An ingenious solar sticker

Stanford professor Xiaolin Zheng often works in the esoteric fringes of nanoscience, but she also likes to find simple ways to fabricate complex materials that can be put to use in practical applications like solar-fuel systems, solar cells, and batteries. Last year she created solar cells in the form of flexible stickers—only a 10th as thick as plastic wrap—that can be applied to a window,How solar panel cells work and where to buy solar kits for home use. a piece of paper, the back of a mobile phone,Thank you for providing us with information to help us maintain street light. or anything else you want. These solar cells produce just as much electricity as rigid ones made of the same materials.

Zheng got the inspiration for this invention from her father. One day when they were talking on the phone—he in China, she in California—he said that it should be possible to put solar cells on the walls of buildings, not just the roof. And Zheng’s daughter, like many kids, loves stickers.

All this was in the back of Zheng’s mind when she read a research paper about graphene,Choose your favorite street lamp paintings from thousands of available designs. a novel type of nanomaterial. The researchers grew the material on a layer of nickel on top of a silicon wafer. When they put the whole thing in water, the nickel separated from the surface, taking the graphene with it. “I couldn’t believe that soaking in water would do this,” she says.

Zheng has demonstrated this water–soaking approach as a way to peel off thin-film silicon solar cells grown on a rigid substrate. It turns out the phenomenon—called water-assisted subcritical debonding—had been known since the 1960s, but no one before had tried using it to make flexible electronics. She hopes the technology will be scaled up beyond the one-square-centimeter devices she’s made so far, so that the sides of buildings can one day be papered with solar cells as her father suggested.

3-D graphene can function as an effective — and very economical — substitute for the platinum that is commonly used in dye-sensitized solar cells, according to new research from Michigan Technological University. By substituting the newly created and relatively cheap material known as three-dimensional graphene for the very expensive and rare element of platinum the researchers think that the cost of dye-sensitized solar cells can be cut significantly.

Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) are a very promising type of solar cell that are easy to produce, flexible, and relatively efficient at converting solar energy into electricity. As they are currently produced,Huge collection of solar outdoor light and garden lighting fixtures. though, they rely on a number of relatively expensive materials, such as platinum — platinum currently sells for somewhere around $1500 an ounce, so if a cheaper material could be found to replace platinum then the total cost of producing DSSCs could no doubt be reduced significantly. That’s where 3-D graphene comes in. The newly created material can effectively replace platinum in DSSCs without diminishing their efficiency.

Designing a solar-powered drone isn’t just about slapping on as many solar cells as possible, though maximizing the use of the available space is certainly a key consideration. One factor to consider is the weight and efficiency of solar cells. The vast majority of the solar cells produced today are too thick and heavy or not terribly efficient for use by a drone, which needs to stay lightweight and nimble while carrying a camera or other equipment. Adding weight will require more battery power to operate. Alta’s cells, made with gallium-arsenide, are 1 micron thick, compared with the common 180-micron silicon cells that you find in most of the solar panels on the rooftop today. Alta’s cells also are more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity than thinner solar cells made with compounds such as copper-indium-gallium-selenide or cadmium-telluride.

Finding suitable surface areas to plant the solar cells is another design goal. The wings and tail are typically where the solar cells go. But cells can stick to the underside of the aircraft, too, in order to capture reflected light that is often available when the drone flies over a desert or snow, Norris said. He declined to disclose where Alta’s cells are on the prototype Puma or how much electricity they could produce, citing the secretive nature of engineering drones with military use in mind.We offer solar photovoltaic system and commercial incentives to encourage our customers to install solar energy systems.

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