Tech Universe: Wednesday May 2

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

HERE HERE: China's Beidou GPS system now has 13 of its 35 satellites in orbit. That means the system is now partially operational, and competes with the functioning US and Russian systems. 24 out of 31 of Russia's Glonass satellites are operational. Meanwhile Europe has 2 out of 26 of its Galileo GPS satellites in position. Now how about paying more attention to where we're going, rather than where we already are? Space, anyone?

THE SILICENE AGE: Where graphene is a sheet of carbon only 1 atom thick, silicene is a sheet of silicon only 1 atom thick. European scientists created silicene by condensing silicon vapour onto a silver plate. When the scientists measured its properties they were found to be similar to those of graphene. Silicene should work better than graphene in silicon-based electronic devices. Silicene is the kind of name that conjures dinosaurs.

NOVEL TEES: A team at the University of Exeter has invented the most transparent, lightweight and flexible material ever for conducting electricity. The GraphExeter material, adapted from graphene with molecules of ferric chloride, is also transparent over a wide light spectrum. The research team is now developing a spray-on version of GraphExeter. They say the material could be used for many purposes, such as teeshirts or solar panels. Transparent teeshirts?

CLOTHES FORCE: Colorado State University are developing solar-powered clothes from natural fibres such as cotton and linen. The clothes should allow hikers, skiers and others to charge their devices on the go. After modifying the fabrics to make them more durable they incorporated flexible solar panels within the apparel. It sounds like they need to talk to the University of Exeter. Still washable?

HOT OR NOT?: The world's largest solar thermal plant project is at the Princess Noura Bint Abdulrahman University for Women in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 36,305 square metres of collector surface has been installed on the roofs to provide power to heat water for the 40,000 students and staff. Each 10 square metre panel weighs 170 Kg and has been specially mounted to survive fierce sandstorms. How much hot water does an institution in a hot country really need?

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