We are the new renewables – IEEE Spectrum


Big Picture features technology through the lens of photographers.

Per month, IEEE Spectrum Selects the most amazing tech photos recently taken by photographers around the world. We choose pictures that reflect important progress, a trend, or those pictures that are amazing to look at. We feature all of the photos on our website, and one also appears in our monthly print edition.

Enjoy the latest photos, and if you have suggestions, leave a comment below.

juice box

For many years, environmentalists have been aspiring to zero-energy buildings. Much effort has been devoted to making lighting, heating, and cooling more efficient so that buildings use less energy. But it was not possible to reach the goal of net zero without innovations renewable-Energy generation that allows structures to generate energy on me-location. Residential and commercial buildings can now be outfitted with roof tiles that double as solar panels, or with rooftop boxes like this low-profile unit that converts gusts of wind into electric current. this WindBox Mounted on the roof of a building in Rouen, France, the turbine is 1.6 meters high and has an area of ​​4 square meters (which leaves plenty of space for solar panels or tiles). The unit, which weighs 130 kilograms, can generate up to 2,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year (enough to meet nearly a quarter of the energy needs of a typical American household).

Lou Benoist/AFP/Getty Images

This is the giant horn antenna that was used in physics research that led to the discovery of the cosmic radiation background, which provided support for the Big Bang theory. Two Bell Labs researchers who had painstakingly tried to eliminate the noise from certain radio signals eventually realized that the noise did not originate from an antenna malfunction. It was, in fact, one of the artifacts of the big bang that created the universe. Now, this antenna, which was crucial to their work, is threatened with dismantling. The Holmdel, N.J., research site is now in private hands, and could be slated for rezoning and redevelopment, which could eliminate the tool that made the Nobel Prize-winning discovery possible.

Bettmann / Getty Images

The incandescent lamp, in addition to being a world-changing invention, is a typical example of something that wastes a lot of energy, giving it heat instead of light. Our bodies get rid of a ton of heat, too. Since thermogenesis is an inevitable part of our metabolic processes, the researchers worked to turn the flashlight moment—the idea of ​​harnessing body heat so that all that heat energy isn’t wasted—into a practical device that produces electrical energy. In fact, thermoelectric generators, or TEGs, have been around for a while. But the new generation of TEGs uses cheaper, less toxic materials that convert thermal and kinetic energy into electricity more efficiently than previous versions. In the TEG pictured here, the hot and cold regions represented by the zebra stripes produce a temperature gradient that creates a voltage difference. The result: electric current. Its creators, researchers at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, in South Korea, envision weaving such devices into fabrics that one day our clothes could serve as power outlets for the ubiquitous portable electronic gadgets.

Korea University

Millimeter wave power amplifiers are essential for applications that require the highest possible data rates – mostly communications over great distances. But with a price tag of over $1 million each, it’s easy to see why there was an urgent push for production innovation to reduce cost. Diana Gamzina, founder and CEO of Davis, California startup Elve Speed, embodies the mission of providing high-speed wireless connectivity to remote and urban areas. To achieve this, her company has turned to 3D printing of millimeter waveforms to bypass the high-precision manual manufacturing processes that make amps so pricey.

Gabriela Hasbon


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