Greg Nielson pushes a small jar full of rubbing alcohol across his desk at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. In the jar float shiny solar cells the size of glitter. "If you have panels of these on top of Walmart, you get twice as much power [as conventional photovoltaics] and your costs go down by half," he says. For the past six years, Nielson has worked to dramatically reduce the size of solar cells in order to make them more durable, efficient, and cost-effective.
When the Utah native arrived at Sandia in 2004, Nielson was one of the world's leadingresearchers of optical microelectro-mechanical systems—technology that uses light to drive tiny machines. It was a wrong number in 2005 that led him into solar power. One of Sandia's leading solar researchers, Vipin Gupta, accidentally called Nielson's office. Soon, the two scientists started chatting. "I found out that silicon materials account for something like 40 to 50 percent of the total costs of most solar panels," Nielson says. By using microfabrication techniques borrowed from the electronics industry, he discovered that he could make solar cells that use 100 times less silicon to produce the same amount of electricity.
These days, Nielson leads a team of 30 researchers working on solar glitter, which could significantly improve the efficiency of flexible photovoltaics. Nielson is also trying to incorporate the glitter into consumer electronics. "[It] could provide power wherever you need it," he says, "as long as you don't live in a cave without lights."
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This has so many great implications. The world is full of intellectuals. Some are just caught on the wrong track or are in another field of study, one phone call might be able to create the next energy revolution. One of the hindering aspects of research is that there are many great minds working on diverse issues and they are unable to participate in a greater advancement and understanding of science and technology.
“When Ignorance lurks, so too do the frontiers of discovery and imagination”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson
“like 40 to 50 percent of the total costs of most solar panels,”
This is only part of the story. The main issue is that silicon manufacturing uses 90% of the energy needed to create a pv. That energy is still more than one can ever expect to recover with the product.
The article doesn't address that but if a PV silicon footprint could be reduced by 100 times then you might finally make a PV panel that actually uses less energy to create.
please post a link to back up what you are claiming jefro. I know that I have already posting one, in reply to a similar statement you made which proved you very very wrong.
Now all they need to do is start laying out their PV glitter on grids like the pixels in an LCD screen and set them up to show the location of faulty cells so the owner can easily replace some cells when they become less than desirably efficient rather than replacing the entire panel. Wink wink nudge nudge!
Theorectically, if you could use some kind of EM energy transfer, you could turn an entire area into a pv panel. If failing electromagnetism, one could create large "nets" of these panels, all interconnected with durable wires and capable of hanging like a trapeeze net.
Imagine New York with panels like that, it'd be like a canopy to the urban jungle.
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
The downside is that electronics and clothing of the future might all be covered in glitter! Just like pop culture always likes to portray it.
We just had to give them an excuse didn't we?!
And shouldn't the ideal solar cell be black (no light reflected)?
I always read about these breakthroughs in photovoltaics, but I have never seen a cheap solar panel. All you see are these panels with miniscule output and a ridiculous price. It seems to be the industry of unfulfilled promises. Sure if one lived on a remote farm or a desert island. That would be the price to pay. But otherwise I have never seen anything that is even remotely economical.
Yea, I agree with you. When the idea truly is great, cheap and efficient, it will be as plentiful as TVs in the home, milk in the refrigerator; here is hoping!
So use higher density of glitter, with nanobots that run on photons attached to the glitter, channeling excess photons to a collector via reflection. Albedo material? Capable of channeling and throwing back a laser if you carry an emitter? Seems to me that a beam could be handled if it's stream is broken down enough on a continual and increasing level over the time of the pulse.
John N. I have been having the same experience. Nano tubes will improve solar efficiency by many factors, smaller,lighter,faster charging batteries. Will we destroy everything before we finally build the things that would have saved us?