Powering the Future

With the growing need for power, solar is humankind's best hope.


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Solar power on a molecular level.

Many technologies are under development to create energy efficiency: wafer-based cells, gallium arsenide commercial thin-film cells, and emerging thin-film technologies (perovskites, organic materials, dye-sensitized solar cells, and quantum dots).

A new company, Ubiquitous Energy, is making the world’s first transparent solar cells, which could greatly expand the reach of solar power. Their technology is an invisible film that can go on any surface and generate power, which could lead to cell phones and tablets that never run out of batteries — or skyscrapers that can use their massive banks of windows as solar panels. They could be used to make photovoltaic windows, and even in a variety of colors.

Working with scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, initial testing of cells made with these films showed conversion efficiency of over 15 percent. Solar cells based on semitransparent 80-nanometer films made using the process were shown to have higher efficiency than any other ultra-thin film.

Solar photovoltaic is being called one of the few renewable, low-carbon resources with the technological maturity to meet ever-growing global demand for electricity and its use has been growing at an incredible rate.


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