Solar energy refers to the capture of useful energy from the sun’s rays. This can be done many ways. Two of the primary ways of achieving this involve converting light directly into electrical energy (“photo-voltaics”) or simpler systems that capture the energy as heat and reduce other energy costs (“photo-thermal”). It is also possible for sunlight to cause chemical reactions and liberate chemical energy. For example, by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen (“photo-electrolysis”) the hydrogen can be used as a fuel to replace fossil fuel sources. Sunlight is also the key source of energy for plant-matter growth and this is being widely considered for biofuel creation (mostly ethanol).
in photovoltaic solar energy
collection will depend on many practical and fundamental advancements. The
solar spectrum consists of light colors (wavelengths) that are widely disparate
and difficult for a single material to collect with total efficiency. Instead,
for photovoltaic solar power we use electronic transitions in selected
semiconductors or tailored dye absorbers that will be able to promote electrons
into excited states that can then be used to push current through external
circuits. Research at
New directions include multiple absorbers that are tuned to specific wavelength ranges and new self-assembled methods for coupling their absorptions into an integrated output. New processing methods may also result in lower cost solar cells. Researchers in MSE (Materials Science and Engineering), ECE (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Chemistry, Physics, and other departments are involved in aspects of this important and fundamental work.
Background Information about Solar:
Specific Group Research Efforts:
· R. A. Bartynski, F. Zimmermann, A. B. Mann, and D. P. Birnie Collaboration: NSOM and Spectroscopic Testing of Dye/Titania Structures (work in progress - stay tuned!)