Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Solar energy: Charged for the future

Once regarded as costly and impractical, solar technology is now poised to play a larger role in the future, thanks to new developments that could result in lower costs and improved efficiency.

Potential applications include cell phones, computers, automobiles, homes and office buildings. The American Chemical Society will address the progress and challenge of this technology during a first of its kind symposium, "Science and Technology of Next Generation Photovoltaics," from Sunday, Sept. 10, through Tuesday, Sept. 12, in San Francisco during the Society's 232nd national meeting. All papers in this symposium, which begins at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, will be presented at the San Francisco Marriott, Salon C2.

Here are a few highlights of research toward improving the efficiency of solar cells:

"Plastic" solar cells show gains in performance -- Nobel Prize winner Alan J. Heeger, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of California, Santa Barbara, say that new developments in "plastic" solar cells, particularly chemical modifications to titanium oxide layers, could provide efficiencies of up to 15 percent in the future. He already has developed plastic solar cells with efficiencies between 5 percent and 6 percent, considered among the highest to date for this type of solar cell. These developments could pave the way for wider use of plastic solar cells, a type of conducting polymer, which are increasingly seen as a low cost, efficient and long-lasting source of solar energy. Heeger, a professor at the University, shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his contributions toward the discovery of plastics that conduct electricity. His presentation will be delivered by study co-author and University colleague Kwanghee Lee, Ph.D. (PMSE 020, Sunday, Sept. 10, 8:35 a.m.)

Ultrathin, dye-sensitized solar cells called most efficient to date -- Researchers in Switzerland have developed dye-sensitized solar cells that have reached the highest efficiencies to date among a new generation of thin film photovoltaic devices that show promise as a low-cost energy source. The new cells, composed of an ultrathin film of nano-sized semiconductor crystals such as titanium dioxide, have been shown in laboratory studies to produce efficiencies of 11 percent, whereas most new solar cells have efficiencies between 4 percent and 5 percent, according to Michael Graetzel, Ph.D., a chemist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne. These cells, which can be engineered into inexpensive, flexible sheets, could be used as coatings on glass windows to supply electric power to homes and businesses or as coatings on tents to supply power for soldiers in the field. The cells could be used in consumer applications within two to three years, the researcher says. (PMSE 174, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 8:30 a.m.)

Carbon nanotubes could boost efficiency of solar cells -- Researchers at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana say they have found a new and promising way to boost the efficiency of solar cells. In preliminary studies, carbon nanotubes that were engineered into the architecture of semiconductor solar cells (composed of cadmium sulfide, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) resulted in a doubling of the cells' photoconversion efficiencies (converting light into energy). In some cases, the efficiency of solar cells jumped from 5 percent to 10 percent in the presence of carbon nanotubes, according to Prashant Kamat, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry at the University. Carbon nanotubes also could be added to other types of solar cells, such as dye-sensitized solar cells and organic solar cells based on conducting polymers, to create similar or even stronger efficiency boosts, he says. (PMSE 094, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 11:20 a.m.)

Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht 'Super yeast' has the power to improve economics of biofuels
18.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Engineers reveal fabrication process for revolutionary transparent sensors
14.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

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: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>