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Physics World

Physics World has named two research advances by MIT researchers to its list of the Top 10 Breakthroughs of the Year. Prof. Gang Chen and his colleagues were selected for their work “showing that cubic boron arsenide is one of the best semiconductors known to science.” Prof. Asegun Henry, grad student Alina LaPotin and their colleagues were nominated for “constructing a thermophotovoltaic (TPV) cell with an efficiency of more than 40%.”


Researchers at MIT have built a highly efficient thermophotovoltaic cell that converts incoming photons to electricity, reports Kevin Hurler for Gizmodo. “We developed this technology—thermal batteries—because storing energy as heat rather than storing it electrochemically is 10 to 100 times cheaper," explains Prof. Asegun Henry. 


A team of researchers from MIT and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory successfully reached a 30% jump in thermophotovoltaic (TPV) efficiency, reports Robert F. Service for Science. “[TPV] is a semiconductor structure that concerts photons emitted from a heat source to electricity, just as a solar cell transforms sunlight into power,” explains Service.

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Kristin Toussaint writes that a study by MIT researchers finds shutdowns and lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic led to clearer skies and increased solar output in Delhi. “I think we’ve been able to get a glimpse of how the world can look like if we actually have clean air,” says research scientist Ian Marius Peters.

Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics reporter David Grossman writes that MIT researchers have developed a conceptual design for storing renewable energy for the grid in tanks of white-hot molten silicon. The researchers estimate that their system, “would cost around half as much as the current cheapest form of renewable energy ready to scale out to an entire grid.”

Popular Mechanics

A study by MIT researchers demonstrates how air pollution can significantly reduce profits from solar panel installations, reports Avery Thompson for Popular Mechanics. The researchers found that in Delhi, “electricity generation is reduced by more than 10 percent,” Thompson explains, “which translates to a cost of more than $20 million.”


In a Vox article about the increasing scalability of solar photovoltaic power, David Roberts highlights solar cells developed by Prof. Vladimir Bulovic. The solar cells are, “so small and light they could sit atop a soap bubble without popping it,” explains Roberts.


In this article and video, CNBC reporter Anmar Frangoul explores Prof. Vladimir Bulović’s work developing ultra-light and thin solar cells that could be used to power electronic devices and could eventually be scaled to power buildings. Bulović explains that over the next decade, “a very significant fraction of the world’s electricity will be provided by solar.”


Louis Columbus of Forbes writes about MIT Technology Review’s 2017 list of technological breakthroughs, which features several innovations from MIT researchers. Featured MIT research includes a new solar cell design that could double the efficiency of conventional solar cells, and the Cell Atlas, an initiative to catalog every cell type in the human body. 

Live Science

Edd Gent writes for LiveScience that MIT researchers “have devised a new fabrication process that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to print successive layers of polymers into 3D, Transformer-like structures that ‘remember’ their shapes.”


MIT researchers have developed a method to 3-D print heat-responsive materials that can remember their original form, reports Rachel Zimmerman for WBUR. Prof. Nicholas Fang explains that this development is "critical for drug delivery — you could deliver a smaller, more tailored dose depending on the temperature change."

Scientific American

Melissa Lott writes for Scientific American that MIT researchers have created a device that generates steam using sunlight and does not require mirrors or lenses to concentrate the sun’s heat. The device could provide an “inexpensive option for applications ranging from the large scale (e.g. desalination and wastewater treatment) to smaller applications (e.g. residential water heating).”


Salon reporter Scott Eric Kaufman writes that MIT researchers are using light to print 3-D structures that are able to remember their original shapes, and could be used in solar panel tracking and drug delivery. Kaufman writes that the structures are capable “of springing back to their original forms.”

Fox News

FOX News reporter Rob Verger writes that MIT scientists have created a new device that can boil water without electricity. The device can “heat water to 212 degrees under just the heat of the sun, and could be used for applications like sterilizing medical tools in settings without electricity.”

Popular Science

Researchers from MIT and the Masdar Institute of Technology have created a new bubble-wrapped, sponge-like device that can turn water into steam using energy from the sun, reports Mary Beth Griggs for Popular Science. The researchers hope that the design “could one day be used as a component in small desalination or wastewater treatment plants.”