Current Sunlight News and Events

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Biopolymer-coated nanocatalyst can help realize a hydrogen fuel-driven future
While popular as an eco-friendly fuel, hydrogen is difficult to produce efficiently in an eco-friendly manner (through sunlight-induced decomposition of water) due to stability issues of catalysts (chemical reaction facilitators). In a new study, scientists demonstrate water splitting under sunlight using polydopamine-coated zinc sulfide nanorods as a catalyst. In their paper, they report a remarkably enhanced hydrogen production rate and look into the causes, paving the way for a hydrogen-based future. (2021-02-23)

A salt solution for desalinating brine
Solar-powered brine crystallization could alleviate the environmental impacts of seawater desalination. (2021-02-21)

Human impact on solar radiation levels for decades
Based on the long-term Potsdam radiation time series, ETH Professor Martin Wild and his collaborators have shown that variations in the intensity of sunlight over decades are down to ultra-fine, man-made dirt particles in the atmosphere. (2021-02-18)

Luminescent windows generate energy from inside and out
Rice University engineers design and build windowpanes that redirect sunlight or illumination from indoors to edge-band solar cells. (2021-02-15)

Tiny 3D structures enhance solar cell efficiency
A new method for constructing special solar cells could significantly increase their efficiency. Not only are the cells made up of thin layers, they also consist of specifically arranged nanoblocks. This has been shown in a new study by an international research team led by the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), which was published in the scientific journal ''Nano Letters''. (2021-02-02)

Extreme UV laser shows generation of atmospheric pollutant
Hokkaido University scientists show that under laboratory conditions, ultraviolet light reacts with nitrophenol to produce smog-generating nitrous acid. (2021-02-02)

Marine organisms use previously undiscovered receptors to detect, respond to light
Single-celled organisms in the open ocean use a diverse array of newly discovered genetic tools to detect light, even in tiny amounts, and respond. (2021-02-01)

Solar hydrogen: Photoanodes made of alpha-SnWO4 promise high efficiencies
Photoanodes made of metal oxides are considered to be a viable solution for the production of hydrogen with sunlight. Alpha-SnWO4 has optimal electronic properties for photoelectrochemical water splitting with sunlight, but corrodes easily. Protective layers of nickel oxide prevent corrosion, but reduce the photovoltage and limit the efficiency. Now a team at HZB has investigated at BESSY II what happens at the interface between the photoanode and the protective layer. (2021-01-26)

Rates of skin cancer have increased dramatically over recent decades
Incidence rates of skin cancer (cutaneous malignant melanoma) have increased more than 550% in males and 250% in females since the early 1980s in England - according to a new study by Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS). (2021-01-26)

Nuclear war could trigger big El Niño and decrease seafood
A nuclear war could trigger an unprecedented El Niño-like warming episode in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, slashing algal populations by 40 percent and likely lowering the fish catch, according to a Rutgers-led study. The research, published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, shows that turning to the oceans for food if land-based farming fails after a nuclear war is unlikely to be a successful strategy - at least in the equatorial Pacific. (2021-01-25)

How does incident solar radiation affect urban canyons?
Toyohashi University of Technology proposed a numerical bead model to predict the upward-to-downward reflection ratio of glass bead retro-reflective (RR) material purposed for urban heat island (UHI) mitigation and reducing energy consumption. These results will contribute to existing research on the absorption or reflection of solar radiation to improve urban thermal and lighting conditions, and to reduce building energy consumption. (2021-01-25)

Study reveals new insights into the link between sunlight exposure and kidney damage
A new collaborative study from researchers at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the University of Washington and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), reveals unexpected insights into how skin exposure to ultraviolet light can worsen clinical symptoms in autoimmune diseases such as lupus. (2021-01-21)

Making protein 'superfood' from marine algae
Marine microalgae-based cellular agriculture is a promising new way to sustainably produce plant-based 'meat' and healthy 'superfoods' for the future. Researchers at Flinders University's Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development (CMBD) in Australia are responding to growing interest from consumers looking for healthier, more environmentally friendly, sustainable and ethical alternatives to animal proteins. (2021-01-21)

Greenland melting likely increased by bacteria in sediment
Bacteria are likely triggering greater melting on the Greenland ice sheet, possibly increasing the island's contribution to sea-level rise, according to Rutgers scientists. That's because the microbes cause sunlight-absorbing sediment to clump together and accumulate in the meltwater streams, according to a Rutgers-led study - the first of its kind - in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The findings can be incorporated in climate models, leading to more accurate predictions of melting, scientists say. (2021-01-14)

Like plants do: non-classical photosynthesis by earth's inorganic semiconducting minerals
Although much is known about biological photosynthesis, its evolutionary origin remains a mystery. In a recent study, scientists from Peking University, China, investigate the interaction between sunlight and minerals abundant on the Earth surface and propose novel mechanisms behind non-classical photosynthesis. Their work sheds light on the chemical history of our planet and suggests a way in which photosynthesis might have evolved from minerals. (2021-01-12)

Human migration patterns connected to vitamin D deficiencies today
A new study in the Oxford Economic Papers finds that migration flows the last 500 years from high sunlight regions to low sunlight regions influence contemporary health outcomes in destination countries. (2021-01-07)

A polarization-driven guide to making high-performance, versatile solar cells
When solar cells are exposed to sunlight, certain bound ''charge pairs'' are generated in its components, which need to be separated for photocurrent generation. Ferroelectric materials, due to their spontaneous electric polarization, are highly efficient at charge separation but do poorly in light-to-electricity conversion. Now, scientists from Korea have demonstrated using theoretical calculations that antiperovskite oxides, a class of ferroelectric materials, show large absorption of sunlight, making them suitable photoabsorbers for thin film solar cells. (2021-01-04)

Light signal emitted during photosynthesis used to quickly screen crops
University of Illinois researchers have revealed a new approach to estimate the photosynthetic capacity of crops to pinpoint their top-performing traits and speed up the plant screening process, according to a new study in the Journal of Experimental Botany(2020-12-21)

Goldilocks and the three quantum dots: Just right for peak solar panel performance
Maximizing the efficiency of renewable energy technology is dependent on creating nanoparticles with ideal dimensions and density, new simulations have shown. (2020-12-20)

Shedding light on the dark side of biomass burning pollution
Especially toxic, oxidized aerosol from biomass burning contains a large amount of carcinogens and mutagens. It also cause oxidative stress when inhaled as well as a wide range of diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and asthma. A study, led by the FORTH foundation in Greece and EPFL in Switzerland, identifies new processes in the forming of these aerosols and suggests their levels are largely underestimated. (2020-12-14)

Perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells on the magic threshold of 30% efficiency
An HZB team has published a report in the journal Science on the development of its current world record of 29.15% efficiency for a tandem solar cell made of perovskite and silicon. The tandem cell provided stable performance for 300 hours - even without encapsulation. To accomplish this, the group headed by Prof. Steve Albrecht investigated physical processes at the interfaces to improve the transport of the charge carriers. (2020-12-10)

Let the sunshine in: self-cleaning membrane under visible light treatment
The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) reported that the research team led by Dr. Jeehye Byun and Director Seok Won Hong from Water Cycle Research Center developed a membrane material that self-cleans biological contaminants through irradiation of sunlight. According to the team, the newly developed membrane material is expected to significantly reduce the cost of membrane management as the membrane can be reused after just 10 minutes of sunlight irradiation. (2020-12-09)

Study confirms dark coating can reduce satellite reflectivity
Observations conducted by the Murikabushi Telescope of Ishigakijima Astronomical Observatory confirmed that dark coating can reduce satellite reflectivity by half. There are concerns that numerous artificial satellites in orbit could impair astronomical observations, but these findings may help alleviate such conditions. (2020-12-08)

Molecules convert visible light into ultraviolet light with record efficiency
Researchers from Kyushu University have doubled efficiency records for the conversion of visible light into ultraviolet light using triplet-triplet annihilation, achieving 20% efficiency at high light intensities while also greatly improving efficiency even under weak ambient light. Such upconversion systems are promising for boosting the performance of light-powered reactions under light already present in our surroundings, whether from the sun, LEDs, or other sources. (2020-12-04)

Guam's most endangered tree species reveals universal biological concept
Newly published research carried out at the University of Guam has used a critically endangered species to show how trees modify leaf function to best exploit prevailing light conditions. The findings revealed numerous leaf traits that change depending on the light levels during leaf construction. (2020-11-30)

WSU scientists discover new, simple way to classify marine biomes
Washington State University scientists have developed a new way to classify the ocean's diverse environments, shedding new light on how marine biomes are defined and changed by nature and humans. (2020-11-20)

New semiconductor coating may pave way for future green fuels
Hydrogen gas and methanol for fuel cells or as raw materials for the chemicals industry, for example, could be produced more sustainably using sunlight, a new Uppsala University study shows. In this study, researchers have developed a new coating material for semiconductors that may create new opportunities to produce fuels in processes that combine direct sunlight with electricity. The study is published in Nature Communications. (2020-11-18)

New green materials could power smart devices using ambient light
Researchers have developed environmentally friendly materials that could harvest enough energy from indoor light to power wireless smart devices. (2020-11-13)

Scientists develop method to detect charge traps in organic semiconductors
Scientists at Swansea University have developed a very sensitive method to detect the tiny signatures of so called 'charge traps' in organic semiconductors. (2020-11-04)

Plankton turn hunters to survive dinosaur-killing asteroid impact
New research by an international team of scientists shows how marine organisms were forced to 'reboot' to survive following the asteroid impact 66 million years ago which killed three quarters of life on earth. (2020-10-30)

International team tracks record-setting smoke cloud from Australian wildfires
Researchers with the University of Saskatchewan's Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies are part of a global team that has found that the smoke cloud pushed into the stratosphere by last winter's Australian wildfires was three times larger than anything previously recorded. (2020-10-29)

CAM modes provide environment-specific water-saving benefits in a leaf metabolic model
Several plant lineages living in arid environments have evolved crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) photosynthesis, a water-saving mode of carbon fixation in which CO2 uptake and CO2 fixation are temporally separated. Researchers from IPK Gatersleben and the University of Oxford tested whether full CAM is also necessarily the best solution for C3 crops grown in temperate environments and attempted to identify alternative metabolic modes that best balance the trade-off between water loss and photosynthetic productivity under a range of environments. (2020-10-29)

Ice loss due to warming leads to warming due to ice loss: a vicious circle
The loss of huge ice masses can contribute to the warming that is causing this loss and further risks. A new study now quantifies this feedback by exploring long-term if-then-scenarios. (2020-10-27)

Tiny moon shadows may harbor hidden stores of ice
Hidden pockets of water could be much more common on the surface of the moon than scientists once suspected, according to new research led by the University of Colorado Boulder. (2020-10-26)

This white paint keeps surfaces cooler than surroundings, even under direct sunlight
Scientists have developed a white paint that cools below the temperature of its ambient surroundings even under direct sunlight. Their research, published October 21, 2020 in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science, demonstrates a radiative cooling technology that could be used in commercial paints, that could be less expensive to manufacture, and that passively reflects 95.5% of sunlight that reaches its surface back into outer space. (2020-10-21)

ALMA shows volcanic impact on Io's atmosphere
New radio images from ALMA show for the first time the direct effect of volcanic activity on the atmosphere of Jupiter's moon Io. (2020-10-21)

Vitamin D: Consumption of high-dose food supplements is unnecessary
The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has prepared a health risk assessment for products sold on the market as food supplements containing a daily dose of chole-calciferol -- the precursor to active vitamin D -- of 50 or 100 micrograms. These products are representative of certain high-dose preparations used by some consumers to increase their intake of vitamin D. (2020-10-20)

Colorful Perovskites: NREL advances thermochromic window technologies
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report a breakthrough in developing a next-generation thermochromic window that not only reduces the need for air conditioning but simultaneously generates electricity. (2020-10-20)

Radiative cooler that cools down even under sunlight
POSTECH-Korea University joint research team develops a non-energy consuming radiative cooling material. (2020-10-19)

Solar-powered system extracts drinkable water from "dry" air
Researchers at MIT and elsewhere have significantly boosted the output from a system that can extract drinkable water directly from the air even in dry regions, using heat from the sun or another source. (2020-10-14)

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