High school: General Douglas MacArthur High School, Levittown, N.Y.
Invention: Solar panels supercharged with quantum dots
In high school, Chaimaa Makoudi was elected president of the environmental club and helped start the school's first recycling program. But she didn't really consider inventing anything until she learned that installing solar panels on her family's four-bedroom house wouldn't shave very much money off the electric bill. In researching why, she discovered quantum dots, tiny semiconducting crystals, and wondered if they could harness solar power.
A few months later, Makoudi had a prototype that generated 5 percent more electricity than a conventional solar panel, thanks to the quantum dots she embedded inside. She also found intriguing evidence for an unproven theory that smaller quantum dots are more efficient than bigger ones. The budding inventor plans to publish her findings later this year.
Makoudi, whose family moved to the U.S. from Morocco in 2004, will be the first in her family to attend college when she enrolls this fall. Her major? Engineering.
College: Cooper Union