Researcher at the Stanford Institute for Materials & Energy Science have developed a new substance for making computer chips that allows electrons to flow without any loss of energy at room temperatures and can be made using existing chip-making technologies:
Physicists Yulin Chen, Zhi-Xun Shen and their colleagues tested the behavior of electrons in the compound bismuth telluride. The results, published online June 11 in Science Express, show a clear signature of what is called a topological insulator, a material that enables the free flow of electrons across its surface with no loss of energy
This is pretty amazing in and of itself, but is not quite a superconductor:
Topological insulators aren’t conventional superconductors nor fodder for super-efficient power lines, as they can only carry small currents, but they could pave the way for a paradigm shift in microchip development. “This could lead to new applications of spintronics, or using the electron spin to carry information,”
[from Physorg][image via Physorg from Yulin Chen and Z. X. Shen]
Encouraging advances is solar power technology from the US DoE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory:
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have set a world record in solar cell efficiency with a photovoltaic device that converts 40.8 percent of the light that hits it into electricity. This is the highest confirmed efficiency of any photovoltaic device to date.
The 40.8 percent efficiency was measured under concentrated light of 326 suns. One sun is about the amount of light that typically hits Earth on a sunny day.
Mmm. I wonder what the efficiency will be under normal conditions (once it’s mass produced)? Still, it’s pretty impressive as a proof of concept:
…the new design uses compositions of gallium indium phosphide and gallium indium arsenide to split the solar spectrum into three equal parts that are absorbed by each of the cell’s three junctions for higher potential efficiencies.
Beautiful. Kudos to humanity’s glorious electrical engineers!
[story here via ElectricalEngineer.com and KurzweilAI.net][image from Alex // Berlin on flickr]
So called hot dry rock geothermal technology has the potential to be a huge generator of emissions-free technology for a relatively steep initial investment but very low ongoing costs. The basic concept is simple — dig a big hole in the ground to where the granite is very hot, pump in water, and let the resultant steam power a turbine. [photo by futureatlas] [slashdot]