March 10/17, 2004   

   Red wine mends solar cells
Generating electricity from sunlight is still relatively expensive after decades of research and development, but advances in thin film semiconductor materials are opening new avenues to generating cheap, clean energy. Adding a bath to the solar cell manufacturing process could lead to a dramatic boost in efficiency. And it even works with red wine.
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Search tool aids browsing
When you're looking for something on the Internet, search engine results give you many trails to follow. But when a trail goes cold you have to backtrack to the search page and try another. A tool that uses your query to rank the relevance of links on every page could help you zero in on your target.

Tiny pumps drive liquid circuits
Electrical circuits are all about the flow of electricity. With the marriage of microfluidics and plastic electronics, electrical circuits can also be about the flow of fluids. Think tiny pumps that start themselves.

X-shape pulses hold together
Light pulses spread out and eventually disappear, an effect that scientists and engineers have been struggling to overcome for decades. It turns out that under certain conditions nature has the solution. Short, intense light pulses fired through certain types of crystal spontaneously take on an X shape and don't spread out. The unusual shape provides a precise balance of opposing forces, a sort of yin-yang of optics.

Patterned fiber makes tiny scope... Atom spouts photons on demand... Channel shapes split microdrops... Chip controls neural connection... Atomic microscope spots viruses... Charges make micro whirlpools.

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