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Solar-Cell Squabble

Organic photovoltaics could be dirt cheap, but their efficiency is in dispute

9 min read
Solar-Cell Squabble
Illustration: Greg Mably

For a while, 2007 looked to be the year when organic photovoltaic (PV) technology would finally come into its own. Reports from leading research labs claimed record-setting breakthroughs in performance. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) began welcoming investigators working on organic PV to compete for its mainstream solar-research grants, and venture capitalists invested tens of millions of dollars in organic PV development firms like Konarka Technologies, in Lowell, Mass., and Plextronics, in Pittsburgh.

Spurring all this interest was the promise of a much cheaper and more versatile source of solar power. Unlike traditional semiconductors such as silicon, this newer class of PV employs carbon-based plastics, dyes, and nanostructures and can be manufactured via a printing process that would be far cheaper than the high-temperature vacuum processing used for inorganics. Organic PV is also much more flexible and lighter in weight than inorganics, suggesting an enormous range of uses, including portable battery chargers and power-producing coatings for roofing shingles, tents, and vehicles.

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Deep Learning Gets a Boost From New Reconfigurable Processor

The ReAAP processor allows AI to be faster, more efficient

2 min read
different colored beams of light shooting up
iStock

This article is part of our exclusive IEEE Journal Watch series in partnership with IEEE Xplore.

Deep learning is a critical computing approach that is pushing the boundaries of technology – crunching immense amounts of data and uncovering subtle patterns that humans could never discern on their own. But for optimal performance, deep learning algorithms need to be supported with the right software compiler and hardware combinations. In particular, reconfigurable processors, which allow for flexible use of hardware resources for computing as needed, are key.

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Rory Cooper’s Wheelchair Tech Makes the World More Accessible

He has introduced customized controls and builds wheelchairs for rough terrain

6 min read
portrait of a man in a navy blue polo with greenery in the background
Abigail Albright

For more than 25 years, Rory Cooper has been developing technology to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Cooper began his work after a spinal cord injury in 1980 left him paralyzed from the waist down. First he modified the back brace he was required to wear. He then turned to building a better wheelchair and came up with an electric-powered version that helped its user stand up. He eventually discovered biomedical engineering and was inspired to focus his career on developing assistive technology. His inventions have helped countless wheelchair users get around with more ease and comfort.

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Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Modeling and simulation in Simulink and Simscape

1 min read
Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Design and simulate a fuel cell system for electric mobility. See by example how Simulink® and Simscape™ support multidomain physical modeling and simulation of fuel cell systems including thermal, gas, and liquid systems. Learn how to select levels of modeling fidelities to meet your needs at different development stages.