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  • richardmitnick 12:17 pm on January 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    From SLAC Today: “Organic Semiconductor” 

    January 6, 2012
    Diane Rezendes Khirallah

    “Simply put, an organic semiconductor is an organic material whose conductivity can be switched on and off at will. This helpful property gives semiconductors a critical role in the on-off switches at the heart of digital devices.

    Many associate the word organic with pesticide-free farm products. But in chemistry, organic refers to compounds that contain the element carbon.

    Today’s most common semiconductor is silicon, which, being its own element, contains no carbon. By controlling conditions such as the percentage and type of impurities in the material and varying the amount of electrical current and the intensity of light – whether visible, infrared or X-ray – scientists can control how the semiconductor behaves.

    But while silicon crystals are durable and allow electrical current to flow rapidly, they are also rigid and expensive to produce, making large-scale implementation cost-prohibitive (for example, in a large-scale solar array).

    In contrast, organic semiconductors – typically plastics and polymers that can be produced in sheets as little as one molecule thick – offer an inexpensive, lightweight, more flexible option. But they don’t yet conduct electricity as efficiently as silicon or operate for as long, which has limited their commercial use.”

    The full article is here.

    Magnified view of organic semiconductor crystals recently grown by Stanford chemical engineers, who studied their structural properties at SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource.Image courtesy Gaurav Giri, Chemical Engineering, Stanford University

    Now, here is an example of how this research is being applied today-

    The Clean Energy Project (CEP2), at Harvard University is doing work in collaboration with research teams at SLAC.

    CEP2 is a project in Public Distributed Computing under the World Community Grid (WCG) arm of IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative. You can make a contribution to this project with the idle CPU cycles on your computer(s). WCG projects run on a small piece of software from UC Berkeley, called BOINC – the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing. Just visit the WCG web site or the BOINC web site, download and install the BOINC software. Visit the WCG web site to attach to the project. While you are at WCG, take a look at the other very worthwhile projects and attach to as many as you wish.

    Also, at the BOINC web site, you will find a whole host of other projects in the Physical Sciences, Astronomy and Cosmology, Mathematics and other areas. Again, you can attach to as many projects as you like.

    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science. i1

  • richardmitnick 4:58 pm on June 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    From SmartPlanet: “Print solar cells like newspapers” 

    SmartPlanet is sponsored by IBM Corporation.

    By Boonsri Dickinson | June 3, 2011

    “While the adaption of solar energy continues to grow, solar cells are still really expensive and largely inefficient. Solar projects require a lot of land, sometimes on the order of many square miles. So what if you could print out the solar cells, just as easily as ink is printed on a newspaper?

    That’s exactly what Argonne National Laboratory scientists have in mind. The researchers created layers of semiconductor film that can be used to produce cheaper layers to coat solar cells.

    One way to grow solar cells at low cost is to manufacture them in solution. Using quantum dots, the researchers suspended bits of semiconductors in liquid, allowing semiconductor parts to bond with inorganic molecules when heated to a moderate temperature.

    Argonne’s Dmitri Talapin said in a statement:

    ‘ We believe that we could make very competitive solar cells with these nanoparticles.’

    This ink method could fix a couple of fundamental problems in solar energy. Other researchers are incorporating nanoparticles into solar cells as well. In 2009, Idaho National Laboratory researchers developed a way to use nanoparticles in their line of photovoltaic cells, helping the cells harness much more energy than traditional cells. One company called Broadband Solar created coatings that have metallic nanoantennas – which act like radio antennas.

    The more efficient the solar cells are, the better. In fact, the amount of energy produced by solar in the United States accounts for just a fraction of all electricity generated. If you took the amount of energy the sun provides the Earth in one hour, it could power the entire globe for a year.”

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