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Thin Film

Postdoctoral researcher Yu Zhu with the graphene-based hybrid film on a flexible plastic s...

Graphene promises to revolutionize electronics but we’re still waiting for graphene-based technologies to hit the market. Rice University researchers have now created transparent, graphene-based electrodes that they say could be the “killer app” that finally puts graphene into the commercial spotlight. The graphene-based electrodes could be used to replace the increasingly expensive indium tin oxide (ITO) in touch-screen displays, photovoltaic solar cells and LED lighting.  Read More

Researchers have created a thin film flexible smartphone, known as the Paperphone (Photos:...

Researchers from the Human Media Lab at Canada's Queen's University have created a fully-functioning floppy E-Ink smartphone, which they also refer to as a paper computer. Like its thicker, rigid-bodied counterparts, the Paperphone can do things like making and receiving calls, storing e-books, and playing music. Unlike them, however, it conforms to the shape of its user's pocket or purse, and can even be operated through bending actions.  Read More

A diagram of a lithium-ion battery constructed using Braun's nanostructured bicontinuous c...

Of all the criticisms of electric vehicles, probably the most commonly-heard is that their batteries take too long to recharge – after all, limited range wouldn’t be such a big deal if the cars could be juiced up while out and about, in just a few minutes. Well, while no one is promising anything, new batteries developed at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign do indeed look like they might be a step very much in the right direction. They are said to offer all the advantages of capacitors and batteries, in one unit.  Read More

A microchannel created using the laser scribing technique (Photo: Purdue University School...

A new manufacturing method that incorporates laser technology may result in thin film solar panels that are less expensive and more efficient than anything presently on the market. Currently, a stylus is used to mechanically etch microchannels into such panels, which electrically connect the individual solar cells and allow them to form an array. Researchers from Indiana’s Purdue University, however, are developing a technique in which an ultrafast pulsing laser is used to do the etching. Not only will it hopefully be quicker and cheaper than mechanical “scribing,” but it should also produce cleaner, sharper microchannels that offer superior performance.  Read More

A miniature helicopter is powered by electricity generated by the previous SolarWindow pro...

Over the past several years, a number of companies and institutions have been developing technologies that could allow windows to double as solar panels. These have included EnSol’s metal nanoparticle-based spray-on product, RSi’s photovoltaic glass and Octillion’s NanoPower window. Last September, Maryland-based New Energy Technologies joined the party by demonstrating a 4 x 4 inch (10.2 x 10.2 cm) prototype of its SolarWindow product. This Tuesday, the company unveiled a working 12 x 12 inch (30.5 x 30.5 cm) prototype, which takes it significantly closer to becoming commercially-viable.  Read More

Honda Soltec announces smaller, more efficient thin film solar cell design

A few years back we reported on the establishment of Honda Soltec, a Honda subsidiary devoted to the development of thin-film solar technology. This week that same group announced that it would be releasing a new thin-film cell that will rank among the world's most efficient with an expected module conversion efficiency of more than 13%.  Read More

Scanning electron microscopy image and zoom of conjugated polymer (PPV) honeycomb

While rooftops are the obvious place to put solar cells to generate clean electricity for the home, we’ve seen a number of technologies aimed at expanding the potential solar collecting area to include windows using transparent solar cells. These include Octillion Corp’s NanoPower Window technology, RSi’s semi-transparent photovoltaic glass windows, and EnSol’s transparent thin film. In this latest development, U.S. scientists have fabricated a new type of self-assembling transparent thin film material that could boost the cost effectiveness and scalability of solar window production.  Read More

Schematic diagram of a thin film organic solar cell shows the top layer, a patterned, roug...

Research has already shown that at the nanoscale, chemistry is different and the same is apparently true for light, which Engineers at Stanford University say behaves differently at scales of around a nanometer. By creating solar cells thinner than the wavelengths of light the engineers say it is possible to trap the photons inside the solar cell for longer, increasing the chance they can get absorbed, thereby increasing the efficiency of the solar cell. In this way, they calculate that by properly configuring the thicknesses of several thin layers of films, an organic polymer thin film could absorb as much as 10 times more energy from sunlight than predicted by conventional theory.  Read More

The experimental setup used to measure the catalytic activity of the strontium-substituted...

Rechargeable batteries and fuel cells are seen as the two contenders to serve as a power source for the next generation of environmentally friendly vehicles. A significant barrier to achieving greater efficiency in the latter is the slow rate of oxygen production from the cathode, which limits the power output of the device. Now an unexpected find by MIT researchers regarding the behavior of incredibly thin sheets of material could lead to major improvements .  Read More

Sony's rollable OTFT-driven OLED display

The miniaturization of electronic components has seen mobile devices shrink to the point where screen size is a major limiting factor. That could be set to change with Sony announcing it has developed a super-flexible full color OLED display which can be repeatedly wrapped around a thin cylinder while still producing moving images. Could we soon see mobile phones with pencil form factors and roll out displays?  Read More

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