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Nanotech breakthroughs in solar energy

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posted on Jun, 19 2008 @ 07:21 PM
I have a thread on thermoelectrics, but it seems all ihave put in there lately is solar stuff. so i will instead put that stuff in here, going forward.

There is a ton more stuff located in my "other" thread here:

I found this article today to be very interesting:

Getting Wrapped Up In Solar Textiles

These new materials, known as solar textiles, work like the now-familiar photovoltaic cells in solar panels. Made of semiconductor materials, they absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity.

Kennedy uses 3-D modeling software to design with solar textiles, generating membrane-like surfaces that can become energy-efficient cladding for roofs or walls. Solar textiles may also be draped like curtains.

"Surfaces that define space can also be producers of energy," says Kennedy, a visiting lecturer in architecture. "The boundaries between traditional walls and utilities

This is the mindset i have been looking for, and the approach that i have been thinking. Now, if they will include thermoelectrics, piezoelectrics and superconducting wires, we are talking about a real combo that could yield results.

posted on Jun, 19 2008 @ 08:15 PM
reply to post by bigfatfurrytexan
We must stand up as citizens and demand that our congressmen and senators get behind this technology. All it takes is an email. Individuals can make a difference. It is not too late. Get involved.

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 10:37 PM
So much new technology to be excited for!

I have just noticed all your interesting threads, will check them out soon!

posted on Jul, 11 2008 @ 11:11 PM
Organic dye lets window panes harvest the Sun

Harvesting sunlight before turning it into electricity could become easier thanks to an exotic organic dye developed in the US.

Coated onto an ordinary sheet of glass, the dye traps light inside the glass allowing it to be channelled to photovoltaic cells placed along the edges of the sheet.

The technique, say its inventors, could turn up to 20% of incident light into electricity at a fraction of the cost of conventional photovoltaic cells.

One way to reduce the cost of photovoltaic power is to focus light from a large area onto a small cell. In that way, a small cell can harvest light from a larger area. But the collecting optics must track the Sun's path across the sky, requiring expensive machinery and control systems.

The dye-covered glass works differently. The dye molecules absorb sunlight over a wide range of visible wavelengths and then emit light at a longer wavelength.

20% isn't too bad for a system that is meant to subsidize a more primary system.

Or if you are looking for another tool in the search for energy independance.

Piezoelectrics, solar, and thermoelectric....there ARE solutions.

posted on Jul, 11 2008 @ 11:14 PM
Toyota Prius may get 'symbolic' solar panels

Toyota's next generation of Prius hybrid cars will be fitted with solar panels to power on-board electrical items such as the air-conditioning system, it is reported.

The third generation model of the car, which can be driven by its petrol engine or its electric motor, or both, will be launched next year.

It is not yet known how much the solar panels on the new Prius cars would cost, or how many solar-mounted versions Toyota would build.

posted on Jul, 11 2008 @ 11:16 PM
Wind power sails ahead in UK as US solar plans freeze

UK prime minister Gordon Brown wants to build 3000 turbines around the UK's coast, part of a plan that will see renewable energy provide 30 per cent of the nation's electricity by 2020. The US Bureau of Land Management is less bullish. It plans to defer any further applications for solar power projects while it conducts an environmental review, with the fate of the desert tortoise one cause for concern. The review is expected to take about two years.

posted on Jul, 11 2008 @ 11:21 PM
Wow thank you for this thread. I am a huge fan of nanotechnology, I believe it to be a fascinating science! And what a great breakthrough using nanotechnology to harvest our solar power. Bye Bye Big Oil!

posted on Jul, 14 2008 @ 09:39 PM
Better Technology For Developing Plastic Solar Cells And Plastic Electronic Devices Created

The CNR Bologna team has also applied the technique to studies of organic photovoltaic materials, plastic solar cells in other words, which could significantly cut the costs of renewable solar energy and make it commercially viable. They are testing structurally well-defined plastics known as polyisocyanopeptide polymers as scaffolds on which they can arrange thousands of electron-accepting molecules, among them a group of organic molecules known as the perylene-bis(dicarboximides).

The result is that they can produce hundreds of nanometre-long light-absorbing wires

posted on Jul, 14 2008 @ 09:49 PM
New 'Window' Opens On Solar Energy: Cost Effective Devices Available Soon

Imagine windows that not only provide a clear view and illuminate rooms, but also use sunlight to efficiently help power the building they are part of. MIT engineers report a new approach to harnessing the sun's energy that could allow just that.

The work, reported in the July 11 issue of Science, involves the creation of a novel "solar concentrator." "Light is collected over a large area [like a window] and gathered, or concentrated, at the edges," explains Marc A. Baldo, leader of the work and the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering.

As a result, rather than covering a roof with expensive solar cells (the semiconductor devices that transform sunlight into electricity), the cells only need to be around the edges of a flat glass panel. In addition, the focused light increases the electrical power obtained from each solar cell "by a factor of over 40," Baldo says

this is fascinating. if you read through my thread here it is discussed how to use "crafy" material design to create a surface that "channels" photons. they are using it as a cloaking mechanism in theory, currently, and it takes advantage of some nifty properties of gold and silver in a field called "Photonics" and its cousing, "Plasmonics".

Now, this is interesting when you consider it in the terms of photovoltaics, and the above mentioned process. they are "channeling" light into smaller photovoltaic receptors to improve efficiency. this is achieved through a different type of photonic principle.

Imagine if they could create windows that had this same property as the cloaking material. You could channel MUCH more light into the photovoltaic while still allowing light from the other side of the window to be seen, making it a true window that is only one way... a privacy window, if you will.

posted on Jul, 14 2008 @ 09:56 PM
Great thread!

Here's something different - photovoltaic paint.

Sometime within the next decade your electric company might very well be a thing of the past.

Imagine being completely off of the grid, no need for ugly power lines, power outages during a storm, or an ever rising electric bill. Instead you simply paint your house with a photovoltaic paint!

Scientists are currently developing just such a thing. Using a combination of a plastic composite and nano-carbon tubes this photovoltaic paint converts the suns energy into electricity. In fact these nano-solar cells can actually harness the suns infra-red rays and could one day be up to 5 times more efficient than current solar cells.

This is not a pipe dream, nor is it a technology so far away that we’ll never see it. This is a current reality that will most likely be available to the public within the next decade. In fact the only thing left with this technology to perfect is the ability to get the nano-cells to correctly align themselves to allow an efficient flow between cells. And this is perfectly workable problem.

5 years from now you may very well take a trip down to the hardware store and buy some of this photovoltaic paint, spray your home with it, and never pay an electric bill again!

posted on Jul, 14 2008 @ 11:29 PM
reply to post by Ceara

that is good stuff. i have heard that they will be able to print solar material (as well as LCD material) in a prociess similar to a color printer does (to oversimplify it).

The pieces that people are holding their breath for are price and efficiency.

Here is another possible aid in the search for greater efficiency. I have posted this in another thread i have, and ran across it again a few moments ago. Very relevant when applied in context to my previous post:

'Avalanche Effect' In Solar Cells Demonstrated

Researchers at TU Delft and the FOM Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter have found irrefutable proof that the so-called avalanche effect by electrons occurs in specific, very small semiconducting crystals. This physical effect could pave the way for cheap, high-output solar cells. The findings are to be published in scientific journal Nano Letters.


In some semiconducting nanocrystals, however, one photon can release two or three electrons, hence the term avalanche effect. This could theoretically lead to a maximum output of 44 percent in a solar cell comprising the correct semiconducting nanocrystals. Moreover, these solar cells can be manufactured relatively cheaply

I have to wonder what the size of the nanocrystals would be. If they are small enough, applications could be very wide reaching.

posted on Aug, 16 2008 @ 08:20 PM
Flexible Nanoantenna Arrays Capture Abundant Solar Energy

Researchers have devised an inexpensive way to produce plastic sheets containing billions of nanoantennas that collect heat energy generated by the sun and other sources. The technology, developed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory, is the first step toward a solar energy collector that could be mass-produced on flexible materials.

This is very interesting. I wonder why they don't use a similiar approach with piezoelectrics?

[edit on 16-8-2008 by bigfatfurrytexan]

posted on Aug, 16 2008 @ 08:24 PM
Solar Collector Could Change Asphalt Roads Into Renewable Energy Source

Anyone who has walked barefoot across a parking lot on a hot summer day knows that blacktop is exceptionally good at soaking up the sun’s warmth. Now, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has found a way to use that heat-soaking property for an alternative energy source.

Through asphalt, the researchers are developing a solar collector that could turn roads and parking lots into ubiquitous—and inexpensive–sources of electricity and hot water

In Denver the urban sprawl is being blamed for increasing summer high's. I lived in Laramie, WY for a year, and i can say that Denver is a LOT warmer than any of the surrounding area. Especially in the summer.

posted on Aug, 16 2008 @ 08:45 PM
There have been so many technological breakthroughs in Solar technology lately, I am actually sort of anxious for them to come to the market. I plan to own a house within the next few years, and I hope to have it mostly, if not completely off the grid using mainly solar and geothermal energy.

Nanotechnology and breakthroughs in solar panels are making them a more viable technology for our energy needs pretty rapidly. It's probably the "realistic" technology I am most excited about right now.

Edit: Forgive me if you have already linked this article (I don't think you have), but here is another breakthrough by MIT (I noticed you had one by MIT already, this is different I believe)


Requiring nothing but abundant, non-toxic natural materials, this discovery could unlock the most potent, carbon-free energy source of all: the sun. "This is the nirvana of what we've been talking about for years," said MIT's Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the work in the July 31 issue of Science. "Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon."

Inspired by the photosynthesis performed by plants, Nocera and Matthew Kanan, a postdoctoral fellow in Nocera's lab, have developed an unprecedented process that will allow the sun's energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Later, the oxygen and hydrogen may be recombined inside a fuel cell, creating carbon-free electricity to power your house or your electric car, day or night.

The key component in Nocera and Kanan's new process is a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water; another catalyst produces valuable hydrogen gas. The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity — whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source — runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.

Combined with another catalyst, such as platinum, that can produce hydrogen gas from water, the system can duplicate the water splitting reaction that occurs during photosynthesis.

The new catalyst works at room temperature, in neutral pH water, and it's easy to set up, Nocera said. "That's why I know this is going to work. It's so easy to implement," he said.

I remembered it from listening to a podcast the other week by The Skeptics Guide to the Universe

[edit on 16-8-2008 by OnionCloud]

posted on Aug, 16 2008 @ 08:51 PM
well, and it seems that marketable solutions are there to be had for sure.

The solar cells that mimic plants, the plastics that allow flexibility. It seems that the technology is finally going to begin to allow for the solar cells to be used in a way that doesn't require large volumes of flat area, such as rooftop solar cells.

The interesting thing will be how to supplement this. Using solar will likely not get you off the grid entirely. At least not soon. Storage is another issue that is certainly problematic. How do you ensure adequate storage for that week of rainy weather? What about Seattle? I thnk we will need to see additional solutions that will help the commercial delivery of electricity to do it cheaper. This will help provide cost effective "back up" solutions.

I am still saying that if you want to put money on something, put it on piezoelectrics. Once we get that figured out, true free energy will be available, rain or shine.

posted on Aug, 16 2008 @ 08:53 PM
reply to post by OnionCloud

Didn't see the edit before my last post.

No, that wasn't linked here.
There is a thread somewhere on ATS about it. that is some OUTSTANDING news. I am very hopeful.


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