thousands of satellites providing the necessities of daily communication. With the proliferation of cell phones and the Internet, onboard power requirements have become even more demanding. "We have now created space solar cells with an efficiency up to 29%," says David Lillington, acting President of Spectrolab, a division of Hughes Electronics. "By increasing the absorption from single junction to multi-junction arrays we have been able to dramatically increase the [energy] absorption rates."
Standard solar cell technology relies on a single junction. But since the mid 1990s, Spectrolab has created solar cells with multiple junctions. "By growing 16 layers of gallium arsenide on germanium we have been able to create a triple junction cell with much higher efficiencies," says Lillington up from the current 15%. "By improving on these processes, we expect efficiencies up to 50% in about 10 years from now."
Lithium-ion battery prices will drop rapidly over the next 10 years, setting the stage for plug-in vehicles to reach 5%-10% of total automotive sales by the mid- to late-2020s, according to a new study.
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.
A recent Design News-exclusive study proves that engineering professionals are at the very forefront of this push into the future and making direct financial, performance, and value impact on their organizations by being personally involved or final decision-makers on automation solution and component choices.
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