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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 Fritzr on 3/22/2010 11:00:26 PM , Rating: 2
I found many relevant news and product reports with the following Google search string "solar power generatiion highway parking lot"

How much more is there that was missed by this search? Even with just the examplesfrom this search, a new more efficient photovoltaic cell will greatly improve power generation.

Forget long distance distribution of photovoltaic electricity. Most of the power will be used close to the point of generation. This is distributed power generation, not the centralized generation that is the current model our utility system is based on.

Note: This post lacks any links due to a constantly repeated "This post is apparently spam" message. Run the Google search to see highways paved with solar panels (now in initial production), Parking lots with solar panel roofs (currently producing excess electricity) and other things that are being dismissed as Pie in the Sky or useless in this thread.


RE: Promises promises
By whiskerwill on 3/22/2010 11:44:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Parking lots with solar panel roofs (currently producing excess electricity) and other things that are being dismissed as Pie in the Sky or useless in this thread.
rofl, so you believe just because we actually used some solar cells somewhere, that proves solar power is actualy a good idea?


RE: Promises promises
By Fritzr on 3/23/2010 2:40:35 AM , Rating: 2
No it proves that those parking lots now are lit after dark and are paid for the excess power they don't need. Oddly enough they do not have problems with lighting that has been stated and restated in these threads as the killer problem with overhead solar panels.

I realize that a negative power bill is bad for the centralized utility's revenue stream, but it does demonstrate that it is possible for individuals to operate their own personal electric utility with enough capacity for their own needs and a small excess that can be sold to the neighbors.

These real world, functioning today, examples using old tech just prove we don't need more efficient photovoltaics. Or maybe they just demonstrate that current tech can do the job and more efficient tech will generate still more excess electricity.

Bad news for centralized utilities when the consumers start putting power into the grid and getting paid for their share of decentralized micro-generation. Good news for consumers though, especially as more efficient tech allows an increase in KW per sq meter.

Micro-generation does not need to be 100% replacement. If it handles 50% of demand then that capacity of dams, nukes, coal, oil etc. electric generation plants no longer needs to exist.


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