May 19/26, 2004   

   Solar crystals get 2-for-1
Ordinary solar cells are designed to generate one electron for every photon they absorb. Solar cells made from nanocrystals open another possibility -- two electrons for every photon -- that promises to boost the potential amount of energy that can be harvested from the sun.
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Shape-shifting remakes interfaces
A lump of clay/television remote combination may seem like the unfortunate result of a two year old left alone too long, but it also summarizes a research effort that aims to transform the very nature of input devices. The goal is to make controls that users can reshape on-the-fly in order to change the controls' functions.

Evolution trains robot teams
Using evolution to teach robots complex behavior could eventually give them the ability to adapt to unfamiliar environments. There's a long way to go, but researchers are laying a foundation. A project that evolves game playing behavior in simulation and downloads the results to teams of real robots shows promise.

Group dynamics play out in VR
Melding the characteristics of multi-user online games like EverQuest with those of computer simulations of large spaces yields a virtual environment that allows large numbers of people to interact in the context of a real-world place. One application is office building evacuation drills performed from the comfort of your own home.

Nanotube sparks could cool chips... Nanotube makes metal transistor... Junctions expand nano railroad... Indexes bolster ebook search... Microchannel folds fluids... Electricity turns plastic green.

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