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Solar Technology

  1. Oct 14, 2005 #1
    I have recently heard that solar technology has become 5 times more efficient, and that we can no make solar receptors into clothing or spray on applicants. Something about using silicon crystals to increase the surface area or somehting. Anyone have a useful link to a site talking more about it? Or maybe you know more off hand? Thanks all!
     
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  3. Oct 14, 2005 #2

    Pengwuino

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    I never knew solar cells were 3% efficient at anytime recently...
     
  4. Oct 15, 2005 #3

    russ_watters

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    5x more efficient than what? There are many types of solar cells, with many different efficiencies. Commercially available cells range in efficiency from about 8-20%. Research cells top out at about 40%. There haven't been any major changes to that recently, that I know of.
     
  5. Oct 17, 2005 #4
    5 times more efficient then ever before. Such as; a solar cell produces X watts, but now produces 5(X) watts. Basically, the amount of power produced from a typical solar cell is now 5 times what it used to be, but the cell remains the same size.
     
  6. Oct 17, 2005 #5

    russ_watters

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    Yeah, that's not really possible, since 5x40=200% and you can't get more energy out of a solar cell than the sun puts into it.
     
  7. Oct 17, 2005 #6

    Pengwuino

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    What do you mean "what it used to be"? when? 5x of what???
     
  8. Oct 18, 2005 #7
  9. Oct 18, 2005 #8

    dduardo

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    "With further advances, the new plastic "could allow up to 30 percent of the sun's radiant energy to be harnessed, compared to 6 percent in today's best plastic solar cells," said Peter Peumans, a Stanford University electrical engineering professor, who studied the work."

    So they actually haven't improved the efficiency, but they are working on it.
     
  10. Oct 18, 2005 #9
    Yes, they are working on it. Hence the reason I originally asked if anyone knew about it.
     
  11. Oct 18, 2005 #10

    russ_watters

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    That little hiccup in grammar changes the meaning of the whole question Tkolb325. Sorry, but we simply didn't know what you were talking about.

    Also, the article says further down that that's 5x what current plastic cells are capable of, or 6x5=30%. That's not all that impressive of an efficiency number, but what could be big about this research is that the cost of these cells is relatively low. Very, very early in the game to know the real significance of this, though.
     
  12. Oct 18, 2005 #11
    Yes these solar cells you are inquiring about are a part of the new field in organic electronics. Organic electronics are inferior to silicon electronics in absolute terms, and I would actually be very skeptical of this 30% number people are quoting. However, these conductive organic polymers can be produced from common materials for cheap, and can be made to cover wide areas. There are many cases where organic electronics may be superior in cost when actually deployed, and other cases where they are superior to begin with - for instance, try making a tent out of silicon solar panels.

    The area of organic electronics is relatively new. Alan Heeger won the nobel prize in 2000 for his (joint) discovery of conductive polymers in the late 70's, and big advances in the area were really not made until the mid-80's and early 90's. This is one reason you don't see much publicity about the field; it is only fifteen or twenty years old, and its commercial applications (besides simple conductive plastics) have really only been seriously explored for less than a decade.

    However, due to the ease in which solar cells, LED's, transistors and other electronics can be made out of these polymers, you can expect them to begin working their way into our lives over the next twenty years, and probably greatly affect the way we live.

    Here are a couple of companies that may interest you. I can supply a number of journal articles if you are interested and have access to Elsivier materials.

    http://www.konarka.com/

    http://www.nanosysinc.com/
     
  13. Oct 18, 2005 #12

    russ_watters

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    Ease of manufacture, transport, and deployment would be another big plus - imagine manufacturing it by the roll, then unrolling it wherever you need it.
     
  14. Oct 18, 2005 #13

    Pengwuino

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    God itd be like laying sheets of grass in a desert!

    Wonder if you could paint it green :tongue2:
     
  15. Oct 19, 2005 #14
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