very high efficiency cheap solar

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Old Rocks, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. Old Rocks

    Old Rocks Diamond Member

    Oct 31, 2008
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    Portland, Ore.
    The high cost of solar is the chief obstacle to photovoltaic solar being a major player in the production of electricity. A secondary factor is that cheaper thin film panels are about 1/2 as efficient as the silicon cells, so take up a lot more space for the same amount of energy. There have been other technologies in development, but most have been extremely expensive, requiring at least a drop in price of material of a magnitude or more. One such technology has been quantum dots. Very promising, but extroidenarly expensive. An Oregon firm, Voxtel, seems to have acheived a cost reduction of several orders of magnitude, and may have changed the whole field of photovoltaics.

    The high cost of quantum dots, $5,000 per gram at the low end, has been a barrier for two decades. Dots are conventionally made by a chemist one batch at a time.

    Voxtel invented a continuous system that automatically pumps out dots in large quantities, and even works with materials more environmentally friendly than those before. Their target is around $10 per gram with the capacity to fabricate kilograms of dots per week from a single production line. It takes about a tenth of a gram to make a square foot solar panel.

    Within two years, Voxtel plans to get a full pilot manufacturing line up and running in Eugene or Corvallis. After the production process has proven its worth, they will license the technology to larger companies for high-volume production.

    The power of dots lies in their optical properties. Bulk silicon can only absorb the red component of light, but a dot can be tuned to absorb any color by changing its size. A mixture of dot sizes soaks up the entire range of colors in the solar spectrum. The dots are printed onto surfaces using inkjet technology to make very thin photovoltaic cells.

    "Our goal is to get really higher efficiency PVs, twice the efficiency of silicon" says George Williams, Voxtel's chief executive and founder.

    Beaverton firm will produce cheaper quantum dots -

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