Record Conversion Efficiency for Plastic Solar Cells

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Megan Fellman, reporting for Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, explains a possible breakthrough in obtaining power conversion efficiency for polymer (plastic) solar cells  close to those for more expensive silicon cells. Fellman lists the benefits of the plastic cells: “Among the various photovoltaic technologies, polymer (plastic) solar cells offer unique attractions and opportunities. These solar cells contain Earth-abundant and environmentally benign materials, can be made flexible and lightweight, and can be fabricated using roll-to-roll technologies similar to how newspapers are printed. But the challenge has been improving the cells’ power-conversion efficiency.” Faculty members and students led by Professor Tobin J. Marks designed and synthesized new polymer semiconductors, “and reports the realization of polymer solar cells with fill factors of 80 percent – …

More Heat Than Light – But Energetic, Nevertheless

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Mars Curiosity Rover is bigger than one would expect, over six feet tall and weighing 1,982 pounds. It travels up to 660 feet per day on its multiple wheels, looking for rocks to analyze with its ChemCam. Powered by the heat from its plutonium reactor, Curiosity will rove Mars for two years if all goes well. The heat is converted to electricity (which then drives the wheel motors on the rover) by a lead telluride thermoelectric material, a semiconductor which, capable as it is, has been eclipsed in efficiency by a new form of the material developed by Northwestern University researchers. Mercouri G. Kanatzidis, the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and …