So, in browsing my usual feminist playgrounds this morning, I found something totally cool: Materials scientists at MIT have figured out how to make windows that concentrate different colours of light into a focused border around their edges.
To those unfamiliar with the problems of solar power, this might initially just sound like a pretty but useless discovery. However, part of what makes solar power so expensive is that the light that we collect for it is very unfocused, and so you need a very large amount of solar cells in order to collect a modest amount of power. However, with these new materials, we could potentially just line the edges of sun-facing windows with solar cells, while the material concentrates the light directly onto a much smaller amount of solar cells by shining light to its edges. And best of all, you could easily install these in such a way that they look exactly like normal windows, (except maybe with a slight colouring) pre-empting a lot of the complaints about new green technology that it’s ugly and somehow intrusive.
I’m very much looking forward to the day when we can offer this sort of unobtrusive solution as a way to collect power and move towards renewable energy- hopefully this doesn’t end up as just another one of those “oh, that was cool, but what happened to it?” stories.