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Scientists invent 'see-through' batteries
by Staff Writers
Palo Alto, Calif. (UPI) Jul 26, 2011

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

U.S. researchers say they've invented a transparent, flexible lithium-ion battery with great potential for applications in cutting-edge consumer electronics.

While partially transparent gadgets such as digital photo frames and cellphones with see-through keyboards have come to market, completely transparent e-book readers or cellphones have remained elusive because of one last hurdle, researchers at Stanford University in California said.

"If you want to make everything transparent, what about the battery?" said Yi Cui, a professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Cui, along with graduate student Yuan Yang, set out to create a clear battery suitable for use in consumer electronics, PhysOrg.com reported Tuesday.

Since the active materials in batteries cannot yet be made transparent, Yang and Cui decided to find a way to design a battery whose nontransparent components were too small to be seen by the naked eye.

"If something is smaller than 50 microns, your eyes will feel like it is transparent," because the maximum resolving power of the human eye is somewhere between 50 to 100 microns, Yang said.

They came up with a mesh-like framework for the battery electrodes with each "line" in the grid being just 35 microns wide, making the entire meshwork area appear transparent.

At present the only limitation to the transparent battery is that it's only about half as powerful as comparably sized conventional lithium-ion batteries.

"The energy density is currently lower than lithium batteries," Yang said. "It is comparable to nickel-cadmium batteries right now."

Yang and Cui are sure advancements in materials science will enable more power from the transparent batteries.

Pure science aside, Cui said, there were other motivations for their work.

"It just looks cool," said Cui. "I want to talk to Steve Jobs about this. I want a transparent iPhone!"

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'Cloud' computers could heat homes
Redmond, Wash. (UPI) Jul 26, 2011 - Microsoft says installing cloud computing servers into homes and businesses could heat them instead of wasting energy by cooling the air in server data centers.

A research paper published by Microsoft in conjunction with Virginia University researchers examined the feasibility of selling "Data Furnaces" to consumers, who would benefit by having their winter heating bills reduced down to almost zero, PhysOrg.com reported Tuesday.

Because servers generate so much heat, the paper envisioned having server "furnaces" in the basements of homes all over the country, clustered around cites where most demand for those servers exists.

Customers would purchase a server unit and have it installed in the basement, where it would heat the home, while the homeowner's existing broadband connection would connect the server to the cloud.

Larger server "farms" with more CPUs could be installed in business buildings, providing more computing power for the cloud company while reducing heating bills for the hosts, the paper said.

Cost savings for cloud computing companies could be significant, the paper's authors said, estimated at from $280 to $324 a year per server.

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WiFi 'napping' doubles phone battery life
Durham NC (SPX) Jul 04, 2011
A Duke University graduate student has found a way to double the battery life of mobile devices - such as smartphones or laptop computers - by making changes to WiFi technology. WiFi is a popular wireless technology that helps users download information from the Internet. Such downloads, including pictures, music and video streaming, can be a major drain of battery. The energy drain ... read more

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