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Author Topic: How is nanotechnology being utilised to improve solar panels?  (Read 4016 times)

Offline doppler1

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I am always hearing about the amazing new feats enabled by the employment of nanotechnology to break through the barriers that technology had put in place....I am very interested to hear if Nanotechnology is being developed or implemented to improve the efficiency, strength and/or storage capabilities of solar panels or solar powered technology. I guess the same could and should be asked of all the sustainable clean energy options.


 

Offline doppler1

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How is nanotechnology being utilised to improve solar panels?
« Reply #1 on: 19/04/2010 13:53:53 »
Thanks BenV for asking me to post this instead of leaving it in the depths of another Q&A string
 

Offline Geezer

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How is nanotechnology being utilised to improve solar panels?
« Reply #2 on: 19/04/2010 19:15:52 »
There was some research going on into nanoantennas, but I'm not sure if it got very far. I think the general idea was to collect the EM radiation with incredibly small antennas tuned to the desired light frequency in the hope that this might provide a more efficient coupling mechanism than regular photovoltaic devices.
 

Offline doppler1

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How is nanotechnology being utilised to improve solar panels?
« Reply #3 on: 20/04/2010 05:38:45 »
Thanks Geezer! I am surprised that these technologies have not been developed quicker than they have. I would have thought that batteries would have also been developed a lot more than they have to date.
 

Offline Geezer

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How is nanotechnology being utilised to improve solar panels?
« Reply #4 on: 20/04/2010 05:48:59 »
I would have thought that batteries would have also been developed a lot more than they have to date.

It's not for the want of trying.
 

Offline doppler1

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How is nanotechnology being utilised to improve solar panels?
« Reply #5 on: 20/04/2010 07:04:11 »
I guess so! What is it that is the insurmountable technological hurdle that is slowing us down as far as batteries are concerned?
 

Offline graham.d

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How is nanotechnology being utilised to improve solar panels?
« Reply #6 on: 20/04/2010 13:55:44 »
Solar cells are not especially improved by the same technology that makes better microchips. Photovoltaic solar cells use very large area diodes so there is nothing to be gained from the ability to control dimensions to a few tens of nanometres whereas there is huge advantages from such control in microelectronics. There is, of course, gain from the development of hyper-clean areas and other techniques that reduce defect levels in the devices and this certainly is a payback from the semiconductor industry.

Efficiencies have been achieved in the 40% region, which is quite good, and there is some promise of much greater efficiency in the future, but this is not the only criterion for worthwhile manufacture. A large element of cost effectiveness is the time to pay back the cost of using the cell compared with normal electricity generation. Typically this can be several years with the longer time being for the higher cost, high efficiency devices. It can be much better in many applications to have twice the area of devices with half the efficiency for example, especially if these devices are a tenth of the cost! The drive for very high efficiency is from specialist applications where space or weight is a key factor.
 

Offline kckuhns

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How is nanotechnology being utilised to improve solar panels?
« Reply #7 on: 01/05/2010 01:41:06 »
There is a new process for solar panel manufacturing that utilizes nanotechnology for faster and lower-cost production of panels. The process uses nano particles suspended in a liquid "ink" that is then deposited on very long rolls of film that are then cut into panels. The process results in very high efficiency of production, lowering the cost per watt of the panels. the process, to the best of my knowledge, was patented by Nanosolar in California.

Kevin
 

Offline graham.d

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How is nanotechnology being utilised to improve solar panels?
« Reply #8 on: 01/05/2010 09:48:19 »
Yes, these seem good. The emphasis is, correctly, on cost efficiency rather than energy conversion efficiency and the aim is for large scale utility use. They can be produced in high volume too, using relatively simple printing techniques.
 

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How is nanotechnology being utilised to improve solar panels?
« Reply #8 on: 01/05/2010 09:48:19 »

 

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