Power and Electrical Engineering

This topic covers issues related to energy generation, conversion, transportation and consumption and how the industry is addressing the challenge of energy efficiency in general.

innovations-report provides in-depth and informative reports and articles on subjects ranging from wind energy, fuel cell technology, solar energy, geothermal energy, petroleum, gas, nuclear engineering, alternative energy and energy efficiency to fusion, hydrogen and superconductor technologies.

Electronic tongue has good taste

Hand-held tasting device displays highly discriminating palate.

A new hand-held electronic tongue promises to give accurate and reliable taste measurements for companies currently relying on human tasters for their quality control of wine, tea, coffee, mineral water and other foods.

Human tasters are still irreplaceable for subtile products such as fine wines and whiskies. But their sense of taste saturates after a while, losing its discriminating edge. The device made by An

Scientists Use Temperature to Tune a Tiny Laser’s Color

The tell-tale signature of most lasers used in everyday applications—from bar-code scanners to pen-size pointers—is a bright red glow. The color is determined by the light’s wavelength, and most lasers emit at only one wavelength. Now a new report published in the current issue of the journal Nature describes a light source measuring only tens of millimeters across that changes color according to temperature.

To make the new laser, Diederik Wiersma and Stefano Cavalieri of the European

Water power

A new material helps to make clean fuel from water.

Scientists in Japan have found a more efficient way to extract hydrogen, the ultimate ’green’ fuel, from water. They have developed a material that uses sunlight to break water molecules into their constituent elements of hydrogen and oxygen 1 .

The material is not yet efficient enough to be commercially viable, but its inventors believe that it can be improved. If they are right, hydrogen may soon be on tap

Semiconductors get on our nerves

Nerve cells soldered to semiconductors cross computing with neuroscience

Scientists in the United States are soldering nerve cells to semiconductors. Christine Schmidt and colleagues from the University of Texas at Austin use a sliver of protein to connect neurons and tiny crystals of semiconductors called quantum dots 1 .

This cross between biology and electronics could have useful applications, including the manufacture of prosthetics operated directly by a

Wall-to-wall power

Solar cells printed like wallpaper.

Solar cells might one day be produced by the roll, as cheaply and easily as wallpaper. Scientists in Arizona are using screen-printing, a technique developed for patterning fabrics, to produce plastic solar cells 1 .

The technique is another step towards the general availability of solar power from flexible devices on plastic sheets or glass panels. The basic materials of a photovoltaic cell are inexpensive, but combining t

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