Harvard University scientists have created solar cells made from a single wire that's just 300 nanometers wide. The technology could be used to provide electricity to tiny sensors, or lead to cheaper solar power.
Each of the tiny wires is made up of layers of silicon that basically take over the job of semiconductors in conventional solar cells. Eventually, the nanowires could be packaged together into larger arrays, and might even lead to less-expensive rooftop solar panels. This research is just one aspect of a larger effort to make solar power more competitive with cheaper sources of energy, and according to scientists, it's an important step forward.—Gregory Mone
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.