Plastics - Nano-Kunststoffe
plastic solar cells a boost
researches new power supply solutions for BP Solar
at Rochester Institute of Technology's NanoPower Research
Laboratories have received a boost in their search for
new power supply solutions. Funding from BP Solar will
support their work using nanotechnology.
BP Solar, a leading manufacturer of solar-electric products,
has contracted RIT's NanoPower Research Laboratories
to develop plastic solar cells using nanomaterials.
Total funding for the three-year program is $250,000.
Until now, lightweight plastic solar cells have remained
elusive. During the last decade, scientists struggled
to substitute polymers for the expensive, but effective
crystalline materials such as silicon, a traditional
solar cell material. These attempts produced solar cells
with poor efficiencies at converting light into electricity.
RIT researchers, led by Ryne Raffaelle, professor of
physics and microsystems engineering and director of
the NanoPower Research Laboratories, hope to develop
an improved polymer solar cell using nanomaterial additives.
Raffaelle and his team will use a thin polymer film
that can be rolled out in sheets. The film will contain
nanoscale pieces of semiconductor material and single-walled
carbon nanotubes to maximize energy conversion.
This will enable huge sheets of thin film to be cut
up and used, Raffaelle says, even bent. In contrast,
crystalline silicon, which has to be grown, is expensive
and easily cracked due to its crystalline nature.
"Nanotechnology, and more specifically nanomaterials,
may provide breakthroughs in the way we convert and
use readily available energy sources," Raffaelle
New York state Sen. Hilary Clinton, a proponent of nanotechnology
research, made the initial introduction of BP Solar
to RIT following a visit to the university's NanoPower
"Nanotechnology research and development is important
to the economic future of New York and the nation,"
Clinton says. "I am proud that research institutions
like RIT are already playing a leading role in the development
of nanotechnology and am pleased that BP Solar recognizes
the true quality of that research. This is yet another
great example of what we can achieve when we combine
the power of New York's world-class educational institutions
with leaders in industry and business. I look forward
to seeing the results of this great partnership."
RIT established the NanoPower Research Laboratories
in 2001 as a series of four laboratories specializing
in power devices and nanomaterials. In addition to a
staff of research scientists, 15 undergraduate and graduate
students work in the labs, gaining hands-on experience
in cutting-edge technical research.
Note: To talk to Ryne Raffaelle, please contact Susan
Gawlowicz at 585-475-5061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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