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New Silicon Nanorod Solar Cells Use 99% Less Material

Posted By Ariel Schwartz On February 15, 2010 @ 1:40 pm In Renewable Energy,Solar Power | 2 Comments

The nanorods are assembled into a "carpet" and embedded into a transparent polymer to make flexible solar cells that use only one percent of the material needed to make conventional silicon cells assembled out of wafers. [1]

Instead of investing in solar cell [2] architectures that require entirely new manufacturing processes, wouldn’t it be easiest to build on what we have? That’s part of the thinking behind a new type of silicon nanorod solar cell developed by researchers at the California Institute of Technology [3] in Pasadena. The nanorods are assembled into a “carpet” and embedded into a transparent polymer to make flexible solar cells [4] that use only 1% of the material needed to make conventional silicon cells.

This isn’t the first time scientists have built solar cells [5]out of a nanowire array. Researchers in St. Petersburg, Russia, recently built a nanowire cell out of gallium arsenide, but the material is more expensive to produce than silicon. Another advantage to the CIT team’s research: their silicon design can be built using tools already used in solar cell production facilities.

The CIT researchers still need to build a solar cell device out of the nanowire array. But if all goes well, the flexible silicon cells could one day be used to make cheap solar panels and ultra-efficient solar-powered clothing [6]that we can only dream about today.

+ Nature News [7]

Via CNET [8]


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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/new-silicon-nanorod-solar-cells-use-99-less-material/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/02/15/new-silicon-nanorod-solar-cells-use-99-less-material/silicon-nanorods-3/

[2] solar cell: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/02/09/worlds-smallest-solar-powered-sensor-could-run-forever/

[3] California Institute of Technology: http://www.caltech.edu/

[4] flexible solar cells: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/06/15/researchers-unveil-flexible-solar-cell-roof-shingles/

[5] solar cells : http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/02/04/worlds-first-solar-powered-circuit-could-revolutionize-touchscreen-tech/

[6] solar-powered clothing : http://www.ecouterre.com/6627/solar-powered-hat-and-gloves-offer-promise-of-endless-warm/

[7] + Nature News: http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100214/full/news.2010.69.html

[8] CNET: http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10453303-54.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=GreenTech

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