posted on Feb, 10 2008 @ 03:53 PM
I have a few new items to update this thread with. It may take a little longer to finish the more relevant material. But, in the meantime, i thought
it would be interesting to discuss prior research by the lead scientist (and likely most well known) in the group mentioned in the OP article:
Next Step: Although the cells' electron transport was better, their overall light conversion efficiency was low compared to that of some
nanoparticle-based solar cells (which have achieved efficiencies of up to 10 percent). Zinc oxide harvests electrons from the dye less efficiently
than does titanium dioxide -- a material more commonly used in nano solar cells. The researchers are now making their nanowires out of titanium
dioxide, a more challenging manufacturing process. The nanowires also have a smaller surface area than a network of nanoparticles, so they carry less
light-absorbing dye. The researchers are consequently shrinking their nanowires to 10 nanometers in diameter so that they can fit more nanowires onto
their arrays and increase the total surface area. Yang predicts that with thinner and more numerous titanium wires, his team will be able to achieve a
conversion efficiency of 10 percent or more, which could make these nano solar cells a viable source of energy.
Photovoltaics are quite different from thermoelectric. However, given the recent finds from the cloaking piece, the field of photovoltaics is poised
to really take off.
The key here is that we are finding new uses for old materials. We have discovered that there are REAL reasons behind the properties of materials.
For example, why gold looks the way it does. Why it is the color it is, how brilliant it is. There is something to say about how it is polished, how
it is formed. This is all done on a macro scale. Perhaps, with polishing, you can change it on a microscale. however, take it down another step or
two, get down to the nanoscale, and if you can make changes to the material you can further change other properties it exhibits.
In the same way a large lump of gold has the property that it exerts greater force (due to the force=mass*acceleration concept) when dropped on your
foot. On the nanoscale such changes in size, shape, contour...they all have further affects on the overall material. This is how you turn paper into
a superconductor. Or how you make silicone have thermoelectric properties.
I am willing to bet that if we controlled design on even smaller scales, we could further create unkown, fantastic properties within the same old
materials that litter the universe.