Chalk up another point for MIT, bounteous font of great boffinry – their latest offering to the world is a solar cell you can print out onto paper. However, I wouldn’t get too excited about it:
… the new solar cells are created by coating paper with organic semiconductor material using a process similar to an inkjet printer.
The MIT researchers used carbon-based dyes to “print” the cells, which are about 1.5 to 2 percent efficient at converting sunlight to electricity. That falls well short of the more than 40 percent efficiency record for a multi-junction solar cell, or even the recent 19 percent efficiency record for silicon ink-based solar cells. But Vladimir Bulovic, director of the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Research Center, told CNET any material could be used to print onto the paper solar cells if it was deposited at room temperature.
It will still be some time before solar cells can be installed with a staple gun, however, as the paper variety are still in the research phase and are years from being commercialized.
Drill, baby, drill?
So, let’s say the zombie plague is sweeping a nation where medical hardware is expensive, hard-to-come by, and hard to maintain. You need a way of testing the population for signs of contagion that’s cheap, portable, fast, and requires no power or mealthcare infrastructure. So what do you do?
You get them to lick the edge of a bit of paper about the size of a postage stamp.
(Non-apocalyptic deployments of this technology are also available. Terms, conditions and patents may apply in some legal theatres; please consult your biosolicitor.)
Some media have crossed into the digital realm so completely the older version is struggling. Music seems to be first on the chopping block, with DRM-free mp3s small, easily transported and potentially cheaper yet still providing artists with a living, whether by the Radiohead route or by promoting their tours. Television is feeling the pinch, with UK police shutting down the popular link site tv-links earlier this week (although they don’t know if they can actually charge him with anything for just providing links to non-hosted content). The MPAA has been fighting new media for years but movies are becoming legally available on sites like Jaman and Joost.
As of yet print media hasn’t caught on. There’s some ebook piracy and sales out there but the share is small – authors like Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross have seen increases rather than decreases in their book sales by offering their ebooks for free. More and more people use blogs and online newspapers for current events but staring at a computer screen isn’t conducive to reading long tracts of text. Whilst the short story market is dwindling, there hasn’t really been a consistent idea about what will replace chapbooks and magazine.
Advances in epaper might be getting us to the point where that might happen. Bridgestone’s new epaper that bends and folds like real paper whilst displaying digital information is a really promising start. Together with advances in wireless internet coverage and computer size, epaper offers a promising new business model for fiction, especially shorter works. Imagine subscribing your epaper to posts on economy from the Guardian, breaking news from the Washington Post, sport highlights from nfl.com and BBC, fiction from Asimovs and Strange Horizons and maybe a few stories and posts from Futurismic, all arriving on publication to the paper in your hands, ready to read. But like all these new media markets, it’ll need to be sustainable, DRM-free and reasonably priced. Are we prepared to make that change?
[link and image via technovelgy]
In computers, we have software and hardware. Jokingly, the human brain is sometimes called wetware. Up next: pulpware!
OK, technically it’s hardware–wires, sensors and computer chips–embedded in paper or cardboard. A spiral of conductive ink can be a speaker, or a touch sensor. Two layers, and a page can tell when it is being bent. Among the possible creations are books that talk or light up when their pages are turned (personally, I can’t think of anything more annoying!), or boxes that can tell you how much their content weighs. (Maybe with voice messages. "Don’t even try it, buddy! I’m a hernia-in-waiting!")
The project was outlined at the recent International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing in Innsbruck, Austria. Here’s a video of the production process and some applications. Here’s the original paper. And here’s the research project’s website.
(Via New Scientist Tech.)
(Photo from MIT.)
[tags]computers, MIT, technology, paper[/tags]