Solar Energy News

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Updated: 14 hours 48 min ago

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.

New material allows for ultra-thin solar cells

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 5:59am
Extremely thin, semi-transparent, flexible solar cells could soon become reality. Scientists have managed to create a semiconductor structure consisting of two ultra-thin layers, which appears to be excellently suited for photovoltaic energy conversion. Several months ago, the team had already produced an ultra-thin layer of the photoactive crystal tungsten diselenide. Now, this semiconductor has successfully been combined with another layer made of molybdenum disulphide, creating a designer-material that may be used in future low-cost solar cells.

Scientists shine bright new light on how living things capture energy from the sun

Thu, 07/31/2014 - 10:10am
Scientists may have uncovered a new method of exploiting the power of sunlight by focusing on a naturally occurring combination of lipids that have been strikingly conserved throughout evolution.

Solar energy: Dyes help harvest light

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 9:40am
A new dye-sensitized solar cell absorbs a broad range of visible and infrared wavelengths. Dye-sensitized solar cells rely on dyes that absorb light to mobilize a current of electrons and are a promising source of clean energy. Scientists have now developed zinc porphyrin dyes that harvest light in both the visible and near-infrared parts of the spectrum.

Superman's solar-powered feats break a fundamental law of physics

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 8:38am
It goes without saying that Superman can accomplish some pretty spectacular feats. But according to students, the Man of Steel actually achieves the impossible--by breaking the fundamental physics law of conservation of energy.

Worldwide water shortage by 2040

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 8:31am
Water is used around the world for the production of electricity, but new research results show that there will not be enough water in the world to meet demand by 2040 if the energy and power situation does not improve before then.

Steam energy from the sun: New spongelike structure converts solar energy into steam

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 8:39pm
A new material structure generates steam by soaking up the sun. The structure -- a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam -- is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water. When sunlight hits the structure's surface, it creates a hotspot in the graphite, drawing water up through the material's pores, where it evaporates as steam. The brighter the light, the more steam is generated.

How to power California with wind, water and sun

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 1:43pm
New research outlines the path to a possible future for California in which renewable energy creates a healthier environment, generates jobs and stabilizes energy prices.

Spinach could lead to alternative energy more powerful than Popeye

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 2:20pm
Spinach gave Popeye super strength, but it also holds the promise of a different power for a group of scientists: the ability to convert sunlight into a clean, efficient alternative fuel. Physicists are using spinach to study the proteins involved in photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert the sun's energy into carbohydrates used to power cellular processes. Artificial photosynthesis could allow for the conversion of solar energy into renewable, environmentally friendly hydrogen-based fuels.

Self-cooling solar cells boost power, last longer

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 9:22am
Scientists may have overcome one of the major hurdles in developing high-efficiency, long-lasting solar cells -- keeping them cool, even in the blistering heat of the noonday sun. By adding a specially patterned layer of silica glass to the surface of ordinary solar cells, a team of researchers has found a way to let solar cells cool themselves by shepherding away unwanted thermal radiation.

Cheap, highly efficient solar cells: A new stable and cost-cutting type of perovskite solar cell

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 2:15pm
Scientists have made a very efficient perovskite solar cell that does not require a hole-conducting layer. The novel photovoltaic achieved energy conversion efficiency of 12.8 percent and was stable for over 1000 hours under full sunlight. The innovation is expected to significantly reduce the cost of these promising solar cells.

Clearing the way for extremely efficient solar cells: First ab initio method for characterizing hot carriers

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 1:20pm
Researchers have developed the first ab initio method for characterizing the properties of 'hot carriers' in semiconductors. This should help clear a major road block to the development of new, more efficient solar cells.

Deep within spinach leaves, vibrations enhance efficiency of photosynthesis

Sun, 07/13/2014 - 2:55pm
Biophysics researchers have used short pulses of light to peer into the mechanics of photosynthesis and illuminate the role that molecule vibrations play in the energy conversion process that powers life on our planet.