Solar Energy News

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Updated: 22 hours 31 min ago

Fracking's environmental impacts scrutinized

Sun, 09/21/2014 - 8:29am
Greenhouse gas emissions from the production and use of shale gas would be comparable to conventional natural gas, but the controversial energy source actually fared better than renewables on some environmental impacts, according to new research.

Solar-cell efficiency improved with new polymer devices

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 1:28pm
New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers. Researchers identified a new polymer -- a type of large molecule that forms plastics and other familiar materials -- which improved the efficiency of solar cells. The group also determined the method by which the polymer improved the cells' efficiency. The polymer allowed electrical charges to move more easily throughout the cell, boosting the production of electricity -- a mechanism never before demonstrated in such devices.

Superabsorbing ring could make light work of snaps, be ultimate camera pixel

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 9:08am
A quantum effect in which excited atoms team up to emit an enhanced pulse of light can be turned on its head to create 'superabsorbing' systems that could make the 'ultimate camera pixel'.

A more efficient, lightweight and low-cost organic solar cell: Researchers broke the 'electrode barrier'

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 1:14pm
For decades, polymer scientists and synthetic chemists working to improve the power conversion efficiency of organic solar cells were hampered by the inherent drawbacks of commonly used metal electrodes, including their instability and susceptibility to oxidation. Now for the first time, researchers have developed a more efficient, easily processable and lightweight solar cell that can use virtually any metal for the electrode, effectively breaking the 'electrode barrier.'

X-ray imaging paves way for novel solar cell production

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 10:33am
The sharp X-ray vision of DESY's research light source PETRA III paves the way for a new technique to produce cheap, flexible and versatile double solar cells. The method can reliably produce efficient tandem plastic solar cells of many meters in length.

Sun-powered desalination for villages in India

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 8:37am
Around the world, there is more salty groundwater than fresh, drinkable groundwater. For example, 60 percent of India is underlain by salty water -- and much of that area is not served by an electric grid that could run conventional reverse-osmosis desalination plants. Sun-powered desalination could deliver clean water for off-grid villages.

Doped graphene nanoribbons with potential

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 7:33am
Graphene possesses many outstanding properties: it conducts heat and electricity, it is transparent, harder than diamond and extremely strong. But in order to use it to construct electronic switches, a material must not only be an outstanding conductor, it should also be switchable between ”on” and ”off” states. This requires the presence of a so-called bandgap, which enables semiconductors to be in an insulating state. The problem, however, is that the bandgap in graphene is extremely small. Empa researchers from the ”nanotech@surfaces” laboratory thus developed a method some time ago to synthesize a form of graphene with larger bandgaps by allowing ultra-narrow graphene nanoribbons to ”grow” via molecular self-assembly.

Breakthrough for carbon nanotube solar cells: Twice as efficient as current models

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 9:58am
Lighter, more flexible, and cheaper than conventional solar-cell materials, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have long shown promise for photovoltaics. But research stalled when CNTs proved to be inefficient, converting far less sunlight into power than other methods. Scientists have now developed a carbon nanotube solar cell that is twice as efficient as its predecessors.

Wind energy cuts the electricity bill

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 9:56am
The promoting of renewable energy is at the heart of the current debate on energy policy. From an economic perspective, the question focuses on determining the cost of the feed-in tariff systems. A new study tackles this question empirically, and concludes that wind energy continues to produce greater savings than what its incentives amount to, while photovoltaic solar technologies are still in the development phase.

Future solar panels: Cheaper, more efficient

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 8:32am
Conventional photovoltaic technology uses large, heavy, opaque, dark silicon panels, but this could soon change. Researchers are working on new materials to produce solar panels in order to come up with alternatives to the current panels. What is needed to improve the functioning of cells with a large surface are materials that cost less to produce and offer greater energy efficiency.

Detecting neutrinos, physicists look into the heart of the sun

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 12:16pm
Using one of the most sensitive neutrino detectors on the planet, physicists have directly detected neutrinos created by the 'keystone' proton-proton fusion process going on at the sun's core for the first time.

Competition for graphene: Researchers demonstrate ultrafast charge transfer in new family of 2-D semiconductors

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 1:25pm
The first experimental observation of ultrafast charge transfer in photo-excited MX2 materials, the graphene-like two-dimensional semiconductors, has been conducted. Charge transfer time clocked in at under 50 femtoseconds, comparable to the fastest times recorded for organic photovoltaics.

A semi-artificial leaf faster than 'natural' photosynthesis

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 8:16am
Cooperation between chemists and biologists has resulted in a new method for the very efficient integration of photosynthetic proteins in photovoltaics. Their research offers a new immobilization strategy that yields electron transfer rates exceeding for the first time rates observed in natural photosynthesis. This discovery opens the possibility for the construction of semi-artificial leaves functioning as photovoltaic devices with drastically increased performance.

Solar energy that doesn't block the view

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 7:02pm
Researchers have developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a flat, clear surface.

Organic photovoltaic cells of the future: Using charge formation efficiency to screen materials for future devices

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 10:29am
Organic photovoltaic cells -- a type of solar cell that uses polymeric materials to capture sunlight -- show tremendous promise as energy conversion devices, thanks to key attributes such as flexibility and low-cost production, but have complex power conversion processes. To maneuver around this problem, researchers have developed a method to determine the absolute value of the charge formation efficiency. The secret of their method is the combination of two types of spectroscopy.

Recycling old car batteries into solar cells: Environmental twofer could recycle lead batteries to make solar cells

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 10:34am
This could be a classic win-win solution: A system proposed by researchers recycles materials from discarded car batteries -- a potential source of lead pollution -- into new, long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions-free power.

Insights into a new class of semiconducting materials

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 3:35pm
A new paper describes investigations of the fundamental optical properties of a new class of semiconducting materials known as organic-inorganic 'hybrid' perovskites.

Making eco-friendly 'pre-fab nanoparticles': Versatile, water-soluble nano-modules

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 3:33pm
Materials chemists, polymer scientists and device physicists have reported on a breakthrough technique for controlling assembly of nanoparticles over multiple length scales that may allow cheaper, ecologically friendly manufacture of organic photovoltaics and other electronic devices.

Simulation models optimize water power

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 8:47am
The Columbia River basin in the Pacific Northwest offers great potential for water power; hydroelectric power stations there generate over 20,000 megawatts already. Now a simulation model will help optimize the operation of the extensive dam system.

LEDs made from 'wonder material' perovskite

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 12:21pm
Colourful LEDs made from a material known as perovskite could lead to LED displays which are both cheaper and easier to manufacture in future. A hybrid form of perovskite -- the same type of material which has recently been found to make highly efficient solar cells that could one day replace silicon -- has been used to make low-cost, easily manufactured LEDs, potentially opening up a wide range of commercial applications in future, such as flexible color displays.