Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Watt


Wireless power delivery has the potential to seamlessly power our electrical devices as easily as data is transmitted through the air. However, existing solutions are limited to near contact distances and do not provide the geometric freedom to enable automatic and un-aided charging. We introduce quasistatic cavity resonance (QSCR), which can enable purpose-built structures, such as cabinets, rooms, and warehouses, to generate quasistatic magnetic fields that safely deliver kilowatts of power to mobile receivers contained nearly anywhere within. A theoretical model of a quasistatic cavity resonator is derived, and field distributions along with power transfer efficiency are validated against measured results. An experimental demonstration shows that a 54 m3 QSCR room can deliver power to small coil receivers in nearly any position with 40% to 95% efficiency. Finally, a detailed safety analysis shows that up to 1900 watts can be transmitted to a coil receiver enabling safe and ubiquitous wireless power.

Concepts: Magnetic field, Energy, Resonator, Radio, Power, Nikola Tesla, Watt, Wireless energy transfer


Raman amplification arising from the excitation of a density echelon in plasma could lead to amplifiers that significantly exceed current power limits of conventional laser media. Here we show that 1-100 J pump pulses can amplify picojoule seed pulses to nearly joule level. The extremely high gain also leads to significant amplification of backscattered radiation from “noise”, arising from stochastic plasma fluctuations that competes with externally injected seed pulses, which are amplified to similar levels at the highest pump energies. The pump energy is scattered into the seed at an oblique angle with 14 J sr(-1), and net gains of more than eight orders of magnitude. The maximum gain coefficient, of 180 cm(-1), exceeds high-power solid-state amplifying media by orders of magnitude. The observation of a minimum of 640 J sr(-1) directly backscattered from noise, corresponding to ≈10% of the pump energy in the observation solid angle, implies potential overall efficiencies greater than 10%.

Concepts: Energy, Kinetic energy, Gain, Angle, Joule, Conservation of energy, Amplifier, Watt


Mechanical energy harvesters are needed for diverse applications, including self-powered wireless sensors, structural and human health monitoring systems, and the extraction of energy from ocean waves. We report carbon nanotube yarn harvesters that electrochemically convert tensile or torsional mechanical energy into electrical energy without requiring an external bias voltage. Stretching coiled yarns generated 250 watts per kilogram of peak electrical power when cycled up to 30 hertz, as well as up to 41.2 joules per kilogram of electrical energy per mechanical cycle, when normalized to harvester yarn weight. These energy harvesters were used in the ocean to harvest wave energy, combined with thermally driven artificial muscles to convert temperature fluctuations to electrical energy, sewn into textiles for use as self-powered respiration sensors, and used to power a light-emitting diode and to charge a storage capacitor.

Concepts: Energy, Torque, Mass, Carbon nanotube, Capacitor, Joule, Volt, Watt


An effective way to improve polymer solar cell efficiency is to use a tandem structure, as a broader part of the spectrum of solar radiation is used and the thermalization loss of photon energy is minimized. In the past, the lack of high-performance low-bandgap polymers was the major limiting factor for achieving high-performance tandem solar cell. Here we report the development of a high-performance low bandgap polymer (bandgap <1.4 eV), poly[2,7-(5,5-bis-(3,7-dimethyloctyl)-5H-dithieno[3,2-b:2',3'-d]pyran)-alt-4,7-(5,6-difluoro-2,1,3-benzothia diazole)] with a bandgap of 1.38 eV, high mobility, deep highest occupied molecular orbital. As a result, a single-junction device shows high external quantum efficiency of >60% and spectral response that extends to 900 nm, with a power conversion efficiency of 7.9%. The polymer enables a solution processed tandem solar cell with certified 10.6% power conversion efficiency under standard reporting conditions (25 °C, 1,000 Wm(-2), IEC 60904-3 global), which is the first certified polymer solar cell efficiency over 10%.

Concepts: Photon, Energy, Light, Quantum dot, Solar cell, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Watt


Wearable power supplies: Photo-rechargeable devices integrating power conversion and energy storage functions are useful for supplying power to portable electronics. A recent report introduces a facile method to fabricate flexible dual-functional devices on a single metal wire which paves the way for wearable fabric power suppliers.

Concepts: Vacuum tube, Copper, Capacitor, Textile, Joule, Clothing, Felt, Watt


All-solid-state, flexible, symmetric, and asymmetric microsupercapacitors are fabricated by a simple method in a scalable fashion from laser-induced graphene on commercial polyimide films, followed by electrodeposition of pseudocapacitive materials on the interdigitated in-plane architectures. These microsupercapacitors demonstrate comparable energy density to commercial lithium thin film batteries, yet exhibit more than two orders of magnitude higher power density with good mechanical flexibility.

Concepts: Energy, Fundamental physics concepts, Nuclear fusion, Film, Energy density, Polyimide, Higher Power, Watt


An interfacial coordination nanoparticle successfully exhibited an upconversion blue emission excited by very low-power light irradiation, such as sunlight. The interfacial complex was composed of Yb ions and indigo dye, which formed a nano-ordered thin shell layer on a Tm2O3 nanoparticle. At the surface of the Tm2O3 particle, the indigo dye can be excited by non-laser excitation at 640 nm, following the intramolecular energy transfer from the indigo dye to the Yb ions. Additionally, the excitation energy of the Yb ion was upconverted to the blue emission of the Tm ion at 475 nm. This upconversion blue emission was achieved by excitation with a CW Xe lamp at an excitation power of 0.14 mW/cm(2), which is significantly lower than the solar irradiation power of 1.4 mW/cm(2) at 640 ± 5 nm.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Photon, Light, Sun, Atom, Sunlight, Watt, Indigo


Triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG), a unique technology for harvesting ambient mechanical energy based on triboelectric effect, has been proven to be a cost-effective, simple and robust approach for self-powered systems. However, a general challenge is that the output current is usually low. Here, we demonstrated a rationally designed TENG with integrated rhombic gridding, which greatly improved the total current output owing to the structurally multiplied unit cells connected in parallel. With the hybridization of both the contact-separation mode and sliding electrification mode among nanowire arrays and nanopores fabricated onto the surfaces of two contact plates, the newly designed TENG produces an open-circuit voltage up to 428 V, and a short-circuit current of 1.395 mA with the peak power density of 30.7 W/m2. Relying on the TENG, a self-powered backpack was developed with a vibration-to-electric energy conversion efficiency up to 10.6%. And it was also demonstrated as a direct power source for instantaneously lighting up 40 commercial light-emitting diodes by harvesting the vibration energy from natural human walking. The newly designed TENG can be a mobile power source for field engineers, explorers, and disaster-relief workers.

Concepts: Electricity, Energy, Solar cell, Light-emitting diode, Joule, Volt, Power, Watt


Thermoelectric power generation is one of the most promising techniques to use the huge amount of waste heat and solar energy. Traditionally, high thermoelectric figure-of-merit, ZT, has been the only parameter pursued for high conversion efficiency. Here, we emphasize that a high power factor (PF) is equivalently important for high power generation, in addition to high efficiency. A new n-type Mg2Sn-based material, Mg2Sn0.75Ge0.25, is a good example to meet the dual requirements in efficiency and output power. It was found that Mg2Sn0.75Ge0.25 has an average ZT of 0.9 and PF of 52 μW⋅cm(-1)⋅K(-2) over the temperature range of 25-450 °C, a peak ZT of 1.4 at 450 °C, and peak PF of 55 μW⋅cm(-1)⋅K(-2) at 350 °C. By using the energy balance of one-dimensional heat flow equation, leg efficiency and output power were calculated with Th = 400 °C and Tc = 50 °C to be of 10.5% and 6.6 W⋅cm(-2) under a temperature gradient of 150 °C⋅mm(-1), respectively.

Concepts: Energy, Temperature, Thermodynamics, Heat, Entropy, Heat transfer, Thermoelectric effect, Watt


This article describes a simple, cost-effective, and scalable approach to fabricate a triboelectric nanogenerator (NG) with ultrahigh electric output. Triggered by commonly available ambient mechanical energy such as human footfalls, a NG with size smaller than a human palm can generate maximum short-circuit current of 2 mA, delivering instantaneous power output of 1.2 W to external load. The power output corresponds to an area power density of 313 W/m2 and a volume power density of 54,268 W/m3 at an open-circuit voltage of ~1200 V. The power was capable of instantaneously lighting up as many as 600 multi-color commercial LED bulbs. The record high power output for the NG is attributed to optimized structure, proper materials selection, and nano-scale surface modification. This work demonstrated the practicability of using NG to harvest large-scale mechanical energy, such as footsteps, rolling wheels, wind power, and ocean waves.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Torque, Thermodynamics, Force, Electrical engineering, Joule, Volt, Watt