Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Nanowires have the power to revolutionize solar energy

Abstract:
Imagine a solar panel more efficient than today's best solar panels, but using 10 000 times less material. This is what EPFL researchers expect given recent findings on these tiny filaments called nanowires. Solar technology integrating nanowires could capture large quantities of light and produce energy with incredible efficiency at a much lower cost. This technology is possibly the future for powering microchips and the basis for a new generation of solar panels.



Capture up to 12 times more light to produce more energy? Nanowires do just that and surpass expectations on solar energy production.

Nanowires have the power to revolutionize solar energy

Lausanne, Switzerland | Posted on April 8th, 2013

Despite their size, nanowires have tremendous potential for energy production. "These nanowires capture much more light than expected," says Anna Fontcuberta i Morral about her research, published on 24 March 2013 in Nature Photonics.

Nanowires are extremely tiny filaments-in this case able to capture light-with a diameter that measures tens to hundreds of nanometers, where a nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter. These miniscule wires are up to 1000 times smaller than the diameter of human hair, or comparable in diameter to the size of viruses.

When equipped with the right electronic properties, the nanowire becomes a tiny solar cell, transforming sunlight into electric current. Anna Fontcuberta i Morral and her team built a nanowire solar cell out of gallium arsenide, a material which is better at converting light into power than silicon. They found that it actually collects more light than the usual flat solar cell-up to 12 times more-and more light means more energy.

The nanowire standing vertically essentially acts like a very efficient light funnel. Even though the nanowire is only a few hundred nanometers in diameter, it absorbs light as though it were 12 times bigger. In other words, it has a greater field of vision than expected.

Fontcuberta's prototype is already almost 10% more efficient at transforming light into power than allowed, in theory, for conventional single material solar panels. Furthermore, optimizing the dimensions of the nanowire, improving the quality of the gallium arsenide and using better electrical contacts to extract the current could increase the prototype's efficiency.

Arrays of nanowire solar cells offer new prospects for energy production. This study suggests that an array of nanowires may attain 33% efficiency, in practice, whereas commercial (flat) solar panels are now only up to 20% efficient. Also, arrays of nanowires would use at least 10 000 times less gallium arsenide, allowing for industrial use of this costly material. Translating this into dollars for gallium arsenide, the cost would only be $10 per square meter instead of $100 000.

Free to the engineer's imagination to mount these nanowires onto a variety of substrate panels, be it lightweight, flexible or designed to withstand the harshest of conditions. In a world where energy consumption is on the rise, these nanowires may one day power everything from your favorite gadget to space missions to Mars.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Hillary Sanctuary

41-797-034-809

Copyright © Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

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

News and information

Nanometrics to Announce Fourth Quarter and Full Year Financial Results on February 7, 2017 January 19th, 2017

'5-D protein fingerprinting' could give insights into Alzheimer's, Parkinson's January 19th, 2017

Strength of hair inspires new materials for body armor January 18th, 2017

Self-assembling particles brighten future of LED lighting January 18th, 2017

Videos/Movies

Manchester scientists tie the tightest knot ever achieved January 13th, 2017

Captured on video: DNA nanotubes build a bridge between 2 molecular posts: Research may lead to new lines of direct communication with cells January 9th, 2017

Researchers design one of the strongest, lightest materials known: Porous, 3-D forms of graphene developed at MIT can be 10 times as strong as steel but much lighter January 7th, 2017

The researchers created a tiny laser using nanoparticles January 5th, 2017

Chip Technology

Nanometrics to Announce Fourth Quarter and Full Year Financial Results on February 7, 2017 January 19th, 2017

Dressing a metal in various colors: DGIST research developed a technology to coat metal with several nanometers of semiconducting materials January 17th, 2017

Seeing the quantum future... literally: What if big data could help you see the future and prevent your mobile phone from breaking before it happened? January 16th, 2017

NUS researchers achieve major breakthrough in flexible electronics: New classes of printable electrically conducting polymer materials make better electrodes for plastic electronics and advanced semiconductor devices January 14th, 2017

Nanoelectronics

Nano-chimneys can cool circuits: Rice University scientists calculate tweaks to graphene would form phonon-friendly cones January 4th, 2017

Advance in intense pulsed light sintering opens door to improved electronics manufacturing December 23rd, 2016

Fast track control accelerates switching of quantum bits December 16th, 2016

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Demonstrates Industry-Leading 56Gbps Long-Reach SerDes on Advanced 14nm FinFET Process Technology: Proven ASIC IP solution will enable significant performance and power efficiency improvements for next-generation high-speed applications December 13th, 2016

Discoveries

'5-D protein fingerprinting' could give insights into Alzheimer's, Parkinson's January 19th, 2017

Strength of hair inspires new materials for body armor January 18th, 2017

Self-assembling particles brighten future of LED lighting January 18th, 2017

Dressing a metal in various colors: DGIST research developed a technology to coat metal with several nanometers of semiconducting materials January 17th, 2017

Announcements

Nanometrics to Announce Fourth Quarter and Full Year Financial Results on February 7, 2017 January 19th, 2017

'5-D protein fingerprinting' could give insights into Alzheimer's, Parkinson's January 19th, 2017

Strength of hair inspires new materials for body armor January 18th, 2017

Self-assembling particles brighten future of LED lighting January 18th, 2017

Energy

Dressing a metal in various colors: DGIST research developed a technology to coat metal with several nanometers of semiconducting materials January 17th, 2017

Stability challenge in perovskite solar cell technology: New research reveals intrinsic instability issues of iodine-containing perovskite solar cells December 26th, 2016

Nanoscale 'conversations' create complex, multi-layered structures: New technique leverages controlled interactions across surfaces to create self-assembled materials with unprecedented complexity December 22nd, 2016

Safe and inexpensive hydrogen production as a future energy source: Osaka University researchers develop efficient 'green' hydrogen production system that operates at room temperature in air December 21st, 2016

Aerospace/Space

Infrared instrumentation leader secures exclusive use of Vantablack coating December 5th, 2016

New records set up with 'Screws of Light' November 20th, 2016

Keep it Clean: Leti and French Partners to Test ‘Smart’ Antibacterial Surfaces in Space: Matiss Experiment Designed to Measure Most Effective Material for Cleaning International Space Station and Is Expected to Provide Earth-bound Applications November 15th, 2016

Nanocellulose in medicine and green manufacturing: American University professor develops method to improve performance of cellulose nanocrystals November 7th, 2016

Solar/Photovoltaic

Dressing a metal in various colors: DGIST research developed a technology to coat metal with several nanometers of semiconducting materials January 17th, 2017

Stability challenge in perovskite solar cell technology: New research reveals intrinsic instability issues of iodine-containing perovskite solar cells December 26th, 2016

Going green with nanotechnology December 21st, 2016

Research Study: MetaSOLTM Shatters Solar Panel Efficiency Forecasts with Innovative New Coating: Coating Provides 1.2 Percent Absolute Enhancement to Triple Junction Solar Cells December 2nd, 2016

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