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Carbon-reducing technologies target climate change

Posted: 02 Dec 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NASA? IPCC? climate change? gasoline? solar cell?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, every hour, enough energy from the sun reaches Earth to meet the world's energy usage for an entire year. Of course it's impossible to cover the lighted half of the 198 million square miles of the Earth's surface in solar cells. Even collecting all 365 days of the year with widely distributed solar cell arrays illuminated half the day (12/7) at 20 per cent efficiency would take over 225 thousand square miles to satisfy the entire world's need for energy, a seemingly unachievable goal.

Molybdenum disulfide

Laser beam energising a monolayer semiconductor made up of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2). The red glowing dots are particles excited by the laser. This architecture could be used to make super solar panels according to its Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Labs). (SOURCE: Berkeley Lab, Image by Der-Hsien Lien)

However, that is not stopping the world's scientists from trying. One of the latest attempts comes from multi-band solar cells which attempt to fulfil at least one of the key requirements for obsoleting coal-fired power plants, solar cells that capture the entire spectrum of light from the sun instead of just a narrow band as is the case today.

For instance, Lawrence Livermore Berkeley Laboratory (Berkeley Labs) claimed to be on the way to multi-band solar cells that demonstrate a key requirement for a wider use of the solar spectrum. And Berkeley Labs is not the only one, others are following suit with tuned nanoscale antennas that capture more and more of the light coming from the sun, rain or shine.

Berkeley Lab's trick is creating a defect-free atomically thin film of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) to create ultra-high-efficiency solar cells (and bright yet transparent displays for that matter). Usually monolayers have too many defects to achieve high-efficiency, but Berkeley Labs and the University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley) have invented a way to repair defects chemically with what they call an organic super-acid.

After treating a defective monolayer with the superacid, its efficiency is improved up to 100 per cent. And since the MoS2 films are barely 0.7nm thick, the material is "optoelectronically perfect," according to principle investigator Ali Javey, at UC Berkeley, who performed the work with doctoral candidate, Matin Amani.

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