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Lighting the way

Published:  09 September, 2019

Nanotechnology specialist NextGen Nano has released an infographic tracking the development and history of solar power, to explain the technology’s future. Since its inception, large surface areas have been required to provide any meaningful power generation from solar, but newer technologies like NextGen’s organic solar cells are set to change this.

In a single hour, 430 quintillion joules of energy hits the Earth from the Sun. This is more power than the entire world consumes in a year. While solar power doesn’t significantly increase our carbon footprint or exacerbate global warming like burning fossil fuels does, it still only accounts for 1.7 % of global power generation.

One of the biggest challenges for scientists and energy companies is capturing the sun’s projected energy efficiently. Traditional silicon solar photovoltaic (PV) cells have been found to be brittle, expensive and inefficient, generating energy with around 15 to 17% efficiency. An approach for lowering the manufacturing costs of solar cells and improving efficiency is to use organic materials that can be processed under less demanding conditions.

“Despite being heavily subsidised, the prices of silicon-based solar panels are still not competitive with other conventional combustion techniques. So, at NextGen Nano, we have developed a technology that uses lightweight organic polymers in place of silicon,” explains Dr Franky So, inventor and chief technical officer of NextGen Nano. “These cells not only have the potential to be more efficient, they can also be used to make flexible and semi-transparent solar panels.

“Scientists have long believed that the key to high efficiencies in PVs rests in the purity of the cell’s semiconductor material. Far less expensive to manufacture than silicon-based solar cells, organic materials like conjugated polymers are easy to process. As the infographic shows, NextGen’s patented technology can be designed to fit virtually any application, from wafer thin and robust applications to power vehicles, wearables and even military hardware.”

The sun is a powerful and reliable energy source. By investing in technologies like NextGen’s polymer solar cells, we can begin harnessing the sun’s power more efficiently and at a far lower cost, across the globe.

The full infographic is available to download for free from the website

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