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Computer in Wrapping-Paper Form

New Manufacturing Approach May Lower Solar Energy Costs

Driven by rapid global industrialization, finite fossil fuel reserves, and the high cost of many alternative energy options, meeting the world’s energy challenge may demand novel solutions. One potential solution has its roots in the ubiquitous industrial invention: the factory.

Investigators at SUNY Binghamton's Center for Advanced Microelectronics Manufacturing (CAMM) -- the only center of its kind in the United States -- are giving factory production of solar energy cells a modern makeover. Their approach includes the use of “continuous electronic sheets,” something like a computer flattened into wrapping paper to perform its many functions. They describe their new approach in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, which is published by the American Institute of Physics.

Explains lead researcher Howard Wang, "The goal is to apply the next generation of manufacturing to addressing the energy challenge in the way solar cells are produced. We think nanoscale engineering is the key to this new low-cost opportunity for enhancing the solar energy landscape."

Doing this includes: the use of large-scale, flexible format; roll-to-roll manufacturing, a process resembling the printing process of newspapers; and the use of continuous electronic sheets.

To reach this goal, the Wang team devised a promising hybrid material that has high structural quality but is compatible with the roll-to-roll processing technique.

"By driving the cost of production down and maintaining quality with the hybrid," says Wang, "we can create a product that can be competitive with silicon-based products."

The article, "Vertically Aligned ZnO Nanodisks and Their Uses in Bulk Heterojunction Solar Cells" by Congkang XU, Kaikun Yang, Liwei Huang, and Howard Wang (State University of New York, Binghamton) appears in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.

Journalists may request a free PDF of this article by contacting

Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy (JRSE) is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) that covers all areas of renewable and sustainable energy-related fields that apply to the physical science and engineering communities. As an electronic-only, Web-based journal with rapid publication time, JRSE is responsive to the many new developments expected in this field. The interdisciplinary approach of the publication ensures that the editors draw from researchers worldwide in a diverse range of fields. See:
The American Institute of Physics is a federation of 10 physical science societies representing more than 135,000 scientists, engineers, and educators and is one of the world's largest publishers of scientific information in the physical sciences. Offering partnership solutions for scientific societies and for similar organizations in science and engineering, AIP is a leader in the field of electronic publishing of scholarly journals. AIP publishes 12 journals (some of which are the most highly cited in their respective fields), two magazines, including its flagship publication Physics Today; and the AIP Conference Proceedings series. Its online publishing platform Scitation hosts nearly two million articles from more than 185 scholarly journals and other publications of 28 learned society publishers.

Jason Socrates Bardi | Newswise Science News
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