Silicon-based solar cells, by far the most prevalent type of solar cell
available today, might provide clean, green energy but they are bulky, rigid and expensive to produce. Organic (carbon-based) semiconductors are seen as a promising way to enable flexible, lightweight solar cells that would also be much cheaper to produce as they could be “printed” in large plastic sheets at room temperature. New research from physicists at Rutgers University has strengthened hopes that solar cells based on organic semiconductors may one day overtake silicon solar cells in cost and performance, thereby increasing the practicality of solar-generated electricity as an alternative energy source to fossil fuels.
The size and efficiency of current photovoltaic
(PV) cells means most people would probably have to cover large areas of their rooftops with such cells to even come close to meeting all their electricity needs. Using carbon nanotubes, MIT chemical engineers have now found a way to concentrate solar energy 100 times more than a regular PV cell. Such nanotubes could form antennas that capture and focus light energy, potentially allowing much smaller and more powerful solar arrays.
Much of today's research in electronics is geared towards obtaining faster computing and higher communication speeds. Researchers at UC San Diego
are no exception, and have recently announced they have made another important step towards achieving exciton-based computation at room temperatures. Excitonics exploits the unique properties of excitons
instead of the usual electrons, and promises much faster performance by interfacing more naturally with optical communications such as fiber optics.