Putting solar cells on plastic creates some interesting possibilities, according to University of California chemists A. Paul Alivisatos, Wendy Huynh, and Janke Dittmer. "This opens up all sorts of new applications, like putting solar cells on clothing to power LEDs, radios, or small computer processors," says Dittmer. The team created a hybrid solar cell made from tiny rods dispersed in an organic polymer layer. The nanorods act like wires. When they absorb light, they generate electrons, which travel the length of the rod until collected by an aluminum electrode. The polymer layer is 200 nanometers thick—less than the width of a human hair—and is sandwiched in between the electrodes. The hybrid solar cell generates 0.7V. Unlike semiconductor-based photovoltaic devices, the plastic solar cells can be made without clean rooms and vacuum chambers. Visit www.berkeley.edu.
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Highly regarded engineer and physicist Ransom Stephens speaks with Design News about his extensive science and engineering background, the serious yet funny study of neuroscience, and how one primes their brain for innovation.
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