30 July 2014 —IT giant Google is offering a million-dollar reward to engineering innovators who can design a functional solar power inverter the size of a tablet or iPad. The Little Box Challenge aims to find a functional technology which dramatically reduces the currently esky-sized inverter unit required to convert the power generated by solar photovoltaic systems into the alternating current used for household and office equipment.

The global, open competition will be won by the engineering team who can design and build the kW-scale inverter with the highest power density, with 50 watts a cubic inch as the minimum baseline. The challenge is being co-sponsored by The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

The IP of the winning technology will remain the property of the team that designs it, enabling them to take full advantage of commercialisation opportunities.

Teams need to register here by 30 September.

Research at Google is also making a number of grants available to academics in conjunction with the prize as part of a university grant scheme. The grants are for research into increasing the power density for DC-to-AC power conversion. Find further details here.