New stories on shed light on smart windows, solar paint, and more.

It’s July: Vacation Time.

I’ll be by the ocean this week, soaking up the Sun. Then, after my trip, I’ll be back in the office, badly sunburned and searching online for giant umbrellas.

This week on, we feature stories that, like an accidental nap on the beach, remind us of the immense, relentless power of the Sun.

Smarter Windows

In fact, a new “smart window” from Princeton University uses a beach’s scorching UV rays to power itself. By applying a laminate to existing windows, the system offers a new, affordable way of controlling a building’s heating and cooling. Read a Q&A with Princeton Professor Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo.

Better Paint

Another Sun-powered technology, a solar paint, absorbs and splits water atoms, resulting in hydrogen that could someday be used to support fuel cells and conventional combustion engines. According to RMIT lead researcher Dr. Torben Daeneke, the paint converts a brick wall into “energy-harvesting real estate.” Read an interview with RMIT Distinguished Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh.

Join the Debate

Not all of this month’s stories, however, featured solar technology. Two Web-only articles led to plenty of comments from Tech Briefs readers.

‘Instantly Rechargeable’ Battery Drives New Electric Car Possibilities:

Could a new flow battery be a practical way of supporting electric vehicles?

  • One commenter (KingMel) writes: “The key issue has always been the energy density and longevity of the flow battery system. If the assertions in this article are valid, then the flow battery may become an integral part of our transportation system over the next couple of decades.”

Super-Strong 'Glassy Carbon' is Elastic and Electric:

Could the new material be scalable and affordable enough for manufacturing?

  • A reader (William Bobbitt) responds: “The promise of this material is tantalizing, considering the potential uses. Nonetheless, the devil is in the details. Any manufacturing process that requires 1800 deg F and 1,837 tons of pressure to produce a product will be enormously expensive to develop and bring to market.”

Add to the ongoing conversation! Check out the stories, and share your thoughts with fellow design engineers.

Thanks for reading. Be on the lookout for more Web-exclusive news about today’s cutting-edge technologies. For now, I have to make like a Princeton University smart window and get some Sun!