1Eight Ways Solar Power Is Driving New-Gen Computing
2Solar-Powered Data Centers
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts and MIT made waves when they announced their new 6-kwh net zero facility. The center is not just powered by solar; it will also complete research on more sustainable solar batteries. But it’s only the next iteration in a long line of renewable data centers. Earlier this year, Switch—a data center builder serving DreamWorks, Google and Fox, to name a few customers—also announced two solar projects.
3Advancing Mobile Charging
Advances in solar materials may soon fit in your hand. For example, Ubiquitous Energy has developed a clear film coating that contains photovoltaic properties. That not only means it could make mobile charging much easier, but that it could also be applied toward powering other small displays and signs. It may even one day sit in windows and harvest energy to power homes.
Solar products may be instrumental in expanding the growth of smart objects. While solar cells work well for residential power, they’re stiff and inflexible. Organic photovoltaics, which are made from plastic, are much less rigid. This means they could be useful for powering smart outdoor objects. Soon you may see organic photovoltaics tracking railroads, monitoring reservoirs and working in numerous other use cases.
Engineers have been testing rooftop solar panels for electric cars for years, so adding the panels to driverless cars was the next logical step. Recently, Elon Musk declared that he wanted to make a self-driving Tesla. Meanwhile, Ford has been developing a solar-powered model that gets a hit of extra charging power from a Fresnel lens.
6Increasing Global Internet Access
Early this year, Google announced plans to deliver Internet via drones that are powered by solar panels. This comes after Facebook launched a similar initiative that would provide WiFi to remote areas. CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan would incorporate laser technology that would allow signals to be transmitted 10 times faster than they are today, which certainly seems to point to developments in WiFi speed.
Big data sounds scary, but it can be used for more than just creating the first Skynet. Solar-powered smart trackers have the potential for all kinds of uses, from keeping your pet safe to providing data about animal behavior. They might even be able to help us tell how diseases progress and spread. This technology also will get a boost from solar cells.
8Bolstering Wearable Tech
Wearables can do much more than just track movement. Google recently filed for a patent for a contact lens complete with tiny solar cells. These cells would harvest electricity from light and camera flashes, as well as sensing environmental and biological data about the user. Google imagines it having medical applications; it could monitor a diabetic’s glucose levels, for example.
9Developing 3D Printing
Solar may not need to rely on sunlight much longer. With the help of 3D printers, researchers have developed solar cells that function better in cloudy conditions. Materials for ink have long been an issue plaguing the 3D community, but by dissolving solar cells in solution, researchers broke them down to the molecular level. That way, they can be printed into any shape you can imagine, including the solar trees shown in this photo.