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Nanotechnology meets solar energy

In nano on December 12, 2006 at 1:29 am

(Nanowerk News) Two of the hot-button fields of scientific study — nanotechnology and solar energy — are being combined by a team of Arizona State University researchers in an effort to find a cheap source of household energy for the nation’s future.
The team headed by Stuart Lindsey, director of the Center for Single Molecule Biophysics at the Arizona Biodesign Institute; Rudy Diaz, associate professor of electrical engineering; and chemistry professor Devens Gust, have received a $1.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to explore creation of infinitesimal nanoscale devices on the molecular level that can convert sunlight into electric current.
The idea is to try to overcome the major problem of photovoltaic solar energy — its relative inefficiency, which makes the cost of electricity produced by solar cells four times greater than electricity produced by nuclear or fossil fuels.
“If it works, there is a potential to bring the fabrication cost down to a very small amount,” Lindsey said.
That’s a big “if,” Lindsey admits. He said the idea of using nano-structures to convert sunlight into electricity is still theoretical. But the fact that the NSF is willing to fund research indicates an increasing interest in the concept by the scientific community, he said.

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