Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Next-generation solar cells could put power stations in space

08.01.2003


RIT scientists develop nanomaterials for NASA program



Someday, large-scale solar power stations in space could beam electricity to the surface of the moon, the earth and other planets, decreasing our dependence on a dwindling fossil-fuel supply.

Scientists at Rochester Institute of Technology are developing the next generation of solar cells, advancing the technology that could put a solar power system into earth’s orbit.


The National Science Foundation recently awarded a three-year, $200,000 grant to Ryne Raffaelle and Thomas Gennett, co-directors of RIT’s NanoPower Research Laboratory, to develop nanomaterials--no bigger than a billionth of a meter--in support of NASA’s space solar power program.

The notion of space solar power--discounted as farfetched and silly after the energy crunch of the 1970s--never completely went away. Some scientists and other visionaries remained intrigued by the idea of orbiting, football-field sized "blankets" of solar cells that could generate tremendous amounts of power. NASA’s program is revisiting the idea, pushing the latest technology as far as it will go.

Raffaelle and Gennett are working with scientists from the Ohio Aerospace Institute and Phoenix Innovations Inc. to develop a new-and-improved solar cell that is light, thin and highly efficient. This solar cell, a thin-film device, will sandwich tiny granules of semi-conductor material, known as Quantum dots, and carbon nanotubes.

"In order to put football-field sized arrays in space, they need to be lightweight and flexible, and able to withstand the rigors of space," Raffaelle says. "Today’s technology isn’t good enough, but with the theoretical possibilities offered by nanomaterials it could become a reality."

Gennett adds: "The types of solar cells that we are working to develop are a clear departure from even the most advanced crystalline solar cells used in the space industry today. If we are successful it will result in a complete paradigm shift in space solar power generation."


Rochester Institute of Technology’s Nanopower Research Laboratory in the College of Science conducts research on the generation and storage of energy using nanostructured materials, especially photovoltaic, waste heat recovery, and battery- and fuel-cell research.

For breaking news stories, hot-topic trend pieces and interesting perspectives, visit RIT’s news site and online experts database. To connect with RIT subject matter experts, searchable by name and expertise, go to http://www.rit.edu/news and click on "RIT Experts."

Susan Murphy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rit.edu/
http://www.rit.edu/news

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Did you know that the wrapping of Easter eggs benefits from specialty light sources?
13.04.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH

nachricht To e-, or not to e-, the question for the exotic 'Si-III' phase of silicon
05.04.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>