100 Percent Efficiency? Great! and So What?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

A particularly brilliant and demanding manager for whom your editor used to work had a “SO WHAT?” stamp with which he would critique our technical papers and proposals.  His point in defacing our papers was not to be snide, but to force us to defend why we included certain facts – interesting though they may be in themselves. Two different and equally brilliant discoveries by University of Cambridge and University of California, Riverside researchers bring the “so what?” stamp to mind.  Even with their breakthroughs, approaching 100-percent efficient solar cells in the first instance, solar cells may not yet be a perfect fit for aircraft propulsion. Each square foot of the earth’s surface receives about 15 Watts of solar energy …

Nanowire Solar Cells Surprise and Excite

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Long-time friend of the blog, and occasional corrector of the editor’s attempts at incorporating French into the proceedings, Colin Rush sent this link to a story about photonics in the Christian Science Monitor. “Wires 1/10,000th the diameter of a human hair can absorb more of the sun’s power than previously thought possible, a new study in Nature Photonics suggests,” writes David Unger, an energy correspondent for the Monitor. Unger’s lead paragraphs pushed your editor to look up several related terms and look further into the researchers’ own writing.  “Although still years away from production, nanowire solar cells could push the conversion efficiency of the sun’s energy past the so-called Shockley-Queisser limit, which for decades has served as a fixed ceiling in solar energy research. …