Archive for December 6th, 2013
Shreddies

Great Ball Contraption 12-5-13

On Engineering.com’s Inventions channel is a video of what could be the greatest Rube Goldberg setup ever — and it’s made out of LEGO. Does it get any better than this? Read more


12/6

Are simpler, cheaper solar cells on the way? Work being done to improve solar cell efficiency using a mineral called perovskite at Oxford University raises interesting possibilities.

According to a summary at SciTechDaily, from about 2009 to now, solar cells made from materials called perovskites “have reached efficiencies that other technologies took decades to achieve, but until recently no one quite knew why.”

Perovskite is a calcium titanium oxide mineral species composed of calcium titanate. It can be found in the Urals and Switzerland, as well as in Arkansas and some chondritic meteorites. And it’s quite inexpensive.

As Inhabitat reported in August, the substance “is said to be very efficient at absorbing light and uses less material to capture the same amount of energy when compared to conventional solar absorbers,” meaning it could result in “dirt cheap solar power.”

Perovskite, according to SciTechDaily, was first used in 2009 to produce 3 percent efficient photovoltaic cells. Since then, scientists pushed the technology to achieve efficiencies beyond 15 percent, which overtakes other emerging solar technologies.

There’s more exciting news. Researchers reported in Science that they have figured out the secret to perovskite’s success: It’s a property known as the diffusion length, and they also think they have a way to improve diffusion length by a factor of 10. Read more


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