The thinnest, most lightweight, and flexible solar cell

by Samantha Englert

An MIT research team has recently developed what is believed to be the thinnest, most lightweight, and flexible photovoltaic cell, with the ability to be installed onto any surface and the potential to charge any portable electronic device. The solar cell is so light that it is able to rest on a soap bubble without the bubble being popped. The real key to this innovation Is a one-process approach in manufacturing the ultra-thin solar cell and the unique substrate that supports it. Continue reading

Geologic Nuclear Waste Storage

by Zoe Dilles

Nuclear energy has enormous potential to alleviate the energy demands of the future, but poses a challenge in its production of nuclear waste. More than 10% of the world’s electricity is generated in nuclear power reactors creating some 10,000 metric tons of radioactive heavy metal waste annually. A sought-after, safe approach to storage is within deep geological repositories but the evolution of these systems over time mechanically, thermally, and hydraulically must be carefully considered. These myriad factors make it quite the engineering feat to accommodate high-level nuclear waste. Not only must the waste be placed in a body of relatively inert rock at depth, particular consideration must be made towards the process of excavation itself. The bore-holes that function as the access points to deep strata with reservoir potential subject the surrounding rock to increased stress which can result in mechanical failure in the form of microcracks, called the excavation damage zone (EDZ). This fracturing can be pinpointed using acoustic emissions that are transmitted through the adjacent intact rock. Continue reading