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Converting Sunlight To Cheaper Energy

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Scientists are working to convert sunlight to cheap electricity at South Dakota State University. Research scientists are working with new materials that can make devices used for converting sunlight to electricity cheaper and more efficient.

 

Assistant professor Qiquan Qiao in SDSU’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science said so-called organic photovoltaics, or OPVs, are less expensive to produce than traditional devices for harvesting solar energy.

Qiao and his SDSU colleagues also are working on organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs.

The new technology is sometimes referred to as “molecular electronics” or “organic electronics” — organic because it relies on carbon-based polymers and molecules as semiconductors rather than inorganic semiconductors such as silicon.

“Right now the challenge for photovoltaics is to make the technology less expensive,” Qiao said.

“Therefore, the objective is find new materials and novel device structures for cost-effective photovoltaic devices.

“The beauty of organic photovoltaics and organic LEDs is low cost and flexibility,” the researcher continued. “These devices can be fabricated by inexpensive, solution-based processing techniques similar to painting or printing."

“The ease of production brings costs down, while the mechanical flexibility of the materials opens up a wide range of applications,” Qiao concluded.

Organic photovoltaics and organic LEDs are made up of thin films of semiconducting organic compounds that can absorb photons of solar energy. Typically an organic polymer, or a long, flexible chain of carbon-based material, is used as a substrate on which semiconducting materials are applied as a solution using a technique similar to inkjet printing.

“The research at SDSU is focused on new materials with variable band gaps,” Qiao said.

“The band gap determines how much solar energy the photovoltaic device can absorb and convert into electricity.”

Qiao explained that visible sunlight contains only about 50 percent of the total solar energy. That means the sun is giving off just as much non-visible energy as visible energy.

“We’re working on synthesizing novel polymers with variable band gaps, including high, medium and low-band gap varieties, to absorb the full spectrum of sunlight. By this we can double the light harvesting or absorption,” Qiao said.

SDSU’s scientists plan to use the variable band gap polymers to build multi-junction polymer solar cells or photovoltaics.

These devices use multiple layers of polymer/fullerene films that are tuned to absorb different spectral regions of solar energy.

Ideally, photons that are not absorbed by the first film layer pass through to be absorbed by the following layers.

The devices can harvest photons from ultraviolet to visible to infrared in order to efficiently convert the full spectrum of solar energy to electricity.

SDSU scientists also work with organic light-emitting diodes focusing on developing novel materials and devices for full color displays.

“We are working to develop these new light-emitting and efficient, charge-transporting materials to improve the light-emitting efficiency of full color displays,” Qiao said.

Currently, LED technology is used mainly for signage displays. But in the future, as OLEDs become less expensive and more efficient, they may be used for residential lighting, for example.

The new technology will make it easy to insert lights into walls or ceilings. But instead of light bulbs, the lighting apparatus of the future may look more like a poster, Qiao said.

Qiao and his colleagues are funded in part by SDSU’s electrical engineering Ph.D. program and by National Science Foundation and South Dakota EPSCoR, the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

In addition Qiao is one of about 40 faculty members from SDSU, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and the University of South Dakota who have come together to form Photo Active Nanoscale Systems (PANS).

The primary purpose is developing photovoltaics, or devices that will directly convert light to electricity.

 

 

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Gosh, I only understood the title of the thread LOL! All the rest was sooo scientific...but if it means we get cheaper energy, then I'm all for it :yes:

 

Sue xx


"You Can Tell A Yorkshire Lass, You Just Cannot Tell Her Much "

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These people blow my mind. Personally I think there is something for everything naturally produced on earth, from this sunlight electricity thing to a cure for cancer. It's just a case of someone discovering it.

Good luck to them in South Dakota!

 

Kate


Fibrous Plasterer (dryliner) MODL 4412-11 - AQF3/Pathway E TRA sent 8/4/09 passed 6/5/09 - 175 visa lodged 2/6/09 - Medicals received 4/4/11 - Police checks uploaded 3/11 - More work evidence sent 14/6/11 - APPROVED 16/6/11

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Guest aussiewannabee
These people blow my mind. Personally I think there is something for everything naturally produced on earth, from this sunlight electricity thing to a cure for cancer. It's just a case of someone discovering it.

Good luck to them in South Dakota!

 

Kate

 

 

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Could a substance from the jasmine flower hold the key to an effective new therapy to treat cancer?

 

 

 

Prof. Eliezer Flescher of The Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University thinks so. He and his colleagues have developed an anti-cancer drug based on a decade of research into the commercial applications of the compound Jasmonate, a synthetic compound derived from the flower itself. Prof. Flescher began to research the compound about a decade ago, and with his recent development of the drug, his studies have now begun to bear meaningful fruit.

“Acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) is based on a plant stress hormone,” says Prof. Flescher. “I asked myself, ‘Could there be other plant stress hormones that have clinical efficacy?’ While various studies have suggested that aspirin can prevent cancer, especially colon cancer, I realized that there could be a chance to find a potent plant hormone that could fight cancer even better. I pinpointed jasmonate.”

A Natural Leap to the Drugstore Shelf

Both blood cancers and solid tumors seem to be responsive to the jasmonate compound, known also as methyl jasmonate. Prof. Flescher refers to it as the “jasmonate scaffold,” a basis for developing a series of chemical derivatives. In terms of bioavailability and safety, early first-in-man studies have proven successful, and Prof. Flescher is hopeful that an anti-cancer drug based on jasmonate could be on the shelf in America within four years through the activity of Sepal-Pharma which licensed his research from Ramot, the technology transfer arm of Tel Aviv University.

Normally drug development takes much longer. “The jasmonate compound is used widely in agriculture and in cosmetics,” says Prof. Flescher. “Proven to be non-toxic, it has the same regulatory status as table salt. That and the fact we are working on a natural chemical gives us a good starting point for launching a new drug.”

Optimistic Responses from Peer Researchers

Other research groups are taking notice. Since Prof. Flescher started publishing papers on jasmonate (most recently in the academic journal Oncogene), six new research groups around the world have initiated research on the subject.

Peer commentary in Oncogene is positive about Prof. Flescher’s promising research. “Methyl jasmonate,” says the commentary, “has already been shown to have selective anticancer activity in preclinical studies, and this finding may stimulate the development of a novel class of small anticancer compounds.”

Prof. Flescher’s research is the foundation of a promising new biotech company, Sepal-Pharma, where Prof. Flescher serves on the scientific advisory board. Sepal-Pharma is developing new compounds based on the Jasmonate Scaffold. Sepal-Pharma has also been actively funding research done at Prof. Flescher’s lab.

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