Thursday, 10 February 2011

Self Repairing Solar Cells?

Researchers at the University of Purdue have developed a solar cell that can repair itself.

The design exploits the unusual electrical properties of structures called single-wall carbon nanotubes, using them as "molecular wires in light harvesting cells," said Choi, whose research group is based at the Birck Nanotechnology and Bindley Bioscience centers at Purdue's Discovery Park.

Generally, the material works in much the same way as plants do. In a photochemical cell, a light absorbing dye, called "chromophore" degrades, much like the chlorophyll molecule in plant leaf cells.

The problem with normal solar cells is that they degrade over time. This new technology overcomes that problem in the same way that plants do: by continuously replacing the broken down molecules. In plants this happens approximately once every hour.

This design theoretically allows for indefinite use of a solar cell, as along as new chromophores are added.

The design works by using DNA strands and carbon nanotubes. DNA is used for its ability to sponatneously assemble in a structured way, and the carbon nanotubes are used as a backbone for the DNA to attach to.

Diagram illustrating the principle behind how electricity is generated. hv stands for light, while e- stands for electricity/electrons being produced. (Credit: http://spie.org/)


Although the process is only in research stage and still far away from being used on an industrial stage, it shows promise, as most initial hurdles have already been overcome.

31 comments:

  1. That's incredible...the things this could be used for, just wow. Great post.

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  2. This is some pretty cool technology.

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  3. Another interesting post. Thanks.

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  4. amazing. how would this benefit us though?

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  5. hmm, still it takes about 40 years so that the co2, which was produced during the production of a solar cell, is worked out by the solar cell clean energy.


    but it is exrtemly effective in space I guess ^^

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  6. I wonder what the production costs of these vs regular cells would be? If too much, it will never become mainstream, but if they're really THAT efficient I see them being popular in government and high-end business use.

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  7. wow wow really amazing inventions

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  8. I think everything at first is expensive to produce because people haven't put it in production. I for one think its a great advancement and that we'll see many incredible advancements within the next 20 years before it starts to slow down.

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  9. That's a pretty good concept, and necessary for mass solar panel making and whatnot in the future. Satellites could use this.

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  10. Interesting stuff man. Really want to see more.

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  11. amazing technology, it really is

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  12. Renewable energy production that renews itself from damage. Outstanding simply out standing bring on this future!

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  13. is this the same technology that nova featured this week?

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  14. Probably too expensive for the next 15 years

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  15. Awesome. Technology is advancing very rapidly.

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  16. nice. Cant wait till this all becomes standard and mainstream and we will all pay out the ass for using it.

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  17. Surely this will pay off in satellites powered by solar energy as they won't have to be repaired so often?

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  18. It's like I'm living in the future.

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  19. Is there any information on how quickly the current solar cells degrade? I never thought it would be such a big deal.

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  20. The future is so exciting :)

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  21. It's essentially a plug in plant! I love it!

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  22. OMG solar cells is the future!

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  23. Definitely where the world is heading nowadays!
    xx

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  24. Less replacing. Less production. Money saved. Getting greener! Solar power is definitely the future and I always wondered why it was never focused on until recently since it was discovered.

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  25. Technology never ceases to amaze me

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