Joined: 03 Oct 2005
|Posted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 2:26 pm Post subject: Buckyballs and Polymers Used in New, Organic Solar Panel
|Imagine being able to paint a renewable energy source on the walls of your house, without having to shell out most of your life's earnings.
Well, this may no longer be in the realm of fantasy, with researchers from New Mexico State University and Wake Forest University working on an organic solar panel that is not only flexible, but can also be wrapped around structures, and comes much cheaper than the conventional ones.
Unlike traditional solar panels, which are made of silicon and are expensive and brittle like glass, organic solar cells are made of plastic, and are inexpensive.
Physicist Seamus Curran, head of the nanotechnology laboratory at NMSU, where this was developed, said that while traditional solar panels had an efficiency of three to four percent, the plastic ones had an efficiency level of 5.2 percent.
Curran said that though it was in the developmental stage, it would be available within a span of four to five years. The findings were presented made at the Santa Fe Workshop on Nano-engineered Materials and Macro-Molecular Technologies.
"We are closer to making organic solar cells that are available on the market. We need to look into alternative energy sources if the United States is to reduce its dependence on foreign sources. Our expectation is to get beyond 10 percent in the next five years. Our current mix is using polymer and carbon buckyballs (fullerenes) and good engineering from Wake Forest and unique NSOM imaging from NMSU to get to that point," he said.
New Mexico Economic Development Department Secretary Rick Homans said: "This breakthrough pushes the state of New Mexico further ahead in the development of usable solar energy, a vital national resource. It combines two of the important clusters on which the state is focused: renewable energy and micro nano systems, and underlines the strong research base of our state universities".