Thursday, August 16, 2012

Discovery opens door to cheaper solar panels | Ars Technica

So the first Auckland nerdnite went smoothly. Had about twice as many people turn up as I expected, which was nice, questions galore for all 3 speakers and interesting talks. All in all a success. It has meant that I've been rather busy though and what time I've had spare I've had to spend in the lab. It's 12:45 am now and I've caught up with maybe 80% of my email. Time for a break.

This has been in my sights for a few days now. Especially since one of the talks at nerdnite was about solar energy in New Zealand and it's associated costs. Basically, a team at Berkley have figured out a way to make significantly cheaper solar panels using a bunch of metal oxides, sulfides and phosphides as the semi-conductors in photo-voltaic cells. Metal oxides haven't been able to be used as semiconductors in solar panels up to now because the semiconductors need to stay in a very specific configuration to be able to allow electric current to flow. The trick, apparently is to have a constant low level electric current running continuously through the cells which keeps the atoms all lined up correctly and allows the current to flow.

Ingenuous.Very cool. And another step along the way to an affordable distributed energy grid.

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