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Location May Stymie Wind and Solar Power Benefits

Scientific American Location May Stymie Wind and Solar Power Benefits Scientific American But the windiest and sunniest places in the United States — such as the southwestern plains and deserts — are not always the most socially and environmentally...
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A new way of harnessing photons for electricity, potential for capturing a wider spectrum of solar energy

A new way of harnessing photons for electricity, potential for capturing a wider spectrum of solar energy | Solar Energy | Scoop.it

The quest to harness a broader spectrum of sunlight's energy to produce electricity has taken a radically new turn, with the proposal of a 'solar energy funnel' that takes advantage of materials under elastic strain. "We're trying to use elastic strains to produce unprecedented properties," says Ju Li, an MIT professor. The new solar-funnel work uses precisely controlled elastic strain to govern electrons' potential in the material. The MIT team used computer modeling to determine the effects of the strain on a thin layer of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), a material that can form a film just a single molecule (about six angstroms) thick.

 

It turns out that the elastic strain, and therefore the change that is induced in electrons' potential energy, changes with their distance from the funnel's center—much like the electron in a hydrogen atom, except this "artificial atom" is much larger in size and is two-dimensional. In the future, the researchers hope to carry out laboratory experiments to confirm the effect.

Unlike graphene, another prominent thin-film material, MoS2 is a natural semiconductor: It has a crucial characteristic, known as a bandgap, that allows it to be made into solar cells or integrated circuits. But unlike silicon, now used in most solar cells, placing the film under strain in the "solar energy funnel" configuration causes its bandgap to vary across the surface, so that different parts of it respond to different colors of light.

 

In an organic solar cell, the electron-hole pair, called an exciton, moves randomly through the material after being generated by photons, limiting the capacity for energy production. "It's a diffusion process," Qian says, "and it's very inefficient."

 

But in the solar funnel, he adds, the electronic characteristics of the material "leads them to the collection site [at the film's center], which should be more efficient for charge collection."

 

The convergence of four trends, Li says, "has opened up this elastic strain engineering field recently": the development of nanostructured materials, such as carbon nanotubes and MoS2, that are capable of retaining large amounts of elastic strain indefinitely; the development of the atomic force microscope and next-generation nanomechanical instruments, which impose force in a controlled manner; electron microscopy and synchrotron facilities, needed to directly measure the elastic strain field; and electronic-structure calculation methods for predicting the effects of elastic strain on a material's physical and chemical properties.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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New Solar Energy Chips 100 Times More Efficient

New Solar Energy Chips 100 Times More Efficient | Solar Energy | Scoop.it

Scientists working at the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES) have just announced an innovation in a solar energy device that will make it 100 times more efficient than its previous design in converting sunlight and heat...


Via LeapMind
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Solar Energy Concentrating Technology

Solar Energy Concentrating Technology | Solar Energy | Scoop.it
Concentrating solar power (CSP) could unlock our clean energy future and boost solar from an intermittent contributor to a baseload generator, if we clear the regulatory, technological, and financial hurdles standing in the ...
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The Impending Solar Energy Revolution

The Impending Solar Energy Revolution | Solar Energy | Scoop.it

As production has increased the cost of solar has fallen. Since 2006, the cost of solar has dropped by 58% – 10% per year.4 Grid connected solar is on the verge of becoming competitive – without incentives – with conventional electricity.

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Solar Power to the People

Solar Power to the People | Solar Energy | Scoop.it
New York Times
Solar Power to the People
New York Times
At 9 o'clock Friday morning, some 20,000 people will start arriving at a vast field in Custer, Wis., to talk about wind power. No joke.
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Net Zero Energy Building at Solar Decathlon China 2013

Net Zero Energy Building at Solar Decathlon China 2013 | Solar Energy | Scoop.it

The Solar Decathlon China 2013 is a competition that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are Net Zero, affordable, energy-efficient and attractive.

Summer 2013 will be the first year that a team from Israel will participate in the competition, and their design incorporates passive design features, creating an improved thermal envelope to maintain a comfortable interior environment. Windows, walls, and floors collect, store, and distribute solar energy as heat in the winter and reject heat in the summer...


Since 2002, the Solar Decathlon has involved over 90 teams and influenced thousands of collegiate participants in interdisciplinary research, design and construction of energy-efficient, solar-powered houses.


Via Lauren Moss
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