Solar Energy News

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Updated: 12 min 57 sec ago

Scientists get to the heart of fool's gold as a solar material

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 5:25pm
As the installation of photovoltaic solar cells continues to accelerate, scientists are looking for inexpensive materials beyond the traditional silicon that can efficiently convert sunlight into electricity. Theoretically, iron pyrite could do the job, but when it works at all, the conversion efficiency remains frustratingly low. Now, a research team explains why that is, in a discovery that suggests how improvements in this promising material could lead to inexpensive yet efficient solar cells.

Revolutionary solar-friendly form of silicon shines

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 12:06pm
Silicon is the second most-abundant element in the earth's crust. When purified, it takes on a diamond structure, which is essential to modern electronic devices -- carbon is to biology as silicon is to technology. Scientists have synthesized an entirely new form of silicon, one that promises even greater future applications.

New materials for more powerful solar cells

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 8:31am
Applying a thin film of metallic oxide significantly boosts the performance of solar panel cells. Researchers have developed a new class of materials comprising elements such as bismuth, iron, chromium, and oxygen. These 'multiferroic' materials absorb solar radiation and possess unique electrical and magnetic properties.

New materials yield record efficiency polymer solar cells

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 10:04am
Researchers have found that temperature-controlled aggregation in a family of new semi-conducting polymers is the key to creating highly efficient organic solar cells that can be mass produced more cheaply.

Your own energy 'island'? Microgrid could standardize small, self-sustaining electric grids

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 9:11am
When researchers talk about "islanding," or isolating, from the grid, they are discussing a fundamental benefit of microgrids -- small systems powered by renewables and energy storage devices. The benefit is that microgrids can disconnect from larger utility grids and continue to provide power locally.

Combining 'Tinkertoy' materials with solar cells for increased photovoltaic efficiency

Mon, 11/03/2014 - 9:22am
Researchers are working to develop a technique that they believe will significantly improve the efficiencies of photovoltaic materials and help make solar electricity cost-competitive with other sources of energy.

New solar power material converts 90 percent of captured light into heat

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 7:54am
A multidisciplinary engineering team developed a new nanoparticle-based material for concentrating solar power plants designed to absorb and convert to heat more than 90 percent of the sunlight it captures. The new material can also withstand temperatures greater than 700 degrees Celsius and survive many years outdoors in spite of exposure to air and humidity.

Acousto-optic tunable filter technology for balloon-borne platforms

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 8:07am
A balloon-borne acousto-optic tunable filter hyperspectral imager is ideally suited to address numerous outstanding questions in planetary science. Their spectral agility, narrowband wavelength selection, tolerance to the near-space environment, and spectral coverage would enable investigations not feasible from the ground. Example use cases include synoptic observations of clouds on Venus and the giant planets, studies of molecular emissions from cometary comae, the mapping of surface ices on small bodies, and polarimetry.

Cheaper silicon means cheaper solar cells

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 6:42am
Researchers have pioneered a new approach to manufacturing solar cells that requires less silicon and can accommodate silicon with more impurities than is currently the standard. Those changes mean that solar cells can be made much more cheaply than at present.

Researchers patent a nanofluid that improves heat conductivity

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 9:12am
Researchers have developed and patented a nanofluid improving thermal conductivity at temperatures up to 400°C without assuming an increase in costs or a remodeling of the infrastructure. This progress has important applications in sectors such as chemical, petrochemical and energy, thus becoming a useful technology in all industrial applications using heat transfer systems such as solar power plants, nuclear power plants, combined-cycle power plants and heating, among other.

Crystallography: Towards controlled dislocations

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 8:53am
Scientists have used atomic-resolution Z-contrast imaging and X-ray spectroscopy in a scanning transmission electron microscope to explore dislocations in the binary II-VI semiconductor CdTe, commercially used in thin-film photovoltaics. The results may lead to eventual improvement in the conversion efficiency of CdTe solar cells. These novel insights into atomically resolved chemical structure of dislocations have potential for understanding many more defect-based phenomena.

Balancing renewable energy costs and optimizing energy mix

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 7:04am
Increasing reliance on renewable energies is the way to achieve greater carbon dioxide emission sustainability and energy independence. As such energies are yet only available intermittently and energy cannot be stored easily, most countries aim to combine several energy sources. Scientists have now come up with an open source simulation method to calculate the actual cost of relying on a combination of electricity sources.

2014 Nobel Prize in Physics: Invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 5:17am
The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Isamu Akasaki, of Meijo University in Nagoya and Nagoya University, Japan; Hiroshi Amano, of Nagoya University, Japan; and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA "for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources."

Low-carbon energy future is clean, feasible

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:21pm
A future where electricity comes mostly from low-carbon sources is not only feasible in terms of material demand, but will significantly reduce air pollution, a study says.

Batteries included: A solar cell that stores its own power

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 4:43am
Is it a solar cell? Or a rechargeable battery? Actually, the patent-pending device is both: the world’s first solar battery. Scientists have succeeding in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device.

Blades of grass inspire advance in organic solar cells

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 12:42pm
Using a bio-mimicking analog of one of nature's most efficient light-harvesting structures, blades of grass, an international research team has taken a major step in developing long-sought polymer architecture to boost power-conversion efficiency of light to electricity for use in electronic devices.

How to make a 'perfect' solar absorber

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:32am
Researchers have developed a solar cell that can tap the sun's full radiation spectrum. The material is a two-dimensional metallic dielectric photonic crystal, and has the additional benefits of absorbing sunlight from a wide range of angles and withstanding extremely high temperatures. Perhaps most importantly, the material can also be made cheaply at large scales.

Nitrogen fingerprint in biomolecules could be from early sun

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 1:45pm
The pattern of nitrogen in biomolecules like proteins, which differ greatly from that seen in other parts of the solar system, could have been generated by the interactions of light from the early sun with nitrogen gas in the nebula, long before Earth formed.

Efficiently harvesting hydrogen fuel from Sun using Earth-abundant materials

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 12:12pm
Scientists have a new efficient way of producing hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water. By combining a pair of solar cells made with a mineral called perovskite and low cost electrodes, scientists have obtained a 12.3 percent conversion efficiency from solar energy to hydrogen, a record using Earth-abundant materials as opposed to rare metals.

World's smallest reference material is big plus for nanotechnology

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 11:28am
The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently issued Reference Material 8027, the smallest known reference material ever created for validating measurements of these human-made, ultrafine particles between 1 and 100 nanometers -- billionths of a meter -- in size.