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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS WEEKLY

A Promising Advance in Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells

Solar cells could become much cheaper thanks to improvements in a more than 20-year-old solar technology that captures light with dye molecules. The advance is "one of the most important breakthroughs in dye cells in the last several years," says a chemist at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

In other technology news, two researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (N.J.I.T.) have devised a direct-contact membrane distillation (DCMD) system that can efficiently wring drinking water out of up to 20 percent-salt-concentrated brine.

Two scientists at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, have designed a metamaterial that stretches when compressed, and vice versa, under any circumstances. "What is interesting is that they study systems that are not responding to a vibration but to a steady applied force," says John Pendry of Imperial College London.

As a Houston computer scientist has developed his ideas over nearly a decade, he has found increasing acclaim for his "inexact" computer chips. At a major computing conference in Italy, Rice University's Krishna Palem unveiled his newest chips that trade a bit of accuracy for better efficiency.

When Clarence Birdseye figured out how to pack and freeze haddock, using what he called "a marvelous new process which seals in every bit of just-from-the-ocean flavor," he essentially changed the way we produce, preserve and distribute food.


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