john simpson

New transparent thin film material for solar

Blog Post created by john simpson on Nov 8, 2010

Discovery News
"Material Could Collect Sunlight from Roof and  Windows"



You've probably heard of thin-film solar power, but  scientists from Los Alamos and Brookhaven National Laboratories made new  light-harvesting material that's actually transparent. Solar electricity from  the whole house, anyone? A team led by physical chemist Mircea Cotlet created a  transparent thin film using a relatively simple process. As James Rickman of Los  Alamos National Laboratory explained to me, it involved taking a standard  polymer -- plastic -- and spiking it with soccer-ball shaped 60-carbon-atom  spheres called fullerenes, better known as "buckyballs" after Buckminster  Fuller. Their research was just published in the journal Chemistry of  Materials. While the material design isn't Earth-shattering, Rickman  says the novelty is in the transparency. "The way that these things line up, you  get this honeycomb-shaped pattern that's like a screen from a screen door," he  says. The transparent effect is caused when micron-sized water droplets are  sprayed across a thin layer of the buckyball-plastic solution. The water and  solution naturally create a concentration of semiconducting material in the  pattern as the water evaporates.