Research Report: UCSD upgrades solar technology


The UCSD campus has begun producing electricity with newly installed solar panels that automatically track the sun as it crosses the sky and concentrates sunlight onto hundreds of electricity-producing solar cells, each smaller than a shirt button. The system has an average efficiency of 27.2 percent; nearly twice that of conventional silicon photovoltaic technology.

By means of Fresnel lenses (the same principle used to produce a lighthouse beam), the panel focuses sunlight onto small highly efficient solar cells based on a germanium substrate. These solar cells convert the sunlight, concentrated 500 times, directly into electrical energy.

The 220-square-foot, 5.75-kilowatt concentrating photovoltaic system, developed in Germany, was installed at UCSD as a technology demonstration project. All electricity generated is by the system is donated to the university, and faculty and students have access electricity production records for research purposes.

Novel tumor suppressor

La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology researchers studying the role of an enzyme (PLC-beta 3) in allergic diseases have unexpectedly found it also acts as a tumor suppressor.

The discovery of this previously unknown function of PLC-beta 3 came about when mice engineered for allergy research without the enzyme began developing myeloproliferation (a group of disorders characterized by an overproduction of blood cells) and a variety of tumors including lymphomas. Further investigation determined that tumor production hinged on PLC-beta 3’s ability to block the action of a transcription factor protein that can switch on many genes known to control cell proliferation.

The findings appear in the journal Cancer Cell. More research of PLC-beta 3 is required before new therapies directed toward controlling this newly discovered cellular mechanism are undertaken.

Film premieres in cyberspace

The Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) at UCSD and partners including the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) staged the first feature film premiere to be streamed on three continents simultaneously in 4K - the super-high-bandwidth format that offers four times the resolution of high-definition (HD) TV.

The film was shown at a technology festival in Brazil and simultaneously streamed in real time over high-speed optical networks to the Calit2 Auditorium at UCSD and to Keio University in Yokohama, Japan. To accomplish the historic transmission, global networks were upgraded to 10 gigabytes per second to support the high bandwidth requirement.

For decades, the motion picture industry has dreamed of digital cinema deployment. This film premiere brings the technology one step closer to commercial reality.