Solar Energy News

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Updated: 14 hours 15 min ago

Taking the lead out of a promising solar cell: Environmentally friendly solar cell pushes forward the 'next big thing in photovoltaics'

Sun, 05/04/2014 - 12:32pm
Researchers have developed a solar cell with good efficiency that uses tin instead of lead perovskite as the harvester of light. The low-cost, environmentally friendly solar cell can be made easily using 'bench' chemistry -- no fancy equipment or hazardous materials. Perovskite solar cells are being touted as the 'next big thing in photovoltaics.' Lead perovskite has achieved 15 percent efficiency, and tin perovskite should be able to match -- and possibly surpass -- that.

Synthesized 'solar' jet fuel: Renewable kerosene from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide

Sat, 05/03/2014 - 5:49pm
With the first ever production of synthesized "solar" jet fuel, the EU-funded SOLAR-JET project has successfully demonstrated the entire production chain for renewable kerosene obtained directly from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide, therein potentially revolutionizing the future of aviation. This process has also the potential to produce any other type of fuel for transport applications, such as diesel, gasoline or pure hydrogen in a more sustainable way.

Cheap, environmentally-friendly method for making transparent conductive films for laptops, smartphones, solar cells

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 7:53am
Transparent conductive films are now an integral part of our everyday lives. Whether in smartphones, tablets, laptops, flat screens or (on a larger scale) in solar cells. Yet they are expensive and complex to manufacture. Now, researchers have succeeded in developing a method of producing such TCO films, as they are known, that is not only cheaper, but also simpler and more environmentally friendly.

Multilayer, microscale solar cells enable ultrahigh efficiency power generation

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 11:11am
A printing approach allows manipulation of ultrathin, small semiconductor elements that can be stacked on top of one another to yield an unusual type of solar cell capable of operating across the entire solar spectrum at exceptionally high efficiency.

Atomic switcheroo explains origins of thin-film solar cell mystery

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 2:09pm
Treating cadmium-telluride (CdTe) solar cell materials with cadmium-chloride improves their efficiency, but researchers have not fully understood why.

Copper nanowires could become basis for new solar cells

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 1:28pm
By looking at a piece of material in cross section, engineers discovered how copper sprouts grass-like nanowires that could one day be made into solar cells. The researchers worked with copper foil, a simple material similar to household aluminum foil. When most metals are heated, they form a thick metal oxide film. However, a few metals, such as copper, iron and zinc, grow grass-like structures known as nanowires, which are long, cylindrical structures a few hundred nanometers wide by many microns tall. They set out to determine how the nanowires grow.

Major advances in dye sensitized solar cells

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 11:07am
Two groups of researchers have recently advanced the field of solar cells with a cheaper and efficient replacement for platinum and better synthesis of zinc oxide. Working on dye-sensitized solar cells -- researchers in Malaysia have achieved an efficiency of 1.12%, at a fraction of the cost compared to those used by platinum devices.

Quantum simulators developed to study inaccessible physical systems

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 10:33am
Quantum simulators recreate the behavior on a microscopic scale of biological and quantum systems and even of particles moving at the speed of light. The exact knowledge of these systems will lead to applications ranging from more efficient photovoltaic cells to more specific drugs. Researchers are working on the design of several of these quantum simulators so they can study the dynamics of complex physical systems.

Like a hall of mirrors, nanostructures trap photons inside ultrathin solar cells

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 9:00am
In the quest to make sun power more competitive, researchers are designing ultrathin solar cells that cut material costs. At the same time they're keeping these thin cells efficient by sculpting their surfaces with photovoltaic nanostructures that behave like a molecular hall of mirrors.

Higher solar-cell efficiency achieved with zinc-oxide coating

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 7:45am
Researchers have achieved 14-percent efficiency in a 9-millimeter-square solar cell made of gallium arsenide. It is the highest efficiency rating for a solar cell that size and made with that material.

An abundant and inexpensive water-splitting photocatalyst with low toxicity

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 4:20pm
Researchers in Japan have discovered a new photocatalyst, Sn3O4, which facilitates the production of hydrogen fuel from water, using sunlight as an energy source.

Scientists achieve first direct observations of excitons in motion

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 8:08am
A quasiparticle called an exciton -- responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits -- has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within materials has never been directly observed. Now scientists have achieved that feat, imaging excitons' motions directly. This could enable research leading to significant advances in electronics, they say, as well as a better understanding of natural energy-transfer processes, such as photosynthesis.

Environmentally compatible organic solar cells in the future

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 8:04am
Environmentally compatible production methods for organic solar cells from novel materials are in the focus of “MatHero”. The new project aims at making organic photovoltaics competitive to their inorganic counterparts by enhancing the efficiency of organic solar cells, reducing their production costs and increasing their life-time.

Scientists come up with method of reducing solar panel glare

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 7:44am
The glare from solar farms could be a thing of the past, thanks to new research. Researchers have developed a multi-layer anti-reflection coating for glass surfaces, which reduces the sun's reflection from photovoltaic panels while at the same time improving their efficiency. It is applied using the same technology as that used for depositing anti-reflection coatings on eye glasses.

House windows that double as solar panels? Shiny quantum dots brighten future of solar cells

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 11:38am
A house window that doubles as a solar panel could be on the horizon, thanks to recent quantum-dot work. Scientists have demonstrated that superior light-emitting properties of quantum dots can be applied in solar energy by helping more efficiently harvest sunlight.

Better solar cells, better LED light and vast optical possibilities

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 9:29am
Changes at the atom level in nanowires offer vast possibilities for improvement of solar cells and LED light. Researchers have discovered that by tuning a small strain on single nanowires they can become more effective in LEDs and solar cells. 

Passive houses save lots of energy

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 8:17am
Housing is the easiest sector to change if we are to reach the climate targets, experts say. Norwegian research shows the housing sector today represents about one-third of the country's energy consumption, or about 35 terawatt hours out of a total of 112 terawatt hours. As a result, it is indirectly one of largest contributors to Norway's greenhouse gas emissions.

Win-win situation: Growing crops on photovoltaic farms

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 1:39pm
A new model for solar farms that 'co-locates' crops and solar panels could result in a harvest of valuable biofuel plants along with solar energy. This co-location approach could prove especially useful in sunny, arid regions such as the southwestern United States where water is scarce, researchers said.

Tiny step edges, big step for surface science

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 8:39am
New experiments can explain the behavior of electrons at tiny step edges on titanium oxide surfaces. This is important for solar cell technology and novel, more effective catalysts.

Future computers that are normally off

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 11:19am
Researchers have broadly envisioned the future of spin-transfer torque magnetoresistive random access memory (STT-MRAM), and they have now described how it will radically alter computer architectures and consumer electronics.