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Submission + - Japanese Company Develops a Solar Cell With Record-Breaking 26%+ Efficiency (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The silicon-based cells that make up a solar panel have a theoretical efficiency limit of 29 percent, but so far that number has proven elusive. Practical efficiency rates in the low-20-percent range have been considered very good for commercial solar panels. But researchers with Japanese chemical manufacturer Kaneka Corporation have built a solar cell with a photo conversion rate of 26.3 percent, breaking the previous record of 25.6 percent. Although it’s just a 2.7 percent increase in efficiency, improvements in commercially viable solar cell technology are increasingly hard-won. Not only that, but the researchers noted in their paper that after they submitted their article to Nature Energy, they were able to further optimize their solar cell to achieve 26.6 percent efficiency. That result has been recognized by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). In the Nature Energy paper, the researchers described building a 180.4 cm2 cell using high-quality thin-film heterojunction (HJ)—that is, layering silicon within the cell to minimize band gaps where electron states can’t exist. Controlling heterojunctions is a known technique among solar cell builders—Panasonic uses it and will likely incorporate it into cells built for Tesla at the Solar City plant in Buffalo, and Kaneka has its own proprietary heterojunction techniques. For this record-breaking solar cell, the Kaneka researchers also placed low-resistance electrodes toward the rear of the cell, which maximized the number of photons that collected inside the cell from the front. And, as is common on many solar cells, they coated the front of the cell with a layer of amorphous silicon and an anti-reflective layer to protect the cell’s components and collect photons more efficiently.

Comment They're paid enough (Score 0) 244

Actors and musicians don't need any more of my money. They have a lot more wealth than me, they aren't engineers, they don't contribute to any breakthroughs which would advance the species (usually quite the opposite) and ironically they continue to mouth off to anyone who'll listen about diversity. Well piracy is my way of helping with their diversity problems.

Submission + - Living in Space Has Unexpected Effects on Twins 1

slavdude writes: Identical astronaut twins Mark and Scott Kelly participated in a study to compare the effects of living in space for a year (Scott) with those of remaining on Earth (Mark). The preliminary results of the study are quite surprising.

nstead of shrinking, Scott’s telomeres grew longer in-flight. “It was exactly the opposite of what we thought, but that’s what science is all about, right?” said Bailey, with the rueful smile of a seasoned scientist. “We were wrong, that was the first reaction. We now need to correlate our findings with some of the results from other investigations to give us confidence that what we are seeing is real,” she said. Even at this early stage, a whole new set of questions is emerging.

It's not clear yet what caused the lengthening of Scott Kelly's telomeres, though

“Radiation would have to be at the top of my list,” Bailey said. “You might say, ‘Oh this is a great thing, his telomeres are longer, maybe he’ll live longer.’ And yet, like most things, there’s an opposite side of that coin. The opposite side is that’s exactly what cancers do. They turn on telomerase and they maintain their telomere length.” Other possibilities include changes in metabolic rate due to the regimented space diet and intense exercise on-station. Scott Kelly lost 15 pounds in his year on the station. “One big aspect is that nutrition and exercise can positively affect your telomere length, which can be a great predictor of aging,” McKenna said. There is also support for the view that positive attitudes and mindfulness – perhaps as in living out a lifetime dream or goal – can influence telomeres for the better.

Comment Decent New Dumb TV (Score 0) 457

Anyone have a link/links to buy a decent dumb TV? and by decent I mean new this year and not some Chinese junk. Look every couple of months as the computer screen is a bit small but there's no way I'll ever run dirty old android on a TV. Not only for the spyware etc etc, but who knows when it'll stop being supported. Anyway if there are any, thanks in advance, big help.

Submission + - How I Stopped Trying to Upgrade My Life (backchannel.com) 3

mirandakatz writes: In our upgrade-obsessed world, it’s easy to conclude that happiness comes from new and shiny things. As Google X's Hans Peter Brondmo writes, that sort of thinking is wrong. At Backchannel, he details his path toward accepting "Life 1.0," rather than constantly chasing the next upgrade. He writes, "My perceived need for an upgrade was driven by data that reinforced, everywhere I turned, that upgrades are it. More, newer, ever-shinier things will make you even happier. Upgrade your life to Life 7.0 and THAT will bring you the joy and happiness you think others have. I mostly knew it was bullshit, but when the stimuli is overwhelming and it’s continuously training your learners that upgrades in their many forms lead to greater happiness, then after a while it messes with your algorithms, skewing your truth and values."

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A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God.