Next Generation Solar Cells Could Mean Power Stations In Space - New Technology

Someday, large-scale solar power stations in space could beam electricity to the surface of the moon, the earth and other planets, decreasing our dependence on a dwindling fossil-fuel supply.

Scientists at Rochester Institute of Technology are developing the next generation of solar cells, advancing the technology that could put a solar power system into earth's orbit.

The National Science Foundation recently awarded a three-year, $200,000 grant to Ryne Raffaelle and Thomas Gennett, co-directors of RIT's NanoPower Research Laboratory, to develop nanomaterials in support of NASA's space solar power program.

The notion of space solar power, discounted as farfetched and silly after the energy crunch of the 1970s, never completely went away. Some scientists and other visionaries remained intrigued by the idea of orbiting, football-field sized "blankets" of solar cells that could generate tremendous amounts of power. NASA's program is revisiting the idea, pushing the latest technology as far as it will go.

Raffaelle and Gennett are working with scientists from the Ohio Aerospace Institute and Phoenix Innovations Inc. to develop a new-and-improved solar cell that is light, thin and highly efficient. This solar cell, a thin-film device, will sandwich tiny granules of semi-conductor material, known as Quantum dots, and carbon nanotubes.

"In order to put football-field sized arrays in space, they need to be lightweight and flexible, and able to withstand the rigors of space," Raffaelle says. "Today's technology isn't good enough, but with the theoretical possibilities offered by nanomaterials it could become a reality."

Gennett adds: "The types of solar cells that we are working to develop are a clear departure from even the most advanced crystalline solar cells used in the space industry today. If we are successful it will result in a complete paradigm shift in space solar power generation."

Posted 7th January 2003

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type
Submit
Azthena logo

AZoM.com powered by Azthena AI

Your AI Assistant finding answers from trusted AZoM content

Your AI Powered Scientific Assistant

Hi, I'm Azthena, you can trust me to find commercial scientific answers from AZoNetwork.com.

A few things you need to know before we start. Please read and accept to continue.

  • Use of “Azthena” is subject to the terms and conditions of use as set out by OpenAI.
  • Content provided on any AZoNetwork sites are subject to the site Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.
  • Large Language Models can make mistakes. Consider checking important information.

Great. Ask your question.

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.