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Home > News > Looking toward an exponentially brighter future

April 18th, 2008

Looking toward an exponentially brighter future

Abstract:
Take energy. Today, 70 percent of it comes from fossil fuels, a 19th-century technology. But if we could capture just 1/10,000th of the sunlight that falls on Earth, we could meet 100 percent of the world's energy needs using this renewable and environmentally friendly source. We can't do that now because solar panels rely on old technology, making them expensive, inefficient, heavy and hard to install. But a new generation of panels based on nanotechnology (which manipulates matter at the level of molecules) is starting to overcome these obstacles.

The tipping point at which energy from solar panels will actually be less expensive than fossil fuels is only a few years away. The power we are generating from solar is doubling every two years; at that rate, it will be able to meet all our energy needs within 20 years.

Nanotechnology itself is an information technology and therefore subject to what I call the "law of accelerating returns," a continual doubling of capability about every year. Venture capital groups and high-tech companies are investing billions of dollars in these new renewable-energy technologies. I'm confident the day is close at hand when we will be able to obtain energy from sunlight using nano-engineered solar panels and store it for use on cloudy days in nano-engineered fuel cells for less than it costs to use environmentally damaging fossil fuels.

Source:
twincities.com

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Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Spinning strands hint at folding dynamics: Rice University lab uses magnetic beads to model microscopic proteins, polymers October 17th, 2017

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