Ingenuity is a creative process yielding more than aesthetic outcomes. The ingenious create ideas that lead to social or economic benefits to society. Not all things creative are ingenious; yet all things ingenious are creative.
Technology researchers are advancing hundreds of creative ideas on new and renewable energy sources. Wind and solar resources have incredible potential, but creating and deploying the technology economically and without an electrical engineering degree has proven challenging.
On the horizon, we are beginning to see ingenious minds working to blend high-impact solar harvesting within glass, plastics, and other ubiquitous materials. This innovation may compete with the massive, weighty solar panels seen on platforms and rooftops.
Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Milano-Bicocca have designed and synthesized a new generation of quantum dots for use in solar energy systems that overcome previous inefficiencies in harvesting sunlight. The study has been published in the journal Nature Photonics.
Quantum dots, which are nanocrystals made of semiconducting materials, appeal to scientists for use in solar photovoltaics (solar panel systems) because of their versatility and low-cost. In particular, they are desirable for use in luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs), which are photon-management devices that serve as alternatives to optics-based solar concentration systems.
LSCs are constructed from transparent materials containing emitters such as quantum dots. They concentrate solar radiation absorbed from a large area onto a significantly smaller solar cell, explains Victor Kilmov, one of the authors of the study. One exciting application of LSCs is the potential to develop photovoltaic windows, which could turn buildings into energy making factories.
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