Solar power is considered one of the better renewable energy platforms. Enough sunlight hits our planet each day to meet our world wide energy needs for an entire year. On top of this, solar energy is a free power source, since nobody can corner the market on the sun. Solar power is also good for the environment since it produces none of the emissions that are of such concern today, specifically carbon dioxide greenhouse gases.
If solar is so great, why don't we see more practical applications? The problem lies in the applications. Specifically, we have no way to harness the power. Commercial solar cells are very inefficient. Current models on the market only convert about 8 to 13 percent of the sunlight hitting them. This inefficiency makes the cost of producing energy via solar platforms too costly. So, what can we do?
Nanotechnology is a new scientific field with many applications. Although the media has hyped the technology as the answer to a wide variety of miracle cures, most scientists and companies are looking to more practical applications. One such application is improving the efficiency in solar cells.
Nanotechnology has already shown huge breakthroughs in the solar field. In certain studies, the use of nano applications has improved the conversion rate of solar cells to an incredible 65 percent, a slight increase over the current 8 to 13 percent rate. Although none of the applications are currently refined enough to be turned into commercial products, they are getting close. Let's take a look at a one of the approaches.
Quantum dots have the potential to change the world. They are a form of solar cell that is completely beyond anything you might imagine. Traditional solar cells produce electricity in a unique way. When the sunlight hits material in the cell, the material kicks of an electron and the charge is the electricity. Quantum dots work the same way, but they produce three electrons for every photon of sunlight that hits the dots. The dots also catch more spectrums of the sunlight waves, thus increasing conversion efficiency to as high as 65 percent, a stunning figure.
The really interesting thing about quantum dots is they do not require big, bulk solar panels to work. Researchers are combing the dots with liquid polymers. In practical terms, this means they can be sprayed onto any surface. This literally means that anything painted can act as a solar cell. Think about that. In the near future, you will be able to go solar by just repainting your house. Hybrid cars will be revolutionized, so will your mobile phone. On a cold day, you can put on a coat and gloves that are heated by the solar cells imbedded in their surfaces. The scope of this breakthrough is as breathless as it is unlimited.
Let's face it. We need to make changes to the way we produce energy. It appears as though nanotechnology may convert solar power from an iffy solution to a definite one.