Energy-harvesting design aims to turn Wi-Fi signals into usable power

Device for harnessing terahertz radiation might enable self-powering implants, cellphones, other portable electronics.

YAMIL LAGE/AFP via Getty Images
Any device that sends out a Wi-Fi signal also emits terahertz waves — electromagnetic waves with a frequency somewhere between microwaves and infrared light.
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A very different, very clean energy source: thin air

A microbial organism pulls electricity from water in the air.

Image source: ncristian/daniiD /Shutterstock/Big Think
  • Hidden in the mud along the banks of Washington D.C.'s Potomac River may be a profound new source of electricity.
  • The microbe makes nanowires that produce a charge from water vapor in ordinary air.
  • Already capable of powering small electronics, it appears that larger-scale power generation is within reach.
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This tech subscription box can rewire your brain for the better

Ready to become a tech wizard? Creation Crate's electronic projects are delivered to your door with everything you need to start building and learning.

Photo: Creation Crate
  • Creation Crate is a tech subscription box that sends monthly projects, with all the components, right to your door.
  • Each project in the curriculum teaches new lessons in electronics and C++ programming. The projects get more challenging as you learn.
  • Working with your hands changes your brain's neurochemistry to reduce stress and increase learning. It's also a great way to prepare kids for a STEM future.
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Artificial photosynthesis produces 'green methane'

A new device shows promising results in its ability to convert CO2 and water into useful fuels.

Photo by Maros Misove on Unsplash
  • Artificial photosynthesis devices have long been touted as a way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into useful products.
  • New research describes a highly efficient and cheap device that could be used to turn waste carbon dioxide into methane.
  • Natural gas, which mainly consists of methane, is a cleaner fuel than coal and has been characterized as a "bridge fuel" prior to transitioning to renewable energy sources, but not everyone thinks it's a good idea to burn yet more hydrocarbons.
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New membrane enables us to harvest 'osmotic' energy from water

You've likely heard of solar energy, but what is osmotic energy?

  • Osmotic power plants harvest energy from the difference in pressure or salinity between salt and freshwater using a semi-permeable membrane.
  • One of the major challenges for this kind of renewable energy, however, has been developing effective and durable membranes.
  • Now, new research demonstrates a durable and effective membrane that could significantly improve osmotic energy collection.
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