Low-Cost Solar Energy
Since we can’t avail the benefits and drawbacks of conventional fuels indefinitely scientists are working constantly to improve on the non conventional resources of the energy. Researchers at South Dakota State University are trying to minimize the drawbacks of solar energy. They are working on new materials which can turn solar energy into an efficient and cheaper source of electricity. This new technology uses carbon based polymers and molecules as semiconductors so it is rightly referred as “molecular electronics” or “organic electronics.” Generally inorganic material silicon is used in semiconductors.
Assistant professor Qiquan Qiao in SDSU’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science stated that so-called organic photovoltaics, or OPVs, are less expensive to produce than traditional devices for producing solar energy. Qiao and his SDSU associates are also working on organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs. Qiao wants photovoltaics to be less expensive for future use.
Sun gives out visible as well as non-visible energy. Visible sunlight includes only about 50 percent of the total solar energy. So scientists are working on capturing visible as well as non-visible spectrum of sunlight to build multi-junction polymer solar cells or photovoltaics.
The hallmark of organic photovoltaics and organic LEDs will be its low cost and flexibility. Here the research team is drawing inspiration from the inkjet printing. Qiao states, “These devices can be fabricated by inexpensive, solution-based processing techniques similar to painting or printing.” “The ease of production brings costs down, while the mechanical flexibility of the materials opens up a wide range of applications,” Qiao concluded.
Organic photovoltaics and organic LEDs are making use of thin films of semiconducting organic compounds. These compounds can soak up the photons of solar energy. Here scientists are using an organic polymer, or a long, flexible chain of carbon-based material, as a substrate on which semiconducting materials are applied as a solution. The way an inkjet printer works.