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.
The Beam Store from Suitable Technologies is managed by remote workers from places as diverse as New York and Sydney, Australia. Employees attend to store visitors through Beam Smart Presence Systems (SPSs) from the company. The systems combine mobility and video conferencing and allow people to communicate directly from a remote location via a screen as well as move around as if they are actually in the room.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
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