Insect eyes inspire new solar cell design from Stanford

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Packing tiny solar cells together, like micro-lenses in the compound eye of an insect, could pave the way to a new generation of advanced photovoltaics, say Stanford University scientists.

In a new study, the Stanford team used the insect-inspired design to protect a fragile photovoltaic material called perovskite from deteriorating when exposed to heat, moisture or mechanical stress. The results are published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science (E and ES).

“Perovskites are promising, low-cost materials that convert sunlight to electricity as efficiently as conventional solar cells made of silicon,” said Reinhold Dauskardt, a professor of materials science and engineering and senior author of the study. “The problem is that perovskites are extremely unstable and mechanically fragile. They would barely survive the manufacturing process, let alone be durable long-term in the environment.”

Most solar devices, like rooftop panels ( for example: GOAL ZERO NOMAD 7 PLUS)use a flat, or planar, design. But that approach doesn’t work well with perovskite solar cells.

“Perovskites are the most fragile materials ever tested in the history of our lab,” said graduate student Nicholas Rolston, a co-lead author of the E and ES study. “This fragility is related to the brittle, salt-like crystal structure of perovskite, which has mechanical properties similar to table salt.”

Eye of the fly
To address the durability challenge, the Stanford team turned to nature.

“We were inspired by the compound eye of the fly, which consists of hundreds of tiny segmented eyes,” Dauskardt explained. “It has a beautiful honeycomb shape with built-in redundancy: If you lose one segment, hundreds of others will operate. Each segment is very fragile, but it’s shielded by a scaffold wall around it.”

Using the compound eye as a model, the researchers created a compound solar cell consisting of a vast honeycomb of perovskite microcells, each encapsulated in a hexagon-shaped scaffold just 0.02 inches (500 microns) wide.

“The scaffold is made of an inexpensive epoxy resin widely used in the microelectronics industry,” Rolston said. “It’s resilient to mechanical stresses and thus far more resistant to fracture.”

Tests conducted during the study revealed that the scaffolding had little effect on the perovskite’s ability to convert light into electricity.

“We got nearly the same power-conversion efficiencies out of each little perovskite cell that we would get from a planar solar cell,” Dauskardt said. “So we achieved a huge increase in fracture resistance with no penalty for efficiency.”

Durability
But could the new device withstand the kind of heat and humidity that conventional rooftop solar panels endure?

To find out, the researchers exposed encapsulated perovskite cells to temperatures of 185 degrees Fahrenheit (85 degrees Celsius) and 85 percent relative humidity for six weeks. Despite these extreme conditions, the cells continued to generate electricity at relatively high rates of efficiency.

Dauskardt and his colleagues have filed a provisional patent for the new technology. To improve efficiency, they are studying new ways to scatter light from the scaffold into the perovskite core of each cell.

“We are very excited about these results,” he said. “It’s a new way of thinking about designing solar cells. These scaffold cells also look really cool, so there are some interesting aesthetic possibilities for real-world applications.”

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the world’s largest floating solar plant starts producing power in huainan, china

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in the city of huainan, china, a mass of solar panels ( for example: GOAL ZERO NOMAD 100 ) can be found floating on a mass of land that once used to be used mining. the floating solar plant is based in the south anhui province of china—an area famous for it’s coal-rich land. yet since the area is now flooded due to rainy weather and covered with water ranging from four to ten meters deep, the chinese government have been able to optimize the land to farm a much more sustainable energy source. sungrow—the global leading PV inverter system producer—has announced that the floating solar plant has just been connected to the grid, and can now start supplying solar energy to homes in the area.

the 40-megawatt facility takes the title of the world’s largest floating solar plant, overtaking other floating farms in india and australia. by placing the solar panels on water, the cooler air at the surface helps to minimize the risk of the panels overheating and decreasing in performance. the panels have been linked up a central inverter and combiner box, both supplied by sungrow and customized to work with floating power plants, made to be resistant to high levels of humidity and spray.

a professional from the local government explains the ‘the plant in huainan not only makes full use of this area, reducing the demand for land, but also improves generation due to the cooling effects of the surface.’ the new solar farm forms part of an ongoing initiative from the chinese govenment to rid the country of its bad reputation when it comes to energy consumption, making china the world leader in renewable energy production.

4 Keys to Writing Content That Readers Will Love

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If your content doesn’t provide readers with value, solve a problem, answer a question or entertain, then it doesn’t really serve a purpose. Have you ever had what you thought was a great post idea, but it failed to resonate or, more importantly, get shared? It’s frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. Writing content that readers will love isn’t only about what you write, but how you write it. Here are four keys to help you unlock your creative juices and increase your chances for writing content that readers — and Google — will love.

1. Be irresistible

Great content is all about the art of seduction. Each headline, paragraph and line you write needs to be irresistible so that not only are readers entertained for the moment, but they hungrily wait for the next post they can share with the people they know. Writing irresistible content is not as difficult as you think.

  • It needs to offer a simple, yet practical means of completing a specific task. According to a New York Times study, 94 percent of people say the reason they share content is because they believe it will be helpful. That’s why posts that offer 10 easy, helpful ways to do something perform so well.
  • One of the most common emotions associated with viral content is delight. Irresistible content entertains, so find a way to bring an element of humor to even the most practical content.
  • Credibility matters. If you back up what you write, people will come to trust you and be more likely to spread your content to others. Credible sources benefit your brand and reputation, and also boost your domain authority and Google page rank.

Continue reading “4 Keys to Writing Content That Readers Will Love”

5 Reasons Why You Need to Take Advantage of Influencer Marketing

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Influencer marketing is one of the hottest, and effective, ways to get your brand in front of a massive targeted audience. Why? Because it works, and works extremely well. My agency has been in the influencer marketing game since long before it was a buzzword, and it’s become such a large business that we launched a second agency, blerrp, as a stand-alone influencer marketing brand.

It allows brands to connect with their audience in a more organic way, when compared to traditional forms of digital advertising. There are still some CMOs and executives that aren’t on board yet, so I want to highlight five reasons why influencer marketing is something that, without a doubt, needs to be part of your marketing strategy.

1. Traditional ads are becoming ineffective.

Consumers are becoming immune to traditional ads online. Years ago, every publisher ran the same layout — a banner ad in the header and then multiple ads units in the right-hand sidebar. Even when placed in other locations, they are still easily identified.

Advertisements stick out like a sore thumb these days and consumers are now using software to flat-out prevent ads from being displayed, with 26 percent of desktop users and 15 percent of mobile consumers using blockers to remove ads from publishers’ websites. So, even if you come up with a great ad and experience decent conversion rates, if users have ad blockers enabled they will never encounter your offer.

Continue reading “5 Reasons Why You Need to Take Advantage of Influencer Marketing”

This Is Why You Should Consider Getting a Degree in Marketing

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With marketing jobs growing 9% faster than the national average and the average median pay $124,850 per year for a mid-level marketing manager, a degree in marketing is a smart idea. You can succeed in marketing with a bachelor’s degree in several fields, but a marketing degree makes it easier to land an entry-level job and rise in your field faster. There are several reasons why an undergraduate marketing degree is a good idea and why a graduate degree is even better.

College degrees leading to careers in marketing.

College majors that lead to careers in marketing include majors in business management, marketing, advertising, journalism and English. The latter three – advertising, journalism and English – are usually preferred for jobs in marketing communications and advertising.

Marketing communications, advertising, and public relations rely heavily on strong written and oral communication skills. An English major completes courses in creative and business writing, and literature. These prepare students for writing articles, press releases, marketing copy, advertising copy, radio and video scripts, website copy, and a wide range of materials that fall under the umbrella of marketing communications.

Marketing and business majors prepare students better for careers in business intelligence, analytics, and management. Students completing a marketing major typically take both quantitative and qualitative coursework. They learn how to analyze a potential market, segment customers, write marketing plans, develop budgets, and analyze data.

Lastly, business administration majors may learn more about the managerial side of the business world. In addition to courses on the rudiments of marketing, they also learn how to manage people, processes, and budgets.

There’s no one best major leading to a marketing office near you. Marketing is an interesting discipline in that there’s room for both creative types in the design and marcom office as well as the analytical types in the business intelligence and analytics office. Depending on your passions and natural gifts, you can follow either path to a successful marketing career.

Continue reading “This Is Why You Should Consider Getting a Degree in Marketing”

‘Resist’ opening at Van Vessem Gallery

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When Marika Van Vessem issued a call to artists for artwork in relation to the political climate in the country, the response was overwhelming, she said. Highly esteemed artists from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York and even France were eager to submit pieces for the exhibit, “Resist.”

“Some really incredible people responded. I was totally flabbergasted at the people who said they wanted to be included — it was like people were screaming for an outlet,” said Van Vessem of the cross-section of artists with international backgrounds.

“Resist,” opening this Sunday at the gallery, is a group show featuring the work of 35 artists’ perspectives on the rise of Donald Trump and the social/historical context of the country’s political climate.

“We wanted work that seeks and advocates for political solutions heartier and more potent than the ever-nebulous entity of ‘love.’ Work with bark and bite. Work that celebrates bodies on the periphery, bodies in danger, bodies that might be deemed insufficiently human in a culture saturated with rightism,” Van Vessem wrote in the press release for the exhibit.

Elizabeth Duffy, one of the artists whose work will be on display, has been working on a series of quilts based on aerial views of prisons. A Providence-based artist and art instructor at Roger Williams University, Duffy said she started researching aerial views of prisons after noticing a common quilt pattern in another artist’s quilt of an aerial view of Guantanamo Bay.

“I found it so alarming: this juxtaposition (of prison layouts) with quilts, something we think of as an object of comfort. When I started looking, I found a lot of similarities in the geometries of prisons with common baby quilt patterns,” she said.

The research led to her creating ten quilts of prison aerials from across the country. The Rikers Island X-O patterned one in the exhibit was constructed in response to the story of Kalief Browder, a 16-year-old who was wrongly accused of stealing a fellow student’s backpack. Browder refused to plead guilty to a crime he said he didn’t commit and he was incarcerated for three years awaiting trial at Rikers Island. The subject of a documentary by Jay-Z, Browder was exonerated and released. He committed suicide at age 22. Duffy’s king-sized quilt is approximately the size of the solitary confinement cell where Browder was held for much of his time at Rikers.

Some of the other pieces that will be on display include Rebecca Siemering’s mixed media piece of a raveling flag made out of dental floss and lottery tickets; Brooke Roberts’ “Prison Series #5” with prisoner portraits painted on metal printing sheets, “confined” behind rebar; Duke Robillard’s painting, “Resist”; and Mark Shehan’s take on a schoolroom “Pledge of Allegiance” portrait of FDR.

A small-scale statue of Lady Liberty is the foundation for Bob Rizzo’s piece, “Resist — Before Her Light Goes Out.” Rizzo, founder and curator of the Convergence Festival of Arts in Providence, has exhibited his pieces nationally and internationally. “This piece was created in response to the troubling times we are presently living in,” said Rizzo in his artist statement.

An accompanying wall painting, he wrote, “carries but a few suggestions on resistance. It seems that we must work on many levels to RESIST all the ill will and political evil that is surfacing if we are to survive as the country Lady Liberty represents.”

In addition to those artists, the exhibit features work by Lasse Antonsen, David Barnes, Deborah Baronas, Linda Brown, John Buron, Beth Claverie, Diana Cole, Tom Culora, Lynne de Beer, Tom Deininger, David Formanek, Tayo Heuser, Marc Kehoe, Nermin Kura, Saberah Malik, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Sally Mendzela, Jessica Nissen, Elin Noble, Marcus Reichert, Carol Scavotto, Nancy Shand, Anna Shapiro, Susan Strauss, Kristin Street, Susannah Strong, Mark Wholey, Coral Woodbury and Kelly Zelen.

The gallery and all of the artists will donate a portion of the sale proceeds to organizations such as the ACLU.

The art opening from 2 to 5 p.m. dovetails into a full slate of musical performances, storytellers and live poetry from 3 to 6 p.m. in the main building at Sandywoods. Those scheduled to appear include storyteller Len Cabral, Annie Geisinger (drums); Joanne Friday (meditation); musical acts Quahog Quire, Jon Campbell and Butch McCarthy; and poets Bella Noka, Cheryl Voisinet and Christopher Johnson.

“Resist” will be on display Sunday, April 2 to Sunday, April 30 at the Van Vessem Gallery, 63 Muse Way, Tiverton. The opening reception from 2 to 5 p.m. on April 2 is free and open to the public. The live performances, from 3 to 6 p.m. in the main building at Sandywoods, is free and open to the public as well. Donations will be accepted.