Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Jun 07

Sun Shines on Solar Energy Future

Posted in Future Technology | Photovoltaic Cells | Solar Power

Solar Energy Future The chances of producing solar power as a more commercially viable source of alternative energy seem brighter now with the positive research results pioneered by University of Illinois professors. The Department of Energy and National Science Foundation-funded team led by Professors John Rogers, and Xiuling Li, has been exploring ways to find more optimal ways to reduce the cost of semiconductors other than silicon.

Superiority of semiconductor gallium:

The semiconductor gallium arsenide and other compound semiconductors are twice as efficient as the standard silicon semiconductor. But the prohibitively high production cost has been the stumbling block which has been circumvented by the innovative methods used by this group. To boot, their methods have been shown to be more advantageous cost-wise as well open a well of opportunities to utilize high-speed gallium or other semiconductors to make flexible thin-film electronics.

Multi-layer technique:

Instead of thin single-layer gallium arsenide deposited on small wafers, the Illinois group tried to create ‘pancake’-like stacks of 10 layers deposited at one go and peel the layers off individually, transfer them and lay them side by side. Giving all details of this procedure, Professor Rogers, the Lee J. Flory Founder Chair in Engineering Innovation & Professor of materials science and engineering and of chemistry said, “We’re creating bulk quantities of material, as opposed to just the thin single-layer manner in which it is typically grown…. “You really multiply the area coverage, and by a similar multiplier you reduce the cost, while at the same time eliminating the consumption of the wafer.”

Illinois team & research paper:

The Illinois team led by Professors John Rogers, and Xiuling Li, is planning to publish their research paper online on May 20, 2010, in the journal ‘Nature’. Along with the multi-layer technique and other details of their research, they will demonstrate three types of devices – light sensors, high-speed transistors and solar cells which will use gallium arsenide chips.

The team also includes University of Illinois post-doctoral researchers Jongseung Yoon, Sungjin Jo and Inhwa Jung; students Ik Su Chun and Hoon-Sik Kin; also Professor James Coleman of electrical and computer engineering, from Hanyang University in Seoul Ungyu Paik and Semprius Inc, scientists, Matthew Meitl and Etienne Menard.

  • Ray

    Prices headed south still? the price of commodities, particularly oil is going to keep putting the pinch on cell manufacturers. good for consumers, bad for the industry.

  • Jos Conil

    This is a great initiative which can produce a good alternative if the initial costs can be reduced.


    Our need for energy would go up if humans procreate at this pace. Restrict procreation to those who really need it. Give carbon credit to those who do not procreate- for abstaining from marriage or for undergoing sterilization. The carbon credit would be sufficient for an individual to buy himself many benefits. Liberalize societies to encourage bachelorship and spinsterhood by providing incentives such as opportunities for recreational sex and money they get in the form of carbon credit. Reduction in population would give planners some relief to deal with energy problems.

  • John Canivam

    Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we’re motivated to make change. The BP oil spill should be thought of as an opportunity for change.

    The oil companies are fighting hard to stay afloat. Drilling for oil is becoming more difficult but innovative alternatives are starting to become competitive with the oil giants so they must lower their prices to stay in business. Eventually low returns will bring the old dinosaurs to their knees, and a serious oil tax would help bring them down even faster. Are we ready for change? I think we are…

  • styke

    Peeling them off and reapplying them elsewhere sounds difficult. I doubt this will be a tenfold savings, but a twofold savings in solar right now would make it cost competitive. Sounds like they have topped that.

    (I say two fold makes it competitive based on the fact that currently, with a 50% tax credit, solar energy installations can, when properly financed, start saving from day 1. Therefore, without the tax credit, but with a 50% reduction in panel cost, we would expect the same thing)

  • Jos Conil

    Dear Sreekumar,

    Though it is a bit out of context in an alternative energy discussion, I wish to reply to your views on the rapidly increasing global population.

    It is a fact that we human beings are populating the earth like never before. But any issue has got two sides. This sort of de-population evangelisation has rendered much of the European population aged and sterile, which has got serious social concerns.

    Nature has got its own control mechanisms. This control is one of the reasons why many couples are now affected by sterility and impotency. But our mindsets are still ancient and so nobody is prepared to accept such situations as normal. So we tamper with these control mechanisms by methods like IVF etc. It is here that we need a change of outlook.

    Giving carbon credits for birth control can have disastrous social and human rights repercussions. It can open doors to a lot of evils like eugenism and discriminations against the poor and the down trodden

  • Richard Fletcher

    I agree with Mr. Conil. There’s so many potential repercussions from de-population control.


    Conil, Fletcer

    Nature’s control mechanism is cruel often as it does it by killing. We humans have already grown in population fighting nature and defeating natural forces, with our knowledge of science.

    Now nature is not able to withstand the effects of our development on its own. So we have to go for self control… self control or self destruction… only two options for us.

  • Jos Conil

    Dear Sreekumar,

    I was not referring to natural calamities as nature’s population control rather I intended to mention nature’s own ways of birth control.

    The problems of sterility, impotency etc has become common nowadays, when compared to our previous generations. While this is a consequence of our unhealthy lifestyles, it is also nature’s in – built defense mechanism to prevent our species from over breeding itself to extinction.

    In our traditional culture and social mores these are looked upon as a curse and it invariably leads to despair and pain for the couples involved.

    If instead we can reverse this way of thinking and see the inability to produce an offspring as a call for a humanitarian gesture of adopting an orphan child, this bane can be turned into a boon, for the earth as well as for humanity.

    I’m aware that this change of attitude is not a simple thing, but we can do a lot by awareness campaigns. Awareness on birth control should also include the awareness and respect for nature’s own control mechanisms.

    On the other hand, if birth control and abortion becomes economically lucrative by way of carbon credits, it will invariably lead to selective abortions and coercive sterilisations of the racially and socially down – trodden classes.

    Thus although we may spare some burden for the earth, we will be creating a society which is more cruel and discriminative than the present one.

    Will the earth which we try to save be worth living in when it is populated by a cruel society?

  • Michael Ogles

    We can emerge as world leaders in alternative energy production by properly educating and training generations W, X and Yers (no pun intended) that it is better to be productive with energy than to be consumers. That phantom power is bad and energy efficiency without pollution should be our collective goals.

  • TORI

    The share of renewable energy in overall electricity generated increased from 13-13.6% between 2001 and 2008 in the EU and from 7.7-9.1% between 2001 and 2008 in the US. This figure shows some significant growth although i believe there will be more evident substantial growth in the coming years.

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