Nanomaterial turns radiation directly into electricity; More-Powerful Solar Cell
Date: Saturday, March 29, 2008 @ 22:01:56 GMT
Topic: Devices

by Phil McKenna/ news service

Materials that directly convert radiation into electricity could produce a new era of spacecraft and even Earth-based vehicles powered by high-powered nuclear batteries, say US researchers.

Electricity is usually made using nuclear power by heating steam to rotate turbines that generate electricity.

Rest Here: Nanomaterial turns radiation directly into electricity


More-Powerful Solar Cells

A new solar cell is 27 percent more efficient without being more expensive to make.By Kevin Bullis

Capturing light: Ordinarily, the flat wires on the surface of solar cells that are used to collect electrical current prevent light from reaching the active material in a cell, reducing efficiency. A new design traps much of the light that would have been reflected. In the picture, some of the red light from a laser is redirected from the wire to areas on the cell where the light can be absorbed. The new approach dramatically helps improve the performance of solar cells without increasing costs. /Credit: 1366 Technologies

An MIT researcher has found a way to significantly improve the efficiently of an important type of silicon solar cells while keeping costs about the same. The technology is being commercialized by a startup in Lexington, MA, called 1366 Technologies, which today announced its first round of funding. Venture capitalists invested $12.4 million in the company.

1366 Technologies claims that it improves the efficiency--a measure of the electricity generated from a given amount of light--of multicrystalline silicon solar cells by 27 percent compared with conventional ones. The company's efficiency and cost claims are based on results from small solar cells (about two centimeters across) made in the lab of Emanuel Sachs, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, who is one of the company's founders. 1366 Technologies is building a pilot-scale manufacturing plant that will make full-sized solar cells (about 15 centimeters across). Within a year, the company will decide whether its pilot-plant results justify building a factory for commercial production, Sachs says...


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