Solar Energy and Nanotechnology

There is an exciting new technology for the harnessing of solar energy in the works. It’s called nano flakes and it was discovered by Dr. Martin Aagesen who is a researcher at the University of Copenhagen. Nano flakes can increase the harnessing power of solar energy to 30 percent, whereas currently solar panels at best get 15 to 20 percent efficiency.

Why is this possible? Because Dr. Aagesen believes he has discovered the perfect crystalline structure, perfect enough to increase the gathering strength for solar panels. The problem with today’s solar panels are the relative inefficient nature of the silicon construction. Because the panels are only getting to 20 percent power at best, more surface area is required, and more real estate is necessary to gather sunlight and convert it into power. If nanotechnology can improve the silicone crystalline structure, than less is more! He believes nano flakes will be able to do that and he has formed a company entitled SunFlake to develop his products.

Fighting the battle between solar energy and other sources of power generation like coal or nuclear is that little stumbling block called economics. It just has to be efficient, efficient enough for investors to want to sink their dollars into something with a greater return. That has been the perennial problem with solar technology so far, along with a need for greater storage strength through battery technology. If the economic war can be won, and it will if the cost can come down to compete with natural gas for instance, then solar power has a very bright future (no pun intended)!

Right now the nano flakes are in the prototype phase, but Dr. Aagesen is hard at work to increase the efficiency and durability of the new panels. He is promising that the efficiency will increase because the energy will have shorter distances to travel within the cell thereby using less silicone. Sounds promising, doesn’t it? The issue is that all this hoopla got a bunch of attention back in 2007, and there hasn’t been much heard since. Maybe he wants to test the hell out of it before he puts it out into the marketplace. Who knows, but his scheme sure sounds logical.

The key is to let the market forces come into play, and as previously mentioned, that is only going to happen once the solar panel becomes competitive with other forms of energy production. But the work goes on, and so do the hopes of an awful lot of people…..