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Archive for the ‘solar power’ category

Oct 13, 2020

Study uncovers the role of exciton lifetimes in enabling highly efficient organic solar cells

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

Organic photovoltaics are a third-generation solar cell technology made of electron donor and electron acceptor materials instead of conventional semiconductor p-n junctions. The performance of this alternative solar cell technology has improved significantly over the past few years and it is now comparable to that of classical inorganic solar cells, both in terms of charge carrier yields (i.e., electrical current generation) and solar spectrum matching.

The only feature of organic photovoltaics that still lags behind traditional solar cells is its achievable voltage (VOC, which stands for open circuit voltage). As electrical power is the product of voltage and current, however, the poor VOC of organic solar cells currently prevents their successful commercialization.

Researchers at the Institute of Materials for Electronics and Energy Technology (i-MEET) in Germany and the National Hellenic Research Foundation (NHRF) in Greece have been investigating specific features of materials used to build organic photovoltaics that could enable greater efficiencies and achievable voltages. Their paper, published in Nature Energy, shows that materials with long exciton lifetimes could be particularly promising for the creation of efficient organic solar cells.

Oct 9, 2020

Japan’s Cute Army

Posted by in categories: military, solar power, sustainability

The unlikely association of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces with adorable anime characters could reflect a deep-seated discomfort with the nation’s military history.

Oct 4, 2020

New Eco-Friendly Color Thin-Film Solar Cells

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

Research on solar cells to secure renewable energy sources are ongoing around the world. The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) in South Korea succeeded in developing eco-friendly color Cu(In, Ga)Se2 (CIGS) thin-film solar cells.

CIGS thin-film solar cells are used to convert sunlight into electrical energy and are made by coating multiple thin films on a glass substrate. They have a relatively higher absorption coefficient among non-silicon based cells, resulting in high conversion efficiency and long stability. Also, they require less raw materials compared to silicon-based cells; hence less process and material costs.

One downside has been the difficulty in commercialization as they use the buffer layer which contains toxic heavy metal, cadmium. Thus, the ETRI team replaced the cadmium sulfide (CdS) buffer layer with zinc (Zn) based materials — which is not harmful — and managed to achieve approximately 18% conversion efficiency; thus eliminating the obstacle to commercialization.

Sep 16, 2020

The Holy Grail of Endless Energy: Harvesting Blackholes

Posted by in categories: climatology, cosmology, mathematics, solar power, sustainability

While the future of the clean energy proposal remains uncertain, the majority of Americans have been reading from the same page regarding what needs to be done: Dramatically cutting down the country’s reliance on fossil fuels over the next two decades is critical to lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and address climate change, with six in 10 U.S. adults saying they would favor policies with this energy goal. Thankfully, scientists have been researching alternative energy solutions like wind and solar power for decades, including lesser-known sources that may seem a little unusual or even downright ridiculous and unrealistic.

You can chalk up harvesting energy from blackholes to the latter category.

Fifty years ago, British mathematical physicist, Roger Penrose, proposed a seemingly absurd idea how an alien society (or future humans) could harvest energy from a rotating black hole by dropping an object just outside its sphere of influence also known as the ergosphere where it could gain negative energy. Since then, nobody has been able to verify the viability of this seemingly bizarre idea— that is until now.

Continue reading “The Holy Grail of Endless Energy: Harvesting Blackholes” »

Sep 15, 2020

‘Artificial leaf’ makes fuel from sunlight

Posted by in categories: solar power, space travel, sustainability

Circa 2011 could be used for spaceships and rebreather spacesuits.


Solar cell bonded to recently developed catalyst can harness the sun, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.

David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

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Sep 11, 2020

First skydive from a solar electric plane accomplished in Switzerland

Posted by in categories: alien life, solar power, sustainability, transportation

Scientists claim to have found the first known extraterrestrial protein in a meteorite.


Team’s goal is to take the aircraft up into the icy stratosphere to 25km above the Earth.

Continue reading “First skydive from a solar electric plane accomplished in Switzerland” »

Sep 9, 2020

Development of photovoltaics that can be applied like paint for real-life application

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability, transportation

Researchers in Korea have successfully developed a large-area, organic-solution-processable solar cell with high efficiency. They achieved their breakthrough by controlling the speed at which the solution of raw materials for solar cells became solidified after being coated. The team, led by Dr. Hae Jung Son from the Photo-electronic Hybrids Research Center of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), have identified the difference in the mechanism of film formation between a small area and a large area of organic solar cells in a solution process, thereby making possible the development of high-efficiency, large-area organic photovoltaics.

If a material is made in the form of paint that can be applied to any surface, such as the exterior of a building or a car, it will be possible to achieve energy self-sufficiency and provide low-cost, eco-friendly energy to regions suffering from energy poverty. Such technology would provide easy installation of photovoltaics, even on urban buildings, and the photovoltaic panels could be maintained by re-applying the “paint.”

Solution-processable , which work by coating the surface with the solar cell , are not yet feasible for industry. Currently, such large-area photovoltaics present reduced performance and production difficulties due to material- and process-related limitations, and this has been an obstacle to commercialization.

Sep 8, 2020

An Army of Microscopic Robots Is Ready to Patrol Your Body

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, solar power, sustainability

I was so wrong.

Last week, Drs. Marc Miskin*, Itai Cohen, and Paul McEuen at Cornell University spearheaded a collaboration that tackled one of the most pressing problems in microrobotics—getting those robots to move in a controllable manner. They graced us with an army of Pop-Tart-shaped microbots with seriously tricked-out actuators, or motors that allow a robot to move. In this case, the actuators make up the robot’s legs.

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Sep 8, 2020

Physicists nudge atoms within less than a trillionth of a second

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, particle physics, quantum physics, solar power, sustainability

Scientists from Regensburg and Zurich have found a fascinating way to push an atom with controlled forces so quickly that they can choreograph the motion of a single molecule within less than a trillionth of a second. The extremely sharp needle of their unique ultrafast microscope serves as the technical basis: It carefully scans molecules, similar to a record player. Physicists at the University of Regensburg now showed that shining light pulses onto this needle can transform it into an ultrafast “atomic hand.” This allows molecules to be steered—and new technologies can be inspired.

Atoms and are the constituents of virtually all matter that surrounds us. Interacting with each other according to the rules of quantum mechanics, they form complex systems with an infinite variety of functions. To examine , in a cell, or new ways of solar energy harvesting, scientists would love to not only observe individual molecules, but even control them.

Most intuitively, people learn by haptic exploration, such as pushing, pulling, or tapping. Naturally, we are used to macroscopic objects that we can directly touch, squeeze or nudge by exerting forces. Similarly, atoms and molecules interact via forces, but these forces are extreme in multiple respects. First, the forces acting between atoms and molecules occur at extremely small lengths. In fact, these objects are so small that a special length scale has been introduced to measure them: 1 Ångström (1Å = 0.000,000,000,1 m). Second, at the same time, atoms and molecules move and wiggle around extremely fast. In fact, their motion takes place faster than picoseconds (1 ps = 0.000,000,000,001 s). Hence, to directly steer a molecule during its motion, a tool is required to generate ultrafast forces at the atomic scale.

Sep 6, 2020

Lighting the way for new solar fuels science

Posted by in categories: science, solar power, sustainability

Yale chemists are pushing forward with innovative work to develop tomorrow’s liquid fuels from sunlight.

A quintet of Yale researchers — Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, Nilay Hazari, Patrick Holland, James Mayer, and Hailiang Wang — are among the principal investigators (PI) for the U.S. Department of Energy’s $40 million Center for Hybrid Approaches in Solar Energy to Liquid Fuels (CHASE).

CHASE, which involves six scientific institutions, will be based at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Yale’s portion of the funding is $6.27 million over five years, and will support dozens of graduate student and postdoctoral co-workers on Science Hill and in the Energy Sciences Institute at West Campus.

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