Friday, October 14, 2016

Quantum-dot coating could pull solar energy from your windows

Large-scale photovoltaic window, LANL photo.

In big cities, sometimes buildings that don’t have a lot of roof space for solar cells still have large windows that could harness light for electricity. Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico, reported yesterday in Nature Energy that a thin film of quantum dots on everyday glass could be the key to achieving acceptable efficiency in window photovoltaic systems at low cost. (Full story) 

Quantum-dot solar windows evolve with 'doctor-blade' spreading

Los Alamos team holds a large prototype solar window.
Left to right: Jaehoon Lim, Kaifeng Wu, Victor Klimov,
Hongbo Li. LANL photo.

In a paper this week for the journal Nature Energy, a Los Alamos National Laboratory research team demonstrates  an important step in taking quantum dot, solar-powered windows from the laboratory to the construction site by proving that the technology can be scaled up from palm-sized demonstration models to windows large enough to put in and power a building.

"We are developing solar concentrators that will harvest sunlight from building windows and turn it into electricity, using quantum-dot based luminescent solar concentrators," said lead scientist Victor Klimov. Klimov leads the Los Alamos Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics (CASP). (Full story)

Also in the Sacramento Bee

Rocket motor concept could boost CubeSat missions

Six motor array test firing, LANL image.

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a rocket motor concept that could pave the way for CubeSats zooming across space. These small, low-cost satellites are an easy way for scientists to access space, but are lacking in one key area, on-board propulsion.

“The National Academy of Sciences recently convened a meeting to look at science missions in CubeSats,” said Bryce Tappan, an explosives chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and lead researcher on the CubeSat Propulsion Concept team, “and identified propulsion as one of the primary categories of technology that needs to be developed." (Full story)

See the video on YouTube

Science on the Hill: On track for a clean, hydrogen-powered future

3D image of an experimental fuel cell
membrane electrode assembly. LANL image.

Fuel cells have long been one of the most tantalizing clean-energy solutions. They offer electricity from an abundant energy carrier — hydrogen. Their energy density and scalability allow them to power everything from cell phones to cars, homes to the electric grid itself. They are more than twice as efficient at converting fuel to power than internal combustion engines. They use hydrogen that can be produced by using renewable energy such as solar or wind power to split water — H2O —into hydrogen and oxygen. And since the only byproducts of fuel cells are water and heat, they do all this without spewing climate-warming carbon dioxide. (Full story)

Stopping bridge collapses

Bridge collapse in India, from the Economist.

If their foundations begin to erode, the pattern of vibrations will change, much as the pitch of a tuning fork varies with its length. Accelerometers, Luke Prendergast of Delft University of Technology suggests, could monitor such changes and forewarn of problems.

Accelerometers are not the only way to measure vibrations, though. David Mascareñas of Los Alamos National Laboratory videos them. He then uses a computer algorithm to analyse the resulting footage and determine a structure’s properties, even if the vibrations recorded have an amplitude of less than a millimeter. (Full story)

Warm dense matter simulation sheds light on fusion

Warm and dense: simulation of electron
density, from Physics World.

A new computer simulation of warm dense matter that could improve laser plasma fusion has been unveiled by physicists in Germany, the US and the UK. The simulations allowed Matthew Foulkes and colleagues at Imperial College London, Christian Albrechts University Kiel and Los Alamos National Laboratory to determine the phase diagram of warm dense matter – which exists in the temperature range between condensed matter and plasma (1000–100,000 K) and is characterized by hot electrons that move around within tightly packed atoms. (Full story)

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