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Lasers zap incandescent blubs to make them greener, putting solar panels on roll-up steel sheets a mile long, peering at penguin poop from space, and if trees produced products, they'd do it like this.

What if you could take a regular incandescent lightbulb, zap it with a powerful laser for a small fraction of a second, and make it about twice as efficient as a regular lightbulb? That seems to be what researchers at the University of Rochester did.

A new manufacturing process from Xunlight takes the idea of roll-up solar chargers to a whole new level, manufacturing roll-up thin film solar panels on stainless steel plates 3 feet wide and up to a mile long. But there's a trade-off.


Nominees for the DMY Award at Designboom include the Idea of a Tree from Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler. It is a machine that "starts producing when the sun rises and stops when the sun settles down. After sunset, the finished object can be ‘harvested'." Each item is as unique as the weather conditions the day it was produced.

TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.