Researchers Steve Dunn at Queen Mary University and James Durrant at Imperial College London have been experimenting with a new design of thin, flexible solar cell made from zinc oxide. Manufacturing costs of the new cells will be significantly lower than conventional silicon based technology. The only disadvantage is their poor efficiency; just 1.2 %, a fraction of that achievable with silicon.
The material also exhibits piezo-electric properties, nanoscale rods of the material generate electricity when they are subjected to mechanical stresses produced by sound wave pressure. Sound levels as low as 75dB, equivalent to that from an office printer, were shown to improve efficiency. Durrant said “The key for us was that certain frequencies increased the solar cell output, we tried our initial tests with various types of music including pop, rock and classical”. Rock and pop were found to be the most effective. Using a signal generator to produce sounds similar to ambient noise they saw a 50 % increase in efficiency, rising from 1.2 % without sound to 1.8 % with sound.
New Solar Cell Shows a Preference for AC/DC - [Link]
Ben writes –
I have finally been successful in creating a conductive, clear layer of indium-tin oxide on a microscope slide. In this video, I show the process and explain how sputtering works.
Intro to sputtering (process to create clear, conductive coatings) - [Link]
In 2011 Prof. Harald Haas (pictured) of the University of Edinburgh demonstrated streaming a hi-def video signal using a light beam as a transmission medium. He went on to explain how this technology might be used to address the growing paucity of free RF bandwidth and suggested that domestic LED lamps may in future provide an internet access point, once the necessary control electronics to modulate the light are integrated into the lamp.
The key to this technique (dubbed LiFi) is a modified type of Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing called SIM OFDM. This splits the serial data stream into thousands of parallel streams, using multiple carrier frequencies to modulate the light source and achieve a high throughput. [via]
LiFi Ready to Go - [Link]
Here is a complete teardown of Samsung Galaxy Note 3. by TechInsights:
In 2011 Samsung defined a new category with its 5.3″ diagonal Galaxy Note phone. The original Note was so large it was considered by many as a phone that aspired to be a tablet, hence the term “phablet” was coined. The Galaxy Note’s monstrous screen was so out of place in the phone marketplace that the competition didn’t event mount a comparable rebuttal for nearly 12 months. Now nearly every manufacturer offers a five-inch plus device. But they all still struggle to unseat the category leader.
With the third iteration of the Galaxy Note, Samsung has refused to add kitschy features. Rather it has focused on improving the human interaction elements in using this device as an all-in-one communications device. First off the “S-Pen” continues to be linked into more of the embedded Samsung software and features, while the new Galaxy Watch (teardown coming shortly) promises further improvements to the ways the user interacts with the device’s proven functionality.
Teardown: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 still the category leader - [Link]
iPhone 5s teardown form iFixIt.com. Let’s check out some of its tech specs:
- Apple A7 processor with 64-bit architecture
- M7 motion co-processor
- 16, 32, or 64 GB Storage
- 4-inch retina display with 326 ppi
- 8 MP iSight camera (with larger 1.5µ pixels) and a 1.2MP FaceTime camera.
- Fingerprint identity sensor built into the home button
Teardown: iPhone 5s - [Link]
The broad benefit of MEMS technology is that it will allow high-volume, small-package technology and batch semiconductor manufacturing to replace the complex manufacturing processes associated with quartz. Since the final product is a silicon die, MEMS can be co-packaged (overmolded) with associated ICs, enabling further benefits in manufacturability, size, compatibly, ease-of-use, and, of course, lower total system cost. Finally, MEMS is more immune to shock, vibration, and electromagnetic interference (EMI) than quartz; can be designed to be free of “activity dips”; and can support operating temperature ranges beyond -40°C to +85°C. (by Todd Borkowski)
Time for a change: Quartz oscillators make way for MEMS - [Link]
by Stephen Evanczuk
With Apple’s anticipated announcement on September 10 of not one but two new iPhone models, speculation on the features and designs of the new iPhones has revolved around expectations for faster, more feature-rich smartphones built around Apple’s recently released iOS 7, featuring its new “flat-design” look. In fact, even the product name is matter of conjecture at this point, but economics suggests that the new phones will emerge as variants of Apple’s current flagship, the iPhone 5.
As a result, rather than expect to see an “iPhone 6″ with significant hardware changes, a safe bet lies with expectation that the new models will bracket the iPhone 5 with upgraded features in the iPhone 5S and a reduced price point in the iPhone 5C – targeting business/professional users and students/ users, respectively. Accordingly, the two models are likely to target the sweet spot of design, feature set, and price for those market segments.
Teardown preview: Inside the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C - [Link]
Researchers at Harvard University have demonstrated a new type of loudspeaker transducer which works on a different principle to the conventional moving coil design. It is made up of a thin sheet of transparent rubber sandwiched between two layers of salt water gel. A modulated high voltage signal passed across the two outer gel layers exerts pressure on the rubber membrane, causing it to vibrate and produce sound. The prototype speaker has a frequency response from 20 to 20 kHz.
The effect is produced by the electrical charges carried by ions and not the movement of electrons so strictly speaking this is not an electronic device. The new transducer could be used as an adaptive lens in an optical system or as a window-mounted noise cancellation device. The electrolyte gel is biocompatible so there could also be applications as artificial skin or muscle. [via]
Ionic Gel Speaker - [Link]
MIT has designed an ultra-low cost “flow” battery that it claims will store 10-times as much energy as lithium-ion while consuming 10,000 times less power, making it a candidate to meet the Department of Energy’s target of less than $100 per kilowatt-hour for grid-scale deployment. [via]
MIT’s flow battery simplifies rechargeable technology by eliminating the ion-exchange membranes. The lower solid graphite electrode reduces liquid bromine to hydrobromic acid, while hydrogen is oxidized at the upper porous electrode.
Flow Batteries Go Mainstream - [Link]