From the MIT Technology Review, the 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2017:
Paying with Your Face
Practical Quantum Computers
The 360-Degree Selfie
Hot Solar Cells
Gene Therapy 2.0
The Cell Atlas
Botnets of Things
The piece on Hot Solar Cells caught my eye:
Solar panels cover a growing number of rooftops, but even decades after they were first developed, the slabs of silicon remain bulky, expensive, and inefficient. Fundamental limitations prevent these conventional photovoltaics from absorbing more than a fraction of the energy in sunlight.
But a team of MIT scientists has built a different sort of solar energy device that uses inventive engineering and advances in materials science to capture far more of the sun’s energy. The trick is to first turn sunlight into heat and then convert it back into light, but now focused within the spectrum that solar cells can use. While various researchers have been working for years on so-called solar thermophotovoltaics, the MIT device is the first one to absorb more energy than its photovoltaic cell alone, demonstrating that the approach could dramatically increase efficiency.