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Pictured is an ingot of indium. Indium is currently essential to the LCD and solar cell industries. However, there is estimated to only be a 10 year supply of indium left on Earth.  (Source:
German researchers claim breakthrough that may salvage the solar industry from the brink of disaster

It sounds like the death knell of the solar power industry -- shrinking Earth supplies of indium, which experts estimate will only last for another decade.  Facing its darkest hour, a new breakthrough by researchers at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research holds the promise of saving the solar industry from an untimely demise.

Solar cells have always relied on the metal indium, due to its transparency, which is essential to light emission or absorption in electronics.  Engineers also regard indium valuable in LCDs and other transparent electrical devices.  However, indium is a relatively rare metal on Earth and existing supplies are rapidly dwindling.  Researchers have frantically searched for transparent conducting materials to little avail.

A new team claims it may have found the solution in one of the Earth's most abundant elements.  Researchers at the Planck Institute have devised a new approach, utilizing graphene -- single 2D layers of carbon atoms, extracted from graphite -- 10 layers of which are applied to form an electrode.  Each layer that comprises the electrode is a mere 5 nm thick. 

The material has conductivity comparable or superior to indium and falls just slightly short of indium in transparent character.  The current device is 80% transparent to visible light and 100% transparent to infrared light.

The team constructed a prototype using a process that will be drastically changed and refined.  The prototype used graphite oxide flakes which were applied to form layers of surface coating between 10 nm to 100 nm thick.  The coating was then heated to remove the oxygen, leaving behind a simple graphene-like material.

Assuming a better production process can be devised, mass produced solar cells made cheaply and with even better efficiency.  The superior absorption of IR radiation would allow these cells to possibly surpass the production of traditional indium cells by capturing more of the EM spectrum.  The team stated that they strongly believe that visible light efficiencies of 90 percent or higher are achievable.

The biggest challenge is that the formation of graphene is difficult and often leaves "creases" of extra carbon atoms.  These creases distort light and lower the transparency.  A sheet of perfect graphene would have nearly 100% transparency across the EM spectrum, including visible light.  One positive, though is that the material is exceptionally stable and resistant to heat and acid, making processing much more viable.

While this discovery is likely 5 to 10 years from seeing serious production, it holds great promise to both provide unprecedented clean power and to provide a viable solution for electronics displays.  With the inevitable depletion of indium, this may be one process that is forced to move from theory to mass production at an accelerated rate.

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10 year supply?
By EglsFly on 12/29/2007 1:29:37 PM , Rating: 4
If there is an estimated 10 year supply of indium left and solar panels require this material. Why are organizations like Green Peace pushing Solar power as one of the future solutions to clean energy?

RE: 10 year supply?
By KristopherKubicki on 12/29/2007 1:36:17 PM , Rating: 4
There are other alternatives to indium, though surprisingly indium is the most cost efficient right now. At least it was until 2007.

RE: 10 year supply?
By dnd728 on 12/29/2007 5:45:33 PM , Rating: 5
Also, set aside Green Peace and their knowledge, solar power usually gets utilized by heating something rather by semiconductors, so there's really no need for any transparent conductors.

RE: 10 year supply?
By dnd728 on 12/29/2007 5:48:07 PM , Rating: 4
rather than, sorry

RE: 10 year supply?
By euclidean on 12/31/2007 12:40:53 AM , Rating: 1
Stock in indium rising? Indium > Gold/Platinum? lol...if it was always so rare why is it just now surfacing to the public...and why aren't more people buying up Indium coins instead of gold coins? Too hard to see due to it's transparency? lol!

/sarcasam....just found the thought pretty funny lol.

RE: 10 year supply?
By therealnickdanger on 12/31/2007 12:22:55 PM , Rating: 3
Funny how that works. Diamonds exist in massive supply and can be created inexpensively in labs, and then depending upon how shiny they look after being cut, we are supposed to spend ridiculous amounts of money on them. Ugh. Materialism is so effing weird.

I can understand wanting to spend 5K on a car, some home improvements, supporting starving children, or something that you'll actually USE, but simple minerals? Am I weird for not liking stuff just because it's shiny and the neighbor's wife got a bigger one?

RE: 10 year supply?
By Spuke on 12/31/2007 12:37:45 PM , Rating: 1
Am I weird for not liking stuff just because it's shiny and the neighbor's wife got a bigger one?
I am the same so either we're both weird or we're both normal. Women like diamonds and my wife insisted on a diamond ring (regardless of how I felt) so I bought her one, then she insisted that have diamonds in my ring too (I just wanted a plain band). Sigh. Oh well.

RE: 10 year supply?
By FrankM on 1/8/2008 11:45:02 AM , Rating: 2
I am the same so either we're both weird or we're both normal.

We're men :D
I agree. Diamonds are interesting and have some attributes great for specific tasks and uses in the industry; but jewelery? I don't think it's any prettier than glass, and all its other, much more useful attributes would be wasted in this form of usage.
There are some minerals that are much more common and IMO beautiful that should be used as jewelery instead. Oh wait, they aren't as exorbitantly expensive, so they are not good after all... /sarcasm/

RE: 10 year supply?
By Strunf on 1/1/2008 7:28:53 AM , Rating: 1
The synthetic diamonds aren't anywhere good enough to be compared to "natural" ones... at least from the point of a jeweler. And today there's still no way to make big synthetic diamonds, like women love.

RE: 10 year supply?
By Ammohunt on 1/2/2008 3:00:04 PM , Rating: 2
You are kidding right? Lab created diamonds are flawless thats how jewelers determine they are lab created. The De Beers diamond monoply sure has you indoctrinated.

RE: 10 year supply?
By Strunf on 1/3/2008 8:32:52 AM , Rating: 2
Flawless in what? Artificial diamonds often carry inclusions, sure the naturals ones may too but it's not me saying that they are flawless. And besides again the biggest artificial gem diamond is only 34 carats while the natural ones go over that "easily"...

Da Beers certainly didn't indoctrinate me but I can't say the same about GE having indoctrinated you...

RE: 10 year supply?
By OddTSi on 12/29/2007 1:37:01 PM , Rating: 3
You honestly think "organizations like Green Peace" have even remotely in-depth knowledge about things that they're talking about? They're hippies. If it's not about art or drugs they know jack you-know-what about it.

RE: 10 year supply?
By JackBeQuick on 12/29/2007 1:40:16 PM , Rating: 3
They're hippies. If it's not about art or drugs they know jack you-know-what about it.

Don't give them so much credit. It demeans us that actually know about art and drugs :)

RE: 10 year supply?
By TomZ on 12/29/2007 1:45:32 PM , Rating: 2
Just tell Greenpeace that India still has plenty of indium left, and they'll probably not worry about it too much. :o)

RE: 10 year supply?
By chrisld on 12/29/2007 1:58:38 PM , Rating: 4
I can verify that from experience. Unfortunately Green Peace are inadequate when it comes to having the scientific knowledge to back up their claims. They just create scares to keep themselves in the media. If they really were concerned about the environment they'd get some actual scientists onboard so they could do the right thing.

RE: 10 year supply?
By bpwilldo on 12/29/2007 5:05:47 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting comment.
My own take is that humans will spoil this planet to the point that we cannot live here. Eventually. I am resigned to that and don't care to care about it. However, there are others that do. I find it odd that some people have negative feelings against others who are doing what they can to protect our planet. Why is that bad?
I'm guessing you are a techiban.

RE: 10 year supply?
By TomZ on 12/29/2007 8:07:27 PM , Rating: 2
Being cynical is not the only reason to dislike Greenpeace. I personally think they are idiots for working to completely ban nuclear power. Nuclear power is the greenest technology available today for power generation, any they don't seem to understand that, or the implications of the other large-scale power generation options (coal, natural gas, etc.).

RE: 10 year supply?
By fake01 on 12/29/2007 8:37:09 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pro nuclear and think its a great alternative. But you have to look at Chernobyl. One single (rather large) disaster and everyone thinks its completely unsafe. The chances of a nuclear meltdown is VERY small. But so long as theres a "small" chance, nobody will except it. Well Green-Piece and those sorts of people at least.

I honestly don't know why we don't have nuclear power here in Australia. We got like the largest supply or Uranium in the world. I guess the government thinks it can get more money from it by selling it to places like America, UK etc. Better than the "clean" coal that we will soon be using, along with the tens of thousands of big wind power fan thingies.

But I'm sure there is a more efficient alternative to nuclear. Though I can't think of any at the moment.

RE: 10 year supply?
By TomZ on 12/29/2007 9:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
Chrynobyl is hardly a typical nuclear power plant by any standards, and it's not reasonable to use that as guide for setting public energy policy. Greenpeace should know better.

And how many people were killed/injured in that accident, the worst ever nuclear power plant disaster? Relatively few. Probably more people have died installing and servicing wind power generation towers.

RE: 10 year supply?
By DancingWind on 12/30/2007 10:39:55 AM , Rating: 3
Well Actually nobody know exactly how many are affected ... it was a huge embarecment to Soviet Union and therefore it was hushed up as much as possible. but let me tell you this, hundreds of so called firefighters 'voluters' were sent to 'put out the fire' ... they didn't know where they were going until they got to the chernoby, and noone told them how dangerous it is. And ppl had to work practically with no protective mesures. So please don't make comparations to stuff you dont know about.
On the nuclear power plant topic side, chernobyl type reators, two RBMK-1500 reactors (chernobyl had RBMK-1000 reactors) had been running for more than 25 years in my country (Lituania, Iganlina Nuclear Power Plant) without a hickup. Its all due to proper maintence and constat upgrade.

RE: 10 year supply?
By Masterrer on 12/30/2007 6:04:30 PM , Rating: 2
Hey! I wonder, how many fellow Lithuanians browse this site? You certainly exceeded my expectation ;]

RE: 10 year supply?
By tomosius on 1/2/2008 12:50:58 AM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately they're shutting down the 'Ignalinos Atomine Elektrine' and replacing it with a new one. Seems like a good idea, but it costs billions of dollars to shut it down, then it costs billions of dollars to build a new one. And when it is built, we will have to share the power with Estonia, Latvia and maybe some more countries, so power prices could get much higher ;[
P.S. Lietuviai šaunuoliai ;]

RE: 10 year supply?
By slunkius on 12/31/2007 6:31:05 AM , Rating: 1
Probably more people have died

now that's a very good argument, to which i can respond only with "probably you don't know s**t you are talking about"

P.S. regards to my fellow braliukai above :)

RE: 10 year supply?
By Shining Arcanine on 12/29/2007 11:05:49 PM , Rating: 2
The impact of radiation exposure from Chernobyl on people and wildlife was minimal at best. There is wildlife thriving in the area around Chernobyl:

A study of human exposure to radioactive material using data collected from places such as towns in the Soviet Union where people were exposed to large quantities of nuclear waste either by having to carry it or having it in their drinking water showed that radioactive material is not as hazardous as it is claimed to be:,1518,5...

A Chernobyl style disaster is extremely unlikely, but if one did happen, people in general could go about their lives as if nothing happened. Radioactive material is not as hazardous as it is claimed to be and there are self-proclaimed environmentalists talking about dumping radioactive waste in forests simply because it would keep people away without harming the environment.

RE: 10 year supply?
By homerdog on 12/30/2007 10:27:10 PM , Rating: 3
You obviously haven't played S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

RE: 10 year supply?
By meepstone on 12/29/2007 11:48:25 PM , Rating: 4
I think everyone looked at Chernobyl.

Only thing reliable that came out of Russia was the AK-47.

RE: 10 year supply?
By 440sixpack on 12/30/2007 12:03:25 AM , Rating: 3
The T-34 wasn't bad either. ;)

RE: 10 year supply?
By Suomynona on 12/31/2007 1:10:18 AM , Rating: 2
Russia produces some of the most reliable military hardware in the world. Such as the Mi-8.

"More than 12,000 Mi-8 (NATO codename Hip) multi-purpose helicopters have been produced, as well as more than 2,800 exported to over 50 air forces. Mi-8 family is the world's most produced helicopter design."

RE: 10 year supply?
By masher2 on 12/31/2007 1:37:10 PM , Rating: 2
> "Russia produces some of the most reliable military hardware in the world. Such as the Mi-8."

You have to be kidding. Soviet/Russian aircraft are some of the least reliable in the world, with many experts citing failure rates 100X higher than Western aircraft.

In the case of the MI-8, that helicopter is reputedly the cause of more crashes than any other military craft in the world, with it racking up at least 38 crashes in just a single 7-year period. Total figures are hard to obtain because, like all Russian aeronautic equipment, failure data is often suppressed for political reasons:

RE: 10 year supply?
By Lord 666 on 12/30/2007 12:27:45 AM , Rating: 5
Stoli vodka reliably gets me drunk

RE: 10 year supply?
By PAPutzback on 12/31/2007 1:38:17 PM , Rating: 2
You win. Someone give this guy a 6.

RE: 10 year supply?
By Ben on 12/30/2007 4:49:52 AM , Rating: 3
Chernobyl was hardly a typical case.

It was the result of untrained operators performing disaster inviting tests at an inherently flawed facility. Anyone interested should Google the name and read about exactly what NOT to do at a nuclear power plant.

If anyone ever duplicates the situation again, they should have their nuclear plants taken away and be given a red ball to play with instead.

RE: 10 year supply?
By maximal on 12/31/2007 3:26:51 PM , Rating: 2
shhhhh don't give out government secrets, that's not Uranium, those are Tiberium deposits.

Ok everyone Mammoth Tank rush Australia, go go go...

RE: 10 year supply?
By bodar on 12/31/2007 5:32:27 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pro nuclear and think its a great alternative. But you have to look at Chernobyl. One single (rather large) disaster and everyone thinks its completely unsafe. The chances of a nuclear meltdown is VERY small. But so long as theres a "small" chance, nobody will except it. Well Green-Piece and those sorts of people at least.

And that's why such people are dumb. Challenger exploded, so clearly space travel is unsafe, eh? Maybe they just take "24" a bit too seriously. I love that show to death, but I can tell fantasy from reality.

RE: 10 year supply?
By RogueSpear on 12/30/2007 12:54:23 AM , Rating: 4
Nuclear power is the greenest technology available today for power generation

Quote of the year. Spoken by a well qualified environmental scientist.

RE: 10 year supply?
By maximal on 12/31/2007 3:00:45 PM , Rating: 2
Nuclear power is the greenest technology available today...

Sure, it makes everything around itself glowing green.

RE: 10 year supply?
By masher2 on 12/31/2007 4:18:17 PM , Rating: 2
I don't suppose you realize that current NRC regulations require nuclear plants to be *less* radioactive than the air around them, far less radioactivity than you're exposed to from a countless number of natural sources, everything from bananas (radioactive potassium), your home (radioactive radon), plane fights and high altitude cities (cosmic rays), and dozens of other sources.

Nuclear power is green as it generates less overall pollution than any other source, including wind or solar. Windmills and solar cells may not pollute in operation...their pollution comes during the mining and manufacture required to build them, in quantites thousands of times higher than those required for compact, high-output nuclear reactors.

RE: 10 year supply?
By Leeman on 12/29/2007 4:41:57 PM , Rating: 4
Better yet, why aren't we recycling indium. Surely there is some way to recover the element for re-use.

RE: 10 year supply?
By Ringold on 12/30/2007 8:09:22 PM , Rating: 2
No doubt there is. Now, whether it makes sense to shoulder that cost versus draw from existing sources or find alternatives is an entirely different question; it also happens to be the relevant question when dealing with any sort of recycling program.

RE: 10 year supply?
By TheOtherBubka on 12/31/2007 9:02:42 AM , Rating: 2
Yes indium is being 'recycled' but not the way you think of.
It is being recycled from unspent indium targets used to help make the indium tin oxide electrodes.


or for a more in depth pdf:

Note; I do not work for the above company or am associated with in any that I know of way the above company.

RE: 10 year supply?
By TheOtherBubka on 12/31/2007 8:59:14 AM , Rating: 6

I always love DT for bringing in science news that other sites do not but somehow, somewhere, someone has mixed their metaphors regarding 'indium' and 'transparency' and the like. Indium is a metal and is not transparent when it is 60 nm thick, and is used in only certain types of solar panels (CIGS, amorphous Si, and dye cells) that use a transparent conducting oxide such as indium tin oxide (commonly abbreviated as ITO) or fluorine doped tin oxide (FTO). When indium reacts to form the oxide it becomes 'transparent.' The trade off between the two is ITO has a lower resistivity but lower transparency in the visible and FTO is the corollary. However, neither are transparent in the IR, whether 900 nm or 10,000 nm, as both can be used to reflect room temperature IR radiation. And the 'window' industry puts out much more coated glass a year than the solar industry (although silver (Ag) in a Fabry-Prot filter arrangement similar to fiber optic communication stacks is the most common window visible transparent-IR reflective arrangement).

Furthermore, as a contrary point of view, see:
I don't necessarily agree with their views, but they make
a living on making their views 'the correct view' similar
to the way scientists argue 'their view of the future is correct' when they write proposals.

You can compare 'graphene' to ITO or FTO but not to indium. And none by themselves are a solar product.

RE: 10 year supply?
By KristopherKubicki on 12/31/2007 9:26:00 AM , Rating: 2

We put a little too much faith in the MPI release.

RE: 10 year supply?
By rcc on 12/31/2007 10:35:38 AM , Rating: 3
If there is an estimated 10 year supply of indium left and solar panels require this material. Why are organizations like Green Peace pushing Solar power

Because for the most part they are more interested in headlines and obstruction than in actual long term solutions.

Oh No
By TomZ on 12/29/2007 1:20:21 PM , Rating: 2
Don't let the greenies know that the world is running short on indium. Otherwise we'll hear about groups like Greenpeace taking a strong stance against solar power and energy-saving LCD displays! I can just see it now...we all have return to using CRTs, LOL.

RE: Oh No
By KristopherKubicki on 12/29/2007 1:22:54 PM , Rating: 2
That sounds like a walking argument for SED or OLED. Too bad SED is dead in the water. Go Sammy / Sony!

RE: Oh No
By PedroDaGr8 on 12/30/2007 2:55:56 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, OLEDs require Indium too. OLEDs are deposited on ITO(Indium Tin Oxide) glass, which forms one of the conductive layers.

RE: Oh No
By DeepBlue1975 on 12/29/2007 3:51:47 PM , Rating: 2
They will say:

Save the indium!!!
And the ad will feature some Indian speaking in Latin about how he and his relatives are being slaughtered by people of the SPMM (Solar Panel Making Mafia), who take their heads off and make the panels out of their bare skin.

RE: Oh No
By bpwilldo on 12/29/07, Rating: 0
RE: Oh No
By TomZ on 12/29/2007 8:08:40 PM , Rating: 2
It was a joke, dumb-ass.

RE: Oh No
By bpwilldo on 12/30/2007 9:47:38 AM , Rating: 1
Simply stringing together words and ending with a "LOL" does not a joke make. At a minimum, a joke should be mildly amusing.

RE: Oh No
By sheh on 12/29/2007 8:14:46 PM , Rating: 2
"Techiban"? Is that good or bad?

RE: Oh No
By Ringold on 12/30/2007 8:12:18 PM , Rating: 4
Google comes up blank. If Google doesn't immediately have a source on the first page, it's obscure enough that the OP must just be a dork. :P

In fact, its so obscure there are two links on the first page to this very DT article.

Language evolving before our eyes.. groovy.

RE: Oh No
By Pythias on 12/29/2007 9:45:17 PM , Rating: 2
What in the name of Buddha's Brazen Bollocks is a techiban?

RE: Oh No
By RIPPolaris on 12/30/2007 3:51:19 AM , Rating: 2
Apparently someone who is against new technology.

Dude. It was a joke.

RE: Oh No
By Fritzr on 12/30/2007 4:03:38 AM , Rating: 3
For those that didn't get it: tech+Taliban. Think fundamentalist mentality with an extreme dislike for technology. Non-denominational, it just happens to be that the best known fundamentalist group today is the Taliban.

RE: Oh No
By bpwilldo on 12/30/2007 9:04:11 AM , Rating: 1
No, it is my term for posters that write as though the Daily Tech bloggers are prophets. There are a few frequent posters who attack anyone who should offer a view that is contrary to what the "prophets" proclaim. These posters are especially vehement when protecting their messiah, masher2.

RE: Oh No
By JackBeQuick on 12/30/2007 10:51:41 AM , Rating: 2
Just FYI

Dailytech doesn't ban self-proclaimed child molesters, but they do ban people who insult other users. I'd probably cool it on the holier-than-art attitude too.

RE: Oh No
By masherII on 12/30/2007 12:18:28 PM , Rating: 2
I wasn't insulting anyone. Merely pointing out that which is evident.

To be banned from making posts on DailyTECH is a non-issue.

Even so, thank you for the non-solicited advice, I'll give it all due consideration.

RE: Oh No
By KristopherKubicki on 12/30/2007 1:13:44 PM , Rating: 2
Well James doesn't speak for the site, but using puppet accounts is a bannable offense. I suggest you knock that off if that's what you're doing.

RE: Oh No
By PAPutzback on 12/31/2007 1:42:27 PM , Rating: 2
What is a puppet account? I might have one accidentally because I changed an email address and had to create a enw account because I don't have the password for the other one.

Go Colts

RE: Oh No
By Pezman37 on 12/30/2007 7:21:18 AM , Rating: 2
Free speech and all that jazz but, bpwilldo = I need attention from nonsense speak 'cause my theories are a hair on the crackpot side.

In other news when I tried to look up a few sources on just how many had died in Chernobyl I was getting numbers all over the map. One thing I did see was that Greenpeace's number was a lot higher than anyone else's.

"Chernobyl, Ukraine — A new Greenpeace report has revealed that the full consequences of the Chernobyl disaster could top a quarter of a million cancer cases and nearly 100,000 fatal cancers."


This article isn't very old, and the technology for cleaner nuclear power is a fair bit older. So it seems to me that they might still have some sort of axe to grind. Maybe that axe should rest more with the failings of communism and not with nuclear power, but just a thought.

RE: Oh No
By sheh on 12/29/2007 8:13:35 PM , Rating: 4
Back to CRTs? Count me in. It's about time decent monitors were made again, and post-LCD alternatives don't look like a reality for a least a few more years.

RE: Oh No
By Holytrinity on 12/29/2007 8:31:00 PM , Rating: 3
I can just see it now...we all have return to using CRTs, LOL.

Nothing wrong with that IMO. I've gamed on both LCD and CRT monitors, and I have both a high end LCD (1080p) and CRT TV (720p/1080i) and in both cases I prefer my CRT's over my LCD's. The only advantage I see with the LCD technology in either case is size which, for me at least, is not an issue.

RE: Oh No
By Ringold on 12/30/2007 8:16:24 PM , Rating: 2
I .. can not stand TN panels. S-IPS ones are beautiful in many cases, but also require me to sell a kidney on the black market. CRT's aren't perfect, I don't have rose-colored glasses, but they were darn good anyway. A lot of this panel technology today is low-quality junk foisted upon the masses that otherwise don't know any better.

Solar energy research is short of Govt funding.
By crystal clear on 12/30/2007 1:42:13 AM , Rating: 2
This reminds me of a similar article posted on D.T.

IBM announced today a new process that it invented to take discarded silicon wafers and reclaim them specifically to be sold to the solar cell manufacturing industry

Govts/countries have consistantly ignored solar energy is an alternative source of energy.
Funding for research in this area has been symbolic rather than a serious attempt to switch over from oil or nuclear energy.

Nor have they provided sufficient tax credits to companies involved in their R&D ventures for solar energy.

Its only when the oil prices shoot up sky high now USD 96 a barrel, after trading as high as $97.92 do they wake up & start talking about alternative sources of energy.
Oil price are expected to hit $100 levels very soon.

This is not the first time oil prices have skyrocketed,it has happened many a times in the past & we continue to live with it & suffer.

Its high time the US Govt diverts portion of its defence expenditure to solar energy research as a "top priority project".
We can live with a smaller defence budget but certainly not with those high prices of oil.

Take away the power or the clout from the OPEC by switching over to solar energy.

We need the SUN & not their OIL !

By elpresidente2075 on 12/30/2007 1:48:43 AM , Rating: 3
It is fortunate that you are not running any government agencies.

By crystal clear on 12/30/2007 8:07:48 AM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately goverment agencies are run by political appointees whose job is to enforce the politcal agenda of their superiors namely the politicians.

Unfortunately you are not aware of this nor if those running those govt agencies are fit to be in their jobs in the first place.

Fortunately I run my own business succesfully & too busy to spend my work hours responding to dumb responses.

Fortunately or Unfortunately maybe you have a Govt job with nothing much to do, so you keep yourself busy surfing the net.

Find somebody else to kill those idle hours-bye

By elpresidente2075 on 1/3/2008 12:01:51 AM , Rating: 2
Fortunately I run my own business succesfully & too busy to spend my work hours responding to dumb responses.

</family guy>

RE: Solar energy research is short of Govt funding.
By ice456789 on 12/30/2007 8:35:21 AM , Rating: 2
We're sending soldiers to war without body armor already, would you take away their guns too just to promote R&D on solar panels? Ugh.

Why does the government need to subsidize solar R&D? How many solar energy plants does the government own? Companies can invest their own money in it, because the company that makes a big breakthrough stands to make a very nice profit selling that technology. Imagine if someone created a solar panel that was actually useful to regular people without having to cover your entire roof with it. I'd be willing to spend a good amount on a smaller solar panel that reduced my energy bills. Like inventing those energy efficient lightbulbs, if they succeed in making that breakthrough everyone will use it and they will make their R&D costs back very quickly. No need for the government to pay them.

By crystal clear on 12/31/2007 8:40:38 AM , Rating: 2
I answer your question with a question.

Why does governments(USA in this case) finance/subsidize space research/exploration ?

Which is top priority ? - solar energy research or space research ?

What benefit do you get by space research ? does it help you pay your bills or cutdown your expenses ?

No my friend, the taxes you pay should be better used in solar energy research to cut down your energy bills & your living cost,not to blow it off in space research or outer space .

Plus for companies to cut down their cost - due to high energy costs they incur because even they pay taxes like you.

Its good for you & companies-you would pay less for their products (high or low enrgy cost are ultimately passed on to you)

Govt invest on solar energy research because its good for the ECONOMY,the returns are benefical in the long term.
The economy effects your lifestyle on a day to day basis.

Govts should give funding to Universities & research institutions-they dont operate for a profit do they ?

Do you realize what your take home salary would be with lower energy bills ?

Do you realize how much you pay for that OIL?

Is it really worth $100 per barrel ?

Solar energy will bring those oil prices to $10 as they would be few buyers aroound for oil based products & services.

Demand & Supply theory at work.

Those Arab princes/kings/sheikhs live a lifestyle you would only fantasize for yourself thanks to those high OIL prices that enables them to do so.

Thanks to them (Arabs) they control you & the oil supplies & prices.

Think - "those high prices you pay more & more by the day."

WHY should you pay more ? think

Lets be practical & realistic.

By elpresidente2075 on 1/5/2008 11:35:29 AM , Rating: 2
And where do you think those Sheiks are spending all that money? In their own countries. Giving hundreds of thousands of jobs to people who are a whole heck of a lot less fortunate than you. Think of it as charity. We are helping out the rest of the world by infusing money into their economies in the most natural (and IMO best) way.

Solar is cool, but there are much better options.

Article not correct !!!!!!!!!
By plip on 12/30/2007 6:28:15 AM , Rating: 5
"Solar cells have always relied on the metal indium"

I´m sorry but this article is completely rubbish. 95% of the world production of solar cells is based on crystalline silicon material and these solar cells DO NOT use indium.

It is true that Indium is used in certain types of solar cells either as an element in contacting of the cell or as an active element for photovoltaic generation but those types of cells make up a small percentage of the total production.

What the German researchers are trying might solve a problem for those type of cells but the other 95% don´t need to be saved. This is a topic I know something about so I start to wonder how much rubbish there is in other articles that I´m not aware of :)

RE: Article not correct !!!!!!!!!
By Pezman37 on 12/30/2007 7:52:17 AM , Rating: 2
They seem to use it in older generations of solar devices, so maybe today what you said is true, and his facts are just out of date.

Wiki seems vague on the subject (it's wiki of course) of just actually how much it's used, but maybe you work for a company uses very little, or daily is way off base. I have no way of knowing which is more factual so far, but I'd like to find out.

RE: Article not correct !!!!!!!!!
By plip on 12/30/2007 8:07:27 AM , Rating: 6
Daily is way off base :)

look in the wiki reference. It´s mentioned there also that "By far, the most prevalent bulk material for solar cells is crystalline silicon". This is the material for > 95% of all solar cells. These don´t use any Indium.

Indium can be used in the contacts of so-called amorphous silicon solar cells (1-2% of all solar cells) or as active material in CIS (Copper-Indium-Selenide) cells (<1% of all solar cells).

What is true is that in the US there is a lot of activity on these so-called thin film solar cells but still, world-wide they only contribute a few % to the production.

By the way, I work in a European research center on crystalline Si solar cells.

RE: Article not correct !!!!!!!!!
By bpwilldo on 12/30/07, Rating: -1
By TheOtherBubka on 12/31/2007 9:11:43 AM , Rating: 2
Plip, you are 100% correct. As we apparently both know something about the solar market. I posted some other information about indium, ITO, etc above.

In particular, a simple Google search and looking until
page 8 of:

Crystalline silicon (c-Si) photovoltaics dominate the industry, accounting for about 93 percent of
all installed PV modules.

Whether single crystal or polycrystalline, it is all Si.

Unerfunded??? You bet.
By TheOtherBubka on 12/31/2007 9:26:25 AM , Rating: 2
A simple search shows a few years ago, the amount of money that went into solar photovoltaic R&D was around $77 million dollars (to NREL). That included salaries and research money. It is supposedly up to $148 million (
but some of that money is 'earmarked' for certain ways that it can be spent. So that is about $.50 of tax revenue per every US person. The Federal tax per gallon of gas is 18.3 cents. You pay more in taxes in 3 gallons of gas than what tax money goes to solar research per person.

Compare that to cost of 1 F-22 Raptor:
$160 million from
$117 million from

It's a pennies to $10's of dollars comparison when the solar research area is compared to any single defense R&D program.

RE: Unerfunded??? You bet.
By masher2 on 12/31/2007 9:52:43 AM , Rating: 2
This is highly misleading. In 2007, the DoE directly awarded some $600M in grants for alternative energy research, which included around $150M for solar power. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. It doesn't include NSF funding for solar-related work, or the tens of billions in funding for Universities and national laboratories, some of which was assuredly spent on alternative energy research.

It also excludes the huge amount of federal tax credits, deductions, and loan guarantees for corporate investment into alternative energy. Finally, it excludes private-only sources of funding, which in 2004 alone, totalled some $30B for alternative energy R&D.

RE: Unerfunded??? You bet.
By Ringold on 12/31/2007 3:54:59 PM , Rating: 2
Finally, it excludes private-only sources of funding, which in 2004 alone, totalled some $30B for alternative energy R&D.

That is such an important point to consider for all the sky-is-falling types, but never is. Perhaps in a country with such an oppressive size of government as to crowd out much private spending, such as some of Western Europe, government spending can really move the needle. However, in America, when a need actually exists the market recognizes it and allocates vast amounts of resources. I don't know where you got the $30B number Masher, but there are probably many such investors that wouldn't willingly reveal to the world they even made such a "green" investment; they don't want attention to whatever they're funding, because attention may lead to undue competition.

If the government attempted to fund everything to a level that even compares to private funding, we'd look like Italy with ridiculous amounts of debt and not much to show for it. Dollar for dollar private spending is always more efficient, so we'd also have a much weaker economy.

There are several solar power companies, including Evergreen, First Solar, and a few more that are always in the news (including a Chinese one), all locked in brutal capitalist competition. Government funding could stop entirely and these guys would still have the one of the most powerful incentives known to man to improve their technology; profit.

RE: Unerfunded??? You bet.
By TheOtherBubka on 12/31/2007 11:21:52 PM , Rating: 2
Masher, your numbers support what I say. The article was not about total alternative energy research (which hydrogen gets a large chunk) and thus is not misleading.

As it is DoE's primary mission to develop energy technologies, it is clear to compare DoD and DoE. Is it not DoD's primary mission to develop defense related technologies? Also, if you take the $600M for TOTAL alternative energy research you use, it doesn't change the total point. That moves it up to 4 planes from 1.5.

Another way to look at it this is DoE sponsored 'total alternative energy research' is funded at the level less than $2.00 per every US citizen. Someone pays more in Federal gas tax in 11 gallons of gas than the total amount spent on 'alternative energy research' per capita. It is so inconsequential, that it is not even worth making a point over. Certain highway projects get funded at higher levels.

Adding private funding doesn't do anything either to the argument. Do not the pharmaceuticals spend more on R&D than NIH grants in a year? To bring it back to the DoD, how much is in private R&D for all of the companies in defense related projects compared to DARPA or DoD research funding?

RE: Unerfunded??? You bet.
By masher2 on 1/1/2008 3:15:01 AM , Rating: 2
> "As it is DoE's primary mission to develop energy technologies"

Incorrect. The DoE's mission is to promote the economic and energy security of the United States. Developing new technologies is only part of that puzzle.

> " if you take the $600M for TOTAL alternative energy research...that moves it up to 4 planes."

You're still missing the point. DOE research is only a small part of all federal spending on alternative energy. And federal spending itself pales in comparison to private funding.

That is as it should be. We're still a capitalist nation, not a socialist one. The private sector should be the primary source of new technology.

As for new military hardware, that's a role that should be filled by government. I'd prefer to see MIT and IBM developing solar cells and the government buying F-22 Raptors, rather than the other way around.

RE: Unerfunded??? You bet.
By TheOtherBubka on 1/3/2008 10:57:13 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong masher. Read their mission statement:

The Department of Energy's overarching mission is to advance the national, economic, and energy security of the United States; to promote scientific and technological innovation in support of that mission; and to ensure the environmental cleanup of the national nuclear weapons complex.

Clearly stated. It is their responsibility to develop the technology for energy security. Our nation's security depends not only on the military. If we all had cheap energy from some unlimited natural resource domestically, do we really need to protect oil interests overseas?

So again, should we abolish DOT? Don't they take care of the roads? Seems like they are very socialist in building new roads.

Your arguments again strengthen these. And if you continue to say the other sectors of federal funding for solar research is greater than DOE, please show it. As well as how much in private R&D versus gov't for solar.

More on Indium
By TomZ on 12/29/2007 1:25:30 PM , Rating: 3
Based on content of indium in zinc ore stocks, there is a world-wide reserve base of approximately 6,000 tonnes of economically-viable indium. This figure has led to estimates suggesting that, at current consumption rates, there is only 13 years' supply of indium left. However, such estimates are often regarded as alarmist and scaremongering . The Indium Corporation, the largest processor of indium, claim that, on the basis of increasing recovery yields during extraction, recovery from a wider range of base metals (including tin, copper and other polymetallic deposits) and new mining investments, the long-term supply of indium is sustainable, reliable and sufficient to meet increasing future demands. This conclusion also seems reasonable in light of the fact that silver, a less abundant element, is currently mined at approximately 18,300 tonnes per annum, which is 40 times greater than current indium mining rates.

I know wikipedia is not authoritative...

RE: More on Indium
By KristopherKubicki on 12/29/2007 1:35:35 PM , Rating: 3
I think claiming shortages of indium are "alarmist" doesn't jive with what Indium Corporation claims, which makes me wonder who got the info for the source of that quote.

It is insightful, however, to note that an earlier supply demand simulation including a 40% CAGR for FPD industry results in a noteworthy indium shortage for 2007 and 2008. (source: Indium Corporation)

Panel manufacturers are already getting crunched on demand, with a very large projected shortage for 2009. Maybe they're doing it just to hike the price of indium? Maybe they're just in a supply crunch right now.

Either way alternatives to indium are certainly necessary. If Max Plank, Indium Corporation and Wikipedia don't have a consensus on the exact date when Indium will run out, I'm not too concerned about it.

RE: More on Indium
By Keeir on 12/29/2007 7:04:55 PM , Rating: 2
I think there is a big difference between Indium and economically viable Indium. Added to this, are the large costs of starting a new type of Indium mining operation and refinement process.

RE: More on Indium
By Ringold on 12/30/2007 8:38:30 PM , Rating: 1
This is all just beautiful to me, and I hope nuts that come out of the woodwork saying "we live beyond our means" and "we're running out of resources" sky-is-falling types pay attention to news such as this -- but of course, if they were paying attention, they wouldn't be nuts in the first place.

A shortage starts to loom of a somewhat important material. No alternative exists. Instead of society freezing up and sub-industries collapsing, someone gets to work and ultimately finds a viable, possibly even superior, alternative. Just the way it always has been and always will be.

Same thing goes on in energy research in general; as long as oil stays above probably $45 (thats the magic number I always hear in terms of extraction costs versus the costs of other potential technologies), there will be a furious amount of alternative research going on even if the government doesn't fork over a dime in subsidies or research grants. All government intervention seems to have done is greviously caused massive inflation in food costs among the urban poor globally (not so much in the West), those who can least afford it.

Indium being replaced here by carbon is just life moving along as expected. Why people think the whole world functions normally except energy I don't know; I'd like to think so many people aren't really so brainwashed, but I suppose it's possible..

RE: More on Indium
By FastLaneTX on 12/31/2007 12:42:37 PM , Rating: 2
Shortages don't mean that we're running out of stuff in the ground, just that we're not mining it as fast as we're using it. As the wikipedia article said, we're mining silver 40 times as fast and there's less of it total; that means the only problem with indium is a supply/demand imbalance -- which will correct itself as the price rises. Either more people will start mining indium and/or the people who need it will find alternatives.

Scotty had this puzzle solved years ago
By Etsp on 12/29/2007 3:55:22 PM , Rating: 3
Why couldn't we just use transparent aluminum? ;P

By Enoch2001 on 12/29/2007 4:13:55 PM , Rating: 3
Why couldn't we just use transparent aluminum? ;P

"Hellooooo computer..." (speaks into mouse)

By kmmatney on 12/29/2007 5:34:57 PM , Rating: 2
or TranspariSteel?

By Shining Arcanine on 12/29/2007 11:08:39 PM , Rating: 2
The next time you make a Star Trek reference, please let it be on a topic in the realm of science fiction and not on something that actually exists:

By elFarto on 12/29/2007 5:44:36 PM , Rating: 3
Carbon, is there anything it can't do?

RE: Carbon
By Fenixgoon on 12/29/2007 7:40:32 PM , Rating: 3
be made into useful things? *cough* nanotechnology *cough* :P

seriously though, it's a shame that there's such a large barrier between a scientific breakthrough and a true revolution in materials engineering.

scientists can make marvels on a small scale, but it's a whole different ballgame trying to scale things up to an industrial process.

RE: Carbon
By CryptoQuick on 12/31/2007 6:42:29 AM , Rating: 2
Here's to you, Inanimate Carbon Rod!

RE: Carbon
By maximal on 12/31/2007 3:10:20 PM , Rating: 2
It can even get you laid. Well at least an allotrope of it can.

chernobyl was ironic
By rika13 on 12/30/2007 8:42:51 AM , Rating: 2
ironicly, chernobyl was designed to reuse spent fuel rods from other plants; yep, the biggest nuclear enviromental disaster was actually supposed to be green:)

not surprising, after all, wind power kills birds that get whacked by the turbines while they migrate; coal doesnt produce nuclear waste, but kills the air; and al gore talks about global warming, but is full of hot air

RE: chernobyl was ironic
By James Holden on 12/30/2007 10:55:14 AM , Rating: 2
wind power kills birds that get whacked by the turbines while they migrate;

I think that's been largely disproven

RE: chernobyl was ironic
By masher2 on 12/30/2007 10:19:35 PM , Rating: 2
massive fiberglass blades on the more than 4,000 windmills have been chopping up tens of thousands of birds that fly into them, including golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, burrowing owls and other raptors.

After years of study but little progress reducing bird kills, environmentalists have sued to force turbine owners to take tough corrective measures.

...a California Energy Commission study in August [2004] found bird fatalities much higher than had been thought...them.

There has been talk that newer windmills are less harmful to birds than the ones at Altamonte, but little hard data exists to corroborate this.

BTW, the Altamonte suit was dismissed by a federal judge late last year.

By thartist on 12/29/2007 10:51:12 PM , Rating: 2
Holy crap! That Odiogo engine sounds so realistic! but how corny the chimes are, it's a repugnant excess.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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