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Solar Panel Cells Receive Nanotechnology Makeover

Scientists are developing solar panel cells using nanomaterials that can make the panels thinner and more efficient.

Breakthroughs in technology at the sub-atomic scale are starting to filter through to the green energy sector. And because of the weird and wonderful things that happen in physics at the nanoscale, there is huge potential for new nanomaterials to make a huge difference.

There are already experiments in screen technology where quantum dots emit certain colors at practically 100% efficiency. Such screens would be far superior in quality to anything we have right now, and this wouldn't come at the cost of extra energy usage. 

But it gets even more interesting in the energy sector, and CleanTechnica has some interesting concepts to share. 

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“Due in part to their extremely high surface-area-to-volume ratio, nanomaterials can also act as powerful catalysts to drive many reactions. For example, layers of semiconductors that are only three atoms thick can capture sunlight to power the production of hydrogen gas or other solar fuels.”

Other types of nanomaterial could also be used to improve the amount of heat lost in other types of power plants. It’s estimated that this heat waste could be up to 60%, and harnessing all that waste could make traditional power plants an awful lot greener.

Technological progress here is happening at an incredible speed and comparable to the semiconductor changes of the 80s and 90s. That means we could be seeing some major breakthroughs very soon.


Chris is one of GreenCitizen’s writers who has been a long-time advocate of individual responsibility when it comes to the environment. He shares GreenCitizen's passion for making the world a better place every day of the year.

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