from the i-blame-gravity dept.
centre21 writes "I've been reading about solar-powered aircraft all over the Internet, as well as solar power in general. But I'm wondering: is it more than just solar cell efficiency that's preventing the creation of a solar-powered airliner? Conspiracy views aside (which may be valid), it seems to me that if I were running an airline the size of United or American, eliminating the need for jet fuel as a cost would be highly appealing. So, I'm asking: what stands in the way of creating true solar-powered airliners?"
alphadogg writes "It's possible that in the future conversations on your cell phone could generate enough electrical power to run the phone, without batteries.
That's one possible outcome of recent work by a team of Texas researchers, who appear to have discovered that by building a certain type of piezoelectric material to a specific thickness (about 21 nanometers, compared to a typical human hair of 100,000 nanometers), you can boost its energy production by 100 percent. And the technology could power not just phones, but a whole range of low-power mobile devices and sensors. The breakthrough is an example of 'energy harvesting' that can convert one kind of energy, such as vibrations or solar rays, into electricity."