Nanoelectronics key to advances in renewable energy

Feb 16, 2014

Nanoscale technology looks promising as a major contributor to advancements needed to fulfill the potential of emerging sources of clean, renewable energy.

Progress in the comparatively new area of in particular could be the basis for new manufacturing processes and devices to make and technologies more efficient and cost-effective.

Stephen Goodnick will focus on what nanoelectronics advances could do to help push the performance of to the next level in his talk at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Feb. 13-17 in Chicago.

His presentation will lead off a session on Feb. 16, titled "Nanoelectronics for Renewable Energy: How Nanoscale Innovations Address Global Needs."

Goodnick is a professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of Arizona State University's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Titled "Pathways to Next-Generation Photovoltaics," Goodnick's presentation will look at how innovations driven by can enable photovoltaic technology to significantly improve our ability to convert sunlight and heat into electric power.

He'll specifically delve into how new types of nanostructure-based devices can make it possible to produce that achieve better energy-conversion efficiency.

Goodnick explains that the key is in the different characteristics, properties and behavior of materials at the nanoscale.

A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter (one meter is a little more the 39 inches long). About 100,000 nanometers amount to the same thickness as a typical sheet of paper.

At that tiny scale, silicon and other materials that are used to make solar cells can perform in ways that boost the effectiveness of devices for producing energy, Goodnick says.

"With the use of nanoparticles, made into nanostructures, we could, for instance, improve optical collection, enabling systems to trap more light for conversion into electrical power," he says.

"Using nanomaterials, we could make even thinner but still more efficient, and we could increase the capacity of energy-storage devices," he says.

Such progress will hinge on the success of science and engineering research in overcoming current high production costs and some technical challenges. But Goodnick says he's confident nanotechnology advances "are going to be big factors in the future of energy."

Goodnick's talk is part of an AAAS conference session that will also feature additional presentations on aspects of nanoelectronics and by four other scientists and engineers who will join Goodnick in a research collaboration beginning in July at the Institute for Advanced Study at the Technical University Munich in Germany.

Goodnick has been awarded the German university's Hans Fischer Senior Fellowship, which will enable him to spend six months conducting research at the institute this year. The fellowship award is given to engineers and scientists doing innovative work in areas of interest to the institute.

Explore further: 3-D images of tiny objects down to 25 nanometres

Related Stories

Solar-powered partnership

Mar 31, 2010

Arizona State University has established a partnership with the University of Tokyo, Japan, aimed at strengthening research and educational endeavors at both institutions to advance solar energy technology.

The state of solar

Mar 15, 2011

Arizona has more sunny days per year than any other state in the U.S. Phoenix residents enjoy more than 300 sun-filled days per year, according to the city’s official website. Given this seemingly endless supply of sunlight, ...

New technology to enable development of 4G solar cells

Jul 29, 2013

Professor Ravi Silva of the University of Surrey's Advanced Technology Institute has identified the range of combinations of organic and inorganic materials that will underpin new 4th generation solar cell technology – ...

Recommended for you

3-D images of tiny objects down to 25 nanometres

Mar 30, 2015

Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute and ETH Zurich (Switzerland) have created 3D images of tiny objects showing details down to 25 nanometres. In addition to the shape, the scientists determined how ...

Solving molybdenum disulfide's 'thin' problem

Mar 27, 2015

The promising new material molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) has an inherent issue that's steeped in irony. The material's greatest asset—its monolayer thickness—is also its biggest challenge.

Snowflakes become square with a little help from graphene

Mar 25, 2015

The breakthrough findings, reported in the journal Nature, allow better understanding of the counterintuitive behaviour of water at the molecular scale and are important for development of more efficient techno ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.