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Posts Tagged ‘silicon’

Peel-and-Stick Solar Cells Created At Stanford University

December 24th, 2012 12:59 admin View Comments

Power

cylonlover writes “Traditionally, thin-film solar cells are made with rigid glass substrates, limiting their potential applications. Flexible versions do exist, although they require special production techniques and/or materials. Now, however, scientists from Stanford University have created thin, flexible solar cells that are made from standard materials – and they can applied to just about any surface, like a sticker. The cells have been successfully applied to a variety of both flat and curved surfaces – including glass, plastic and paper – without any loss of efficiency. Not only does the new process allow for solar cells to applied to things like mobile devices, helmets, dashboards or windows, but the stickers are reportedly both lighter and less costly to make than equivalent-sized traditional photovoltaic panels. There’s also no waste involved, as the silicon/silicon dioxide wafers can be reused.”

Source: Peel-and-Stick Solar Cells Created At Stanford University

Flexible, Fiber-Optic Solar Cell Could Be Woven Into Clothing

December 7th, 2012 12:10 admin View Comments

Power

MrSeb writes “An international team of engineers, physicists, and chemists have created the first fiber-optic solar cell. These fibers are thinner than human hair, flexible, and yet they produce electricity, just like a normal solar cell. The U.S. military is already interested in weaving these threads into clothing, to provide a wearable power source for soldiers. In essence, the research team started with optical fibers made from glass — and then, using high-pressure chemical vapor deposition, injected n-, i-, and p-type silicon into the fiber, turning it into a solar cell (abstract). Functionally, these silicon-doped fiber-optic threads are identical to conventional solar cells, generating electricity from the photovoltaic effect. Whereas almost every solar cell on the market is crafted out of 2D, planar amorphous silicon on a rigid/brittle glass substrate, though, these fiber-optic solar cells have a 3D cross-section and retain the glass fiber’s intrinsic flexibility. The lead researcher, John Badding of Penn State University, says the team has already produced ‘meters-long fiber,’ and that their new technique could be used to create ‘bendable silicon solar-cell fibers of over 10 meters in length.’ From there, it’s simply a matter of weaving the thread into a fabric.”

Source: Flexible, Fiber-Optic Solar Cell Could Be Woven Into Clothing

Crushed Silicon Triples Life of Li-Ion Batteries In the Lab

November 2nd, 2012 11:24 admin View Comments

Power

derekmead writes “Batteries rule everything around us, which makes breakthroughs a big deal. A research team at Rice says they have produced a nice jump: by using a crushed silicon anode in a lithium-ion battery, they claim to have nearly tripled the energy density of current li-ion designs. Engineer Sibani Lisa Biswal and research scientist Madhuri Thakur reported in Nature’s Scientific Reports (it has yet to be published online) that by taking porous silicon and crushing it, they were able to dramatically decrease the volume required for anode material. Silicon has long been looked at as an anode material because it holds up to ten times more lithium ions than graphite, which is most commonly used commercially. But it’s previously been difficult to create a silicon anode with enough surface area to cycle reliably. Silicon also expands when it’s lithiated, making it harder to produce a dense anode material. After previously testing a porous silicon ‘sponge,’ the duo decided to try crushing the sponges to make them more compact. The result is a new battery design that holds a charge of 1,000 milliamp hours per gram through 600 tested charge cycles of two hours charging, two hours discharging. According to the team, current graphite anodes can only handle 350 mAh/g.”

Source: Crushed Silicon Triples Life of Li-Ion Batteries In the Lab

IBM Reports Carbon Nanotube Chip Breakthrough

October 29th, 2012 10:08 admin View Comments

IBM

First time accepted submitter yawaramin writes “IBM has apparently made a breakthrough in arranging carbon nanotubes into the logic gates necessary to make a chip. This should help miniaturize and speed up processors beyond what today’s silicon-based technologies are capable of. The article notes though that perfecting the carbon nanotube technology could take up the rest of this decade.”

Source: IBM Reports Carbon Nanotube Chip Breakthrough

Gold Artifact To Orbit Earth In Hope of Alien Retrieval

October 4th, 2012 10:00 admin View Comments

Data Storage

Lucas123 writes “The problem: What do you leave behind that billions of years from now, and without context, would give aliens an some kind of accurate depiction of mankind. The answer: A gold-plated silicon disc with just 100 photos. That’s the idea behind The Last Pictures project, which is scheduled to blast off in the next few months from Kazakhstan and orbit the earth for 5 billion years. The photos, etched into the silicon using a bitmap format, were chosen over a five-year process that involved interviews with artists, philosophers, and MIT scientists, who included biologists, physicists, and astronomers. To each, was posed a single question: What photos would you choose to send into outer space? The answer became an eclectic mix of images from pre-historic cave paintings to a photo of a group of people taken by a predator drone.”

Source: Gold Artifact To Orbit Earth In Hope of Alien Retrieval

Silicene Discovered: Single-layer Silicon That Could Beat Graphene To Market

April 30th, 2012 04:30 admin View Comments

Hardware

MrSeb writes “Numerous research groups around the world are reporting that they have created silicene, a one-atom-thick hexagonal mesh of silicon atoms — the silicon equivalent of graphene. You will have heard a lot about graphene, especially with regard to its truly wondrous electrical properties, but it has one rather major problem: It doesn’t have a bandgap, which makes it very hard to integrate into existing semiconductor processes. Silicene, on the other hand, is theorized to have excellent electrical properties, while still being compatible with silicon-based electronics (abstract). For now, silicene has only been observed (with a scanning tunneling electron microscope), but the next step is to grow a silicene film on an insulating substrate so that its properties can be properly investigated.”

Source: Silicene Discovered: Single-layer Silicon That Could Beat Graphene To Market

All-Optical Networks: the Last Piece of the Puzzle

April 16th, 2012 04:08 admin View Comments

Networking

Esther Schindler writes “An MIT professor explains why “simple” ideas require hard science and how a gemstone might be the key to an optical network. As the story begins: ‘For years, the dream of an all-optical network has lain somewhere between Star Wars and a paper cup and a string. Recent successful work on the creation of an optical diode is a virtual case study in both the physics and materials sciences challenges of trying to develop all-optical networks. It is also a significant step towards their final realization.’ One answer may be… garnet. Yes, the January birthstone. ‘The material that Ross and others in her field use is a synthetic, lab-grown garnet film. Similar to the natural mineral, often used as a gemstone, it is transparent in the infrared part of the spectrum. This makes synthetic garnet ideal for optical communications systems, which use the near infrared. Unlike natural garnet, it’s also magnetic. … While it works, it’s too big and too labor intensive for use as a commercial integrated chip. For that, you need to grow garnet on silicon. The challenge that Ross’s group overcame is that garnet doesn’t grow on silicon.’”

Source: All-Optical Networks: the Last Piece of the Puzzle

Pockets In Graphene Layers Allow Viewing of Liquids With an Electron Microscope

April 9th, 2012 04:09 admin View Comments

Science

slew writes “Looking at liquids with a transmission electron microscope to observe things like crystal growth has been difficult to do. This is because liquids need to be confined to a capsule to view them in a TEM (because the electrons are flying at the sample in a chamber near vaccuum pressures where liquids would evaporate or sublimate). Traditional capsules of Silicon Oxide or Silicon Nitride have been fairly opaque. A paper describes a new technique with a ‘pocket’ created between two graphene layers which can hold liquids for observation by a TEM and the graphene is apparently much more transparent than previous materials allowing a better view of the processes (like crystalization), taking place in the liquid. The BBN has a non-paywalled summary article…”

Source: Pockets In Graphene Layers Allow Viewing of Liquids With an Electron Microscope

Solar Power Is Booming — Why Do We Want To Kill It?

March 28th, 2012 03:35 admin View Comments

Power

TaeKwonDood writes with a followup to the news we discussed over the weekend about tariffs being places on Chinese solar panels. He writes, “According to Forbes, ‘Solar power is booming. Imports from China were a tepid $21 million in 2005, but in 2011 installations totaled nearly $2.7 billion. That’s a huge win. And just as advocates for solar power had hoped, a larger market drove down prices. Solar energy cost has declined by two-thirds in the last four years, meaning it will soon start to close in on fossil fuels.’ There’s just one problem: now the government wants to kill it. The article continues, ‘As the market was flooded by both silicon (from silicon producers) and thin-film panels (by Chinese manufacturers), the price for thin-film panels came crashing down – along with Solyndra’s business model. … Yet that isn’t the only instance of mismanagement. The whole clean energy program remains flawed, even at the consumer level. The people who are the most likely to be impacted by high energy prices, the poor, are the least likely to benefit from the solar rebate scheme because they lack the capital to pay for the installation.’”

Source: Solar Power Is Booming — Why Do We Want To Kill It?

Cheap Solar Panels Made With An Ion Cannon

March 13th, 2012 03:04 admin View Comments

Power

MrSeb writes Twin Creeks, a solar power startup that emerged from hiding today, has developed a way of creating photovoltaic cells that are half the price of today’s cheapest cells, and thus within reach of challenging the fossil fuel hegemony. As it stands, almost every solar panel is made by slicing a 200-micrometer-thick (0.2mm) wafer from a block of crystalline silicon. You then add some electrodes, cover it in protective glass, and leave it in a sunny area to generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect. There are two problems with this approach: Much in the same way that sawdust is produced when you slice wood, almost half of the silicon block is wasted when it’s cut into 200-micrometer slices; and second, the panels would still function just as well if they were thinner than 200 micrometers, but silicon is brittle and prone to cracking if it’s too thin. Using a hydrogen ion particle accelerator, Twin Creeks has managed to create very thin (20-micrometer), flexible photovoltaic cells that can be produced for just 40 cents per watt; around half the cost of conventional solar cells, and a price point that encroaches on standard, mostly-hydrocarbon-derived grid power.”

Source: Cheap Solar Panels Made With An Ion Cannon

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