For some time, few people took the notion of an electric bus seriously. In 2011, Chinese automotive manufacturer BYD Co. revealed an early model at an industry conference in Belgium, and was met with laughter.

Isbrand Ho, managing director of BYD in Europe, remembered the laughter from that day directed at BYD for “making a toy,” but continued, “And look now. Everyone has one.”

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Researchers have created energy-harvesting yarn from tightly coiled carbon nanotubes, which can be activated by the electrolytes in a simple saline solution. With no need for a battery, these “twistron yarns” have numerous potential applications in wearable, medicinal and oceanic contexts.

How twistron yarn is made

An international research team led by scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) and Hanyang University in South Korea constructed the yarn from carbon nanotubes—hollow cylinders 10,000 times smaller in diameter than a human hair. After twist-spinning sheets of carbon nanotubes—with a motion similar to a spinning wheel—to create strong, lightweight yarns, researchers introduced elasticity with additional twist until the yarns coiled akin to an over-twisted rubber band.

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[DIGEST: Christian Science Monitor, Phys.org, Science Advances, Economist]

Businesses and individuals who have been holding out until solar power technology gets cheaper and better should get ready to jump in the game. Solar energy is about to become brighter, more efficient and more affordable than ever, thanks to recent developments in solar cell technology.

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