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Old Posted Aug 5, 2010, 2:44 AM
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Solar Power Could Soon Compete with Oil


Aug 4, 2010

Read More: http://spacefellowship.com/news/art2...-with-oil.html

Quote:
Unlike photovoltaic technology currently used in solar panels – which becomes less efficient as the temperature rises – the new process excels at higher temperatures. Called “photon enhanced thermionic emission,” or PETE, the process promises to surpass the efficiency of existing photovoltaic and thermal conversion technologies. “This is really a conceptual breakthrough, a new energy conversion process, not just a new material or a slightly different tweak,” said Nick Melosh, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, who led the research group. “It is actually something fundamentally different about how you can harvest energy.”

And the materials needed to build a device to make the process work are cheap and easily available, meaning the power that comes from it will be affordable. Melosh is senior author of a paper describing the tests the researchers conducted. It was published online Aug. 1 in Nature Materials. “Just demonstrating that the process worked was a big deal,” Melosh said. “And we showed this physical mechanism does exist; it works as advertised.” Most photovoltaic cells, such as those used in rooftop solar panels, use the semiconducting material silicon to convert the energy from photons of light to electricity. But the cells can only use a portion of the light spectrum, with the rest just generating heat.


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