Friday, June 13, 2014

Nanotechnology comes to solar cells

Solar technology is still in the amazing-innovative stage.  I personally don't even try to follow all the advances in better ways to produce these amazing bits of technology.  There are just too many of them.  There are probably still some amazing breakthroughs in the efficiency of converting sunlight into electricity and lowering the costs (in both money and energy) of producing the cells themselves.  It going to be very interesting to see which of the solar strategies will win out.

The story below was sent to me by KF.  The nano-tech story is probably WAY more interesting than this breathless article would make it.  But then, there have always been goofy predictions about new inventions so why should that stop?

New nano-dots could mean cheap, paint-on solar cells

They're too tiny to see, but a new form of light-sensitive nanoparticles could flood the world with solar power.

by Eric Mack @ericcmack  June 10, 2014

Colloidal quantum dots sound like something that young Jedi might use for training in a starfighter flight simulator, but they're actually a new form of solid nanoparticles that could lead to the creation of cheaper, lighter, and more flexible solar cells.

The new material could also be used to make better sensors, infrared lasers, remote controls, LEDs -- even satellites.

The dots were developed by a group led by post-doctoral researcher Zhijun Ning and Professor Ted Sargent at the University of Toronto. The team achieved more efficient light absorption in the material by solving a problem in which a type of semiconductor loses its electrons when exposed to the oxygen in the air. The new material can instead remain rich in electrons, even in the open air.

In addition to absorbing the sun's rays more efficiently, "With this new material we can build new device structures," said Ning in a release. The research was just published online in Nature Materials.

These dynamo dots could even be added to inks or paints. Consider the potential of brushing solar cells onto your roof: it could mean super-cheap and easy solar power for millions.

Once this technology becomes more widely understood and available, brace yourself for the onslaught of Kickstarter campaigns to paint solar power onto surfaces worldwide.

How about solar-collecting nanoparticles in sunscreen? Nothing better than catching some rays while powering up the camera that'll capture selfies of that new tan. Make it happen, my nerdy comrades. more

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