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Research team is looking to make solar panels more efficient and give LEDs color changing capability

A pair of researchers at Arizona State University has announced a new advancement in making nanowires that could one day lead to significantly more efficient solar panels and LED lighting that is color changeable. The engineers who made the advance are Cun-Zheng Ning and Alian Pan.

The pair are working on ways to improve the quaternary alloy semiconductor nanowire raw materials. The nanowires the pair work with are nanometers in diameter and tens of microns in length. They are made from four elements, typically by alloying two or more compound semiconductors.

The researchers say that the band gap is the most important thing that controls how solar panels absorb sunlight and what color light LEDs produce. The more available band gaps for solar panels, the more of the spectrum of light panels will be able to absorb. With LEDs, more band gaps mean more colors of light can be produced. 

The big hurdle for the researchers is that naturally occurring and manmade semiconductors today only have a specific band gap. The only way to widen the band gap available to the semiconductor is to compound two or more semiconductors. The trick to accomplishing the alloy of semiconductors is that they two have to have a lattice with similar inter-atomic spaces to match and be grown together.

Ning said, "This is why we cannot grow alloys of arbitrary compositions to achieve arbitrary band gaps. This lack of available band gaps is one of reasons current solar cell efficiency is low, and why we do not have LED lighting colors that can be adjusted for various situations."

So far, the team has been able to create a zinc sulfide and cadmium selenide alloy to produce a quaternary semiconductor – this is the first time that a quaternary semiconductor has been produced in the form of a nanowire or nanoparticle. The team is now studying the application and use of the quaternary alloy materials for making solar cells and has developed a lateral multi-cell design panel.



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RE: Promises promises
By icanhascpu on 3/22/2010 1:27:51 PM , Rating: -1
1. Who said we cant trim trees on apply material to parts of buildings facing the sun at nicer angles? All or nothing huh? The only cost analysis youd have to do is make sure the material will last long enough to be a sound investment.

2. What kind of silly logic is assuming solor wont be simply fortifying a cities main power? Making arguments like NYC would have to have a solor grid bigger than it is, is retarded. Trees cant be trimmed? lol?

3. Its not that hard to store power for a few days. Esp when its FREE. Its a huge no shit Shurlock that some areas will get less sun than others, that doesn't mean to scrap the whole thing.

This all doesn't matter anyway. Nuclear is pounding at the door of policy. The more oil and coal we use, the weaker that door of ignorance gets.


RE: Promises promises
By porkpie on 3/22/2010 1:40:41 PM , Rating: 2
"ts not that hard to store power for a few days. Esp when its FREE. Its a huge no shit Shurlock t"

I'm not sure why I'm replying to this sort of mentality, but the fact remains there is no practical means to store the vast amounts of power required by cities for overnight periods. None. Do a little research.

Batteries don't come close to the energy levels required,and would be far too expensive even if they did. Pumped hydro is effective...but it requires a large dam and a few million acres of water-covered land. Systems like molten salt storage waste half or more of the power stored.

Even without power storage, solar is prohibitively expensive. Throw storage into the mix, and it can be 30-50X as costly as conventional electricity. If you really don't mind having your $200/m power bill go to $10,000, then solar is right for you.

"Trees cant be trimmed? lol?"

The problem in cities like NYC isn't trees, its other buildings. Want to "trim" the Empire State Building so that neighboring structures aren't shaded? Worse, any structure more than a story or two tall is going to have too little roof area to meet its power needs-- shade or no shade.


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