Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Breakthrough will help spur viability of alternative energy

Abstract:
Organic solar cells being developed are made of plastic that is relatively inexpensive, flexible, can be wrapped around structures or even applied like paint

NMSU/Wake Forest solar breakthrough will help spur viability of alternative energy

October 07, 2005

Imagine being able to “paint” your roof with enough alternative energy to heat and cool your home. What if soldiers in the field could carry an energy source in a roll of plastic wrap in their backpacks?

Those ideas sound like science fiction, particularly in the wake of the rising costs of fossil fuel.

But both are on the way to becoming reality because of a breakthrough in solar research by a team of scientists from New Mexico State University and Wake Forest University.

While traditional solar panels are made of silicon, which is expensive, brittle and shatters like glass, organic solar cells being developed by this team are made of plastic that is relatively inexpensive, flexible, can be wrapped around structures or even applied like paint, said physicist Seamus Curran, head of the nanotechnology laboratory at NMSU. Nanotechnology, or molecular manufacturing, refers to the ability to build things one atom at a time.

The relatively low energy efficiency levels produced by organic solar cells have been a drawback. To be effective producers of energy, they must be able to convert 10 percent of the energy in sunlight to electricity. Typical silicon panels are about 12 percent energy conversion efficient.

That level of energy conversion has been a difficult reach for researchers on organic solar technology, with many of them hitting about 3 to 4 percent. But the NMSU/Wake Forest team has achieved a solar energy efficiency level of 5.2 percent. The announcement was made at the Santa Fe Workshop on Nanoengineered Materials and Macro-Molecular Technologies, which opened Sunday and continues through Friday.

“This means we are closer to making organic solar cells that are available on the market,” Curran said.

Conventional thinking has been that that landmark was at least a decade away. With this group’s research, it may be only four or five years before plastic solar cells are a reality for consumers, Curran added.

The importance of the breakthrough cannot be underestimated, Curran said.

“We need to look into alternative energy sources if the United States is to reduce its dependence on foreign sources,” the NMSU physics professor said.

New Mexico Economic Development Department Secretary Rick Homans added, “This breakthrough pushes the state of New Mexico further ahead in the development of usable solar energy, a vital national resource. It combines two of the important clusters on which the state is focused: renewable energy and micro nano systems, and underlines the strong research base of our state universities.”

A cheap, flexible plastic made of a polymer blend would revolutionize the solar market, Curran said.

“Our expectation is to get beyond 10 percent in the next five years,” Curran said. “Our current mix is using polymer and carbon buckyballs (fullerenes) and good engineering from Wake Forest and unique NSOM imaging from NMSU to get to that point.”

NSOM or near-field scanning optical microscopy allows them to scan objects too small for regular microscopes.

The development is an outgrowth of the collaborative’s work developing high-tech coatings for military aircraft, a program supported by Sens. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Curran said.

The nanotechnologies workshop, being held at the Loretto Inn and Spa in Santa Fe, is co-sponsored by the Economic Development Department. Researchers from around the world are attending sessions that will examine novel and exotic approaches to nano-scale technologies.

The purpose of the gathering is to identify emerging nanotechnologies and opportunities. For more information on the conference, go to nanophysics.nmsu.edu/ and click on conference.

####


Copyright © New Mexico State University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Possible Futures

Imaging electric charge propagating along microbial nanowires October 20th, 2014

Superconducting circuits, simplified: New circuit design could unlock the power of experimental superconducting computer chips October 18th, 2014

Nanocoatings Market By Product Is Expected To Reach USD 8.17 Billion By 2020: Grand View Research, Inc. October 15th, 2014

Perpetuus Carbon Group Receives Independent Verification of its Production Capacity for Graphenes at 140 Tonnes per Annum: Perpetuus Becomes the First Manufacturer in the Sector to Allow Third Party Audit October 7th, 2014

Materials/Metamaterials

Production of Biocompatible Polymers in Iran October 30th, 2014

New solar power material converts 90 percent of captured light into heat: SunShot Project aims to make solar cost competitive October 29th, 2014

Watching the hidden life of materials: Ultrafast electron diffraction experiments open a new window on the microscopic world October 27th, 2014

Polymeric Scaffold Recreates Bladder Tissue October 27th, 2014

Announcements

Nano Ruffles in Brain Matter: Freiburg researchers decipher the role of nanostructures around brain cells in central nervous system function October 31st, 2014

Gold nanoparticle chains confine light to the nanoscale October 31st, 2014

'Nanomotor lithography' answers call for affordable, simpler device manufacturing October 31st, 2014

Device invented at Johns Hopkins provides up-close look at cancer on the move: Microscopic view of metastasis could give insight about how to keep cancer in check October 31st, 2014

Military

'Nanomotor lithography' answers call for affordable, simpler device manufacturing October 31st, 2014

Microrockets fueled by water neutralize chemical and biological warfare agents October 29th, 2014

Breakthrough in molecular electronics paves the way for DNA-based computer circuits in the future: DNA-based programmable circuits could be more sophisticated, cheaper and simpler to make October 27th, 2014

NanoTechnology for Defense (NT4D) October 22nd, 2014

Energy

Gold nanoparticle chains confine light to the nanoscale October 31st, 2014

Iranians Present Model to Predict Photocatalytic Process in Removal of Pollutants October 30th, 2014

New solar power material converts 90 percent of captured light into heat: SunShot Project aims to make solar cost competitive October 29th, 2014

New Compact SIMS at 61st AVS | Visit us on Booth 311 October 28th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE





  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE