Solar Science

June 25, 2012

Underwater Solar Power Possible?

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A team from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory has been studying the possibility of harvesting solar power underwater. It's true! Because now the only way to power up devices below the surface of water is with batteries, developing this science could benefit communication systems, environmental monitoring and other applications.

Currently this can only occur about 2 ½ feet down and they are working on changing this to a depth of 30 feet. Instead of silicon cells, the researchers are using gallium indium phosphide (GaInP) to maximize light absorption. Don't expect to see the results in the near future, just know that the military is continuing to use our tax dollars to create alternate power sources.

(Thanks, Courtney)

Via NRL

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May 7, 2012

Natcore Develops Black Solar Cells

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Natcore Technology has been working on ways to improve solar power to help make it more efficient and affordable. Their latest solution is a black surface for silicon that reflects a mere 0.3% light, giving 99.7% absorption. This new process also has the benefit of performing better during morning hours, evening hours and cloudy days.

The company has been working with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) since 2010 to get an average 4% reflection down to about 2% after being granted an exclusive license to develop and commercialize the black cells. Next up is working with equipment manufacturers that will create a tool that can make 2,000 wafers per hour. Natcore says it has already been in talks with Italy, China and India as potential customers.

Via Natcore

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January 24, 2011

Solar3D Develops More Efficient System

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Solar3D is simply what its title implies. Because up to 30% of incident sunlight can bounce off regular solar cells, this technology traps the sun in micro-photovoltaic structures that collect photons that are converted into electrons. The system uses light management techniques currently utilized in fiber optics. Not only can this be used in have many different applications, the company claims that it will make solar power more efficient and affordable.

(Thanks, Monica and Jennifer)

Via Solar3D

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January 10, 2011

Solar Window Technology More Affordable

New Energy Technologies has announced a new type of technology that could be more efficient and lower priced than most solar power tech used today. Solar Window is a liquid, see thru compound that can be applied without a high-vacuum. Developed by a USF physics team, the resulting coating is less than 1/10th thick and uses what they claim are the "world's smallest functional solar cells." Between the lower cost and easier application, we think that NET may soon help make solar energy fit into more energy budgets.

(Thanks, Jerry)

Via NET

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September 13, 2010

MIT Self-Repairing Photovoltaic Tech

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A team at MIT has created molecules that can be repeatedly broken down and reassembled, just as plants do in nature. The solar process is not like the static PV cells on a panel. Instead, the repair allows constant energy to occur without any damage. This takes place in synthetic chloroplasts, the parts in cells that consume carbon dioxide and utilize light to produce glucose. The project, headed by Michael Strano, may eventually be able to increase productivity up to 50%.

Via Eureka Alert

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September 6, 2010

NASA to Probe Sun

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When you think about the sun, what else comes to mind but humming "hot hot hot" in a Cure-ish kind of way? Well, if you happen to be NASA you think of it as a star that needs to be studied. To this end, they plan to launch a Solar Probe Plus (as shown in this artist's rendering) sometime before 2018, equipped with a solar wind particle detector, 3D cam and a device to measure its magnetic field.

Won't it burn up before it gets there, you ask? Of course, it will we answer, since the sun sends out temperatures exceeding 2,550º F. But, before its demise, the $180 million SPP will send back data that NASA scientist Lika Guhathakurta says, "for the very first time, we'll be able to touch, taste and smell our Sun."

Via NASA

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June 23, 2010

BC Develops Nanocoax Solar Film

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Researchers at Boston College have developed a thin film solar cell that is thick enough to capture light but thinner than most, enabling it to carry a more effective current. Patented last year, the nanocoax was based on a coaxial concept that was originally conceived in the 1800's. Because it is not created with crystalline materials, the cells will be less expensive to create.

Via Boston College

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March 22, 2010

UCLA Devises New Energy Policy

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J.R. DeShazo, the director of the Luskin Center for Innovation, in conjunction with other UCLA colleagues, has come up with a new energy policy for LA. Included is a "feed-in tariff," that encourages residents to install solar systems. Already in place in Germany, Europe, Vermont and Florida, the system allows those that do to sell excess energy back at above market level.

To accomplish this, rates would be 2.7 cents more/kwh with 0.7 cents going to a lockbox that funds energy efficiency and the solar power feed-in. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa claims that 8,000 new jobs would be generated over the next 10 years once the program is initiated.

Via UCLA

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March 15, 2010

UK Develops More Efficient Extraction By Solar Power

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Scientists in the UK have extracted hydrogen from water with an outstanding 60% efficiency by using solar energy. Nanoclusters of indium phosphide on a gold electrode allowed the absorption of light photons. Their next step is to find a less expensive material that will perform as well as gold.

Via Treehugger

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March 3, 2010

Radiometer Works With Sunshine

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Who didn't have a Radiometer as a kid? We did, but never really new how it worked. It seems the vanes inside transfer heat from the sun to each other. The lighter vanes reflect the rays and the darker ones absorb them. The more sun there is, the faster the vanes move.

Via Radiometer

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February 25, 2010

CIT Develops Nanorod Solar Cells

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The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena is using an existing technique that assembles nanowires on a surface to develop silicon nanorod solar cells that can be assembled in a "carpet" and embedded in a transparent polymer. The flexible cells use only about 1% of the material needed. Future applications would be inexpensive solar panels and clothing.

Via Nature

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February 18, 2010

U of M Builds Tiny Solar-Powered Sensor

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A team from the University of Michigan has developed a minute solar-powered sensor that provides almost continuous energy. Small as it is at 2.5 x 3.5 x 1mm, it has an ARM Cortex-M3 processor, solar cells and battery. With a low power microcontroller, it uses 2,000 times less energy in sleep mode than current ones. The sensor spends most of its time in that mode and wakes up long enough to take measurements. Planned for biomedical implants and monitoring buildings, its average power consumption claim is less than 1 nanowatt.

Via MSNBC

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February 1, 2010

Synthetic Solar Cells Grown on Tobacco

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You may be able to put this in your pipe but don't smoke it. A team at UC Berkeley have found a way to grow synthetic photovoltaic and photochemical cells on tobacco plants. They are then extracted, dissolved in a solution and sprayed onto a substrate with the result being solar cells. They may be not be as efficient as silicon but they are biodegradable.

Via Discovery

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January 28, 2010

UA to Construct Solar Tech Park

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The University of Arizona Tech Park is using solar power to make themselves and others aware of same. They will be building a 45 acre park covered with parabolic solar mirrors. When the $32 million project is completed next year, it will generate enough energy for over 1,500 homes and will reduce up to 1,600 tons of carbon emissions. In addition to producing electricity, it will also house a research and development facility.

Via UA News

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