Sunday, July 7, 2013

MIT's Itsy Bitsy Solar Brilliance

Is it just me, or am I rather crazy about MIT?

I mean, not only have I spoken about various MIT projects off and on, but I also have an entire post written about MIT's Open Courseware Project.

(I have to admit to slacking off on the whole Biology class taking thing, by the way...)

Anyway, as you may have guessed by now, I'm talking about MIT.  Again.

This time I blame it all on an article about solar cells that I found on Treehugger.  It's therefore not my fault that I'm raving about MIT again.  Really.  It's not.

Ok, maybe it is...

The thing is, MIT has gone and done it again.  They've gone and found yet another way to impress me.

Darn it.

So what am I so excited about?

Itsy bitsy, teeny weeny extra tiny solar cells.  Stackable.  Gorgeous.

:: cue loud cheering ::

Not interesting enough?  That's ok.  I'll take it a step further:

A group of three MIT researchers have come up with an idea for a solar panel that's only 1 nanometer thick... and stacked with solar cells. 

Let me explain that a bit more completely:  A DNA helix is 2 nanometers thick, and this is half that.

See?  I told you so!  Total awesomeness on a stick.

Stick figure holding a stick which holds a pink lollipop with the word "awesomeness" .

The team says that graphene and molybdenum disulfide are what it would be composed of.  That basically means a 1 atom thick piece of graphite (which is used to make pencil lead) and some stuff that's almost like graphite and used as a lubricant. 

That's it.

Imagine how much less space a solar panel would take up.  Imagine how light it would be.  Imagine just how much this would benefit the environment.


The efficiency of these panels isn't exactly stellar - 1-2% - but they're stackable, remember?  stack a few of these together and they can easily compete with the average solar panel. Smaller than DNA, remember?


But that's not all.  These things would be tough.  Really tough.  Just ask Jeffrey Grossman, one of the project researchers.  He says,
"An additional advantage of such materials is their long-term stability, even in open air; other solar-cell materials must be protected under heavy and expensive layers of glass. “It’s essentially stable in air, under ultraviolet light, and in moisture,” Grossman says. “It’s very robust.”" (source)
That's something that would be necessary for any power source within my Zone of Clumsiness.  Sure, you can claim that I'd never break a solar panel that's attached to my roof.  You'd say that it's protected, and I'm too short to reach it, anyway.

You'd be so wrong.

I'm a special sort of klutz.  I, therefore, need this technology.

I really, really hope they make this idea economically feasible.

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