What's the Latest Development?
A new low-energy method of making solar cells could cut the manufacturing costs nearly in half, making them far more efficient or cheaper than conventional cells. Rather than the high-temperature gas-based process currently used by most manufacturers, the new technique "deposits coatings in a low-temperature, liquid-based process." The technology, developed at Rice University, is being commercialized by a New Jersey start up which estimates it can save $1 million annually on electricity costs using the low-temperature method.
What's the Big Idea?
The New Jersey company, Natcore Technology, is also working to incorporate nanotechnology into the solar cell industry. One of the designs for a next-generation solar panel involves depositing 'quantum dots' on silicon solar cells. "The quantum dots are designed to absorb colors that silicon doesn't, potentially doubling the efficiency of solar cells." Natcore is also working with Kodak to develop a process that coats carbon nanotubes with a solar semiconductor material to produce thin, flexible solar cells.
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