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12 yr old revolutionizes solar cells
katu.com ^ | Sep 15, 2008 | Susan Harding

Posted on 09/18/2008 10:25:13 AM PDT by pollwatcher

BEAVERTON, Ore. – A new invention could revolutionize solar energy – and it was made by a 12-year-old in Beaverton.

Despite his age, William Yuan has already studied nuclear fusion and nanotechnology, and he is on his way to solving the energy crisis.

It all started with Legos - after he learned nanotechnology to make robots take off. The seventh grader then got an idea inspired by the sun.

"Solar it seems underused, and there are only a few problems with it," Yuan said.

Encouraged by his Meadow Park Middle School science teacher, the 12-year-old developed a 3D solar cell.

"Regular solar cells are only 2D and only allow light interaction once," he said.

And his cell can absorb both visible and UV light.

"I started to realize I was actually onto something," Yuan said.

At first, he couldn't believe his calculations.

"This solar cell can't be generating this much electricity, it can't be absorbing this much extra light," he recalled thinking.

If he is right, solar panels with his 3D cells would provide 500 times more light absorption than commercially-available solar cells and nine times more than cutting-edge 3D solar cells.

"Which would make solar energy actually a viable energy source for the Pacific Northwest," Yuan said.

While college students have come up with unusual solar cars and the state of Oregon recently unveiled solar panels to power highway lights, Yuan is thinking global.

"It'll have a really positive impact on society and the environment," he said.

His next step is to get a manufacturer and market it.

Yuan is flying out to Washington D.C. on Monday to accept a $25,000 scholarship for his research. He earned the Davidson Fellow award, which is for those 18 and under.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: energy; environment; solar; solarpower
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If it's all true, a child has figured out the obvious!
1 posted on 09/18/2008 10:25:15 AM PDT by pollwatcher
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To: pollwatcher

12 years old - wow. And to think when I was his age, the most important thing was getting home from school in time to watch Spiderman.


2 posted on 09/18/2008 10:27:19 AM PDT by reagan_fanatic ("And how can this be? For I am the Kwisatz Haderach! " - Barack Obama)
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To: pollwatcher

Wow


3 posted on 09/18/2008 10:27:23 AM PDT by CPT Clay (Drill ANWR, Personal Accounts NOW ,)
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To: pollwatcher

bump for later


4 posted on 09/18/2008 10:27:51 AM PDT by Centurion2000 (McCain/Palin 2008 : Palin the Paladin 2012)
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To: pollwatcher

Cutting edge cells convert something like 20 percent of solar energy to electricity. Nine times this seems unlikely.


5 posted on 09/18/2008 10:28:08 AM PDT by js1138
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To: pollwatcher

Another “Government School” doofus so roundly condemned by some around here.


6 posted on 09/18/2008 10:29:04 AM PDT by arrogantsob (Hero vs Zero)
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To: pollwatcher
Once again, one motivated, curious individual will produce far more good for humanity than legions of government agencies.

I wish him well.

7 posted on 09/18/2008 10:30:13 AM PDT by Trailerpark Badass (Happiness is a choice!)
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To: pollwatcher

WOW! GREAT WORK, William!


8 posted on 09/18/2008 10:30:21 AM PDT by A. Morgan (VOTE FOR Obama N' we'll be up to our necks in TAXES and OUTA' GAS!)
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To: pollwatcher

9 posted on 09/18/2008 10:30:24 AM PDT by taraytarah (If your only strategy is attacking the life choices of 17-year-old females, you got nothin'.)
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To: js1138

well, the article is so vague on the science its very hard to tell what its trying to describe


10 posted on 09/18/2008 10:30:42 AM PDT by babble-on
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To: reagan_fanatic

Yep! At 12 I was more interested in which type of playing card would make the most noise on the spokes of my bike!


11 posted on 09/18/2008 10:31:27 AM PDT by Red_Devil 232 (VietVet - USMC All Ready On The Right? All Ready On The Left? All Ready On The Firing Line!)
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To: pollwatcher
This could really make an impact. If shaped into a sphere and placed on top of buildings, the lower longitude state could really save on cooling costs.
12 posted on 09/18/2008 10:31:49 AM PDT by WakeUpAndVote (Proud member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy!)
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To: Pride in the USA

Of course, I have no idea if this will work or not. But OMG, where does a kid like this come from?


13 posted on 09/18/2008 10:32:19 AM PDT by lonevoice (John McCain was a Kinoki foot pad in the Reagan Revolution)
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To: pollwatcher

If true...the Saudis are now dealing a losing hand of cards. Autos powered by solar energy and his collection cell...will put gas powered gas out of existence in fifteen years. The kid ought to be put up for the Nobel Prize.


14 posted on 09/18/2008 10:32:33 AM PDT by pepsionice
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To: pollwatcher

The sun is an object of great curiosity here in the northwest.


15 posted on 09/18/2008 10:34:14 AM PDT by Aria ("An America that could elect Sarah Palin might still save itself." Vin Suprynowicz)
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To: taraytarah

that kid is 12? is he on the chinese olympic gymnastic team as well?


16 posted on 09/18/2008 10:35:12 AM PDT by thefactor (contributing nothing of value to threads since 2001...)
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To: js1138

The problem is this. Sunlight has many different frequencies in it. Solar cells are only able to extract energy from those frequencies that can resonate with the compounds in the photovoltaic material. Many years ago, the idea of making a photovoltaic cell with many different layers, each responding to a different frequency was tried out. Apparently, it only got so far.

The kid’s 3D cell might be another way of addressing the problem of multiple frequencies. Again, the notion of a 500 fold increase seems unlikely even with a 3D design. But will be patient and wait...


17 posted on 09/18/2008 10:35:15 AM PDT by bioqubit
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To: WakeUpAndVote
This could really make an impact. If shaped into a sphere and placed on top of buildings, the lower longitude state could really save on cooling costs.

I think you meant to say "lower latitude" state.

18 posted on 09/18/2008 10:36:08 AM PDT by capt. norm (Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups.)
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To: Aria
The sun is an object of great curiosity here in the northwest.

You never know, it might reveal itself to you at some time..

19 posted on 09/18/2008 10:37:18 AM PDT by Wil H (No Accomplishments, No Experience, No Resume, No Records, No References, Nobama..)
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To: pollwatcher

If it’s all true, a child has figured out the obvious!

all those millions..billions of dollars spent on this kind of research, and they get smacked by a 12 yr. old... lmao


20 posted on 09/18/2008 10:37:33 AM PDT by Ancient Drive
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To: arrogantsob
Another “Government School” doofus so roundly condemned by some around here.

Condemned.... no child is condemned by anyone here...but if it makes you happy, Newbies posting gibberish usually are though.

21 posted on 09/18/2008 10:39:39 AM PDT by LowOiL (Tiempo de transición para las líneas de etiqueta)
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To: arrogantsob

Kindly notice that this young man is of ASIAN heritage.

My guess is that his intellectual curiosity and love of learning were instilled at HOME, long before the automatons teaching the federally mandated, dumbing down lesson plans so as not to leave behind the slowest, least interested kid in the class could destroy those traits.

That this one kid escaped the educational homogenizer is hardly exculpatory of the government schools.

IT MUST START IN THE HOME — and the smart parents KEEP their most precious possessions at home and teach them there.


22 posted on 09/18/2008 10:41:28 AM PDT by Dick Bachert
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To: reagan_fanatic

What about those of us learning to tie our shoes? What TV?


23 posted on 09/18/2008 10:43:28 AM PDT by wita
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To: bioqubit
The problem is this. Sunlight has many different frequencies in it.

Looking at definitions of efficiency, I'm pretty sure efficiency is based on the whole spectrum. I could be wrong about this.

24 posted on 09/18/2008 10:45:14 AM PDT by js1138
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To: arrogantsob
[ Another “Government School” doofus so roundly condemned by some around here. ]

O.K.... “Government School” doofus savant...

25 posted on 09/18/2008 10:45:30 AM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: pollwatcher
This is what happens when a child is taught the facts, the basics, and allowed to have raw curiosity and in fact encouraged (some naturally have more than others). Often these days all this political, cultural poo is instilled in children at the cost of teaching them basic knowledge and allowing unlimited curiosity to think as comes to them not as dictated by others of less intelligence (can you said liberals!!!!!!!!).

Excellent news!!!! Heres to foundational knowledge, curiosity, and invention!!!!

26 posted on 09/18/2008 10:45:38 AM PDT by GOP Poet
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To: js1138

especially since 9 times 20 percent is 180 percent. ;-)


27 posted on 09/18/2008 10:46:24 AM PDT by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitur)
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To: js1138

Solar cells convert only a tiny portion of solar rays to electricity because they only operate on a very narrow band of light. The 20% figure probably represents 20% conversion within the narrow band that the solar cells operate in. Now if you can widen the bandwidth then you can easily get 9 times as much energy.


28 posted on 09/18/2008 10:47:18 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (G-d is not a Republican. But Satan is definitely a Democrat.)
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To: js1138
Cutting edge cells convert something like 20 percent of solar energy to electricity. Nine times this seems unlikely.

I'm going to guess here and say that maybe the cells are capturing light that has been scattered, especially by sky and clouds.

29 posted on 09/18/2008 10:47:57 AM PDT by mc6809e
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To: arrogantsob

n00bs should probably watch their tongues here, just saying.


30 posted on 09/18/2008 10:48:35 AM PDT by aft_lizard (One animal actually eats its own brains to conserve energy, we call them liberals.)
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To: thefactor
Yuan Bio from the Davidson Scholarship site
31 posted on 09/18/2008 10:48:59 AM PDT by PapaBear3625 ("In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -- George Orwell)
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To: pollwatcher

It’s great the kid is interested in science, but this smells like cold fusion.


32 posted on 09/18/2008 10:49:39 AM PDT by Darth Hillary (Alaska Is What America Was)
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To: pepsionice
The kid ought to be put up for the Nobel Prize.

Now hold on a second there . . . we don't want this kid to get to big for his britches. He must first be vetted for his politics before being given any such thing as important as a PULITZER PRIZE! Nudge, nudge, what if his parents voted for George Bush? Or he likes McCain! No we must vet him first!! (sarc)

33 posted on 09/18/2008 10:49:40 AM PDT by GOP Poet
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To: Blood of Tyrants

I don’t have a source that addresses this question directly, but it makes no sense to calculate efficiency on a narrow band. The whole effort to improve efficiency is to widen the conversion band.


34 posted on 09/18/2008 10:51:00 AM PDT by js1138
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To: arrogantsob

arrogantsob? Is that you Barry?


35 posted on 09/18/2008 10:51:27 AM PDT by Islander7 ("Common sense and common decency are uncommon virtues among America's left.")
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To: All

I hope the kid and his parents have adequate security if this turns out to be true. The Big Oil companies along with their goons will be trying to knock down their door and terminate them...

/sarcasm


36 posted on 09/18/2008 10:51:27 AM PDT by Maringa
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To: capt. norm; tx_eggman
I think you meant to say "lower latitude" state.

Did the Germans let that stop them from bombing Pearl Harbor? Let him go, he's on a roll....
37 posted on 09/18/2008 10:52:38 AM PDT by SpinnerWebb (Islam ... If you can't join them, beat them.)
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To: pollwatcher

William Yuan, a Beaverton, Oregon 12-year boy, invented a new kind of solar cell that can absorb both visible and ultraviolet light.

I bet this kind of news makes you feel pretty weird about your own accomplishments so far. It sure made me. And, to scare you even further, I took a look at little Will's resume. Oh my, here goes.

Two years before finishing elementary school in 2007, he became a member of the First Lego League (FLL) and this determined him to delve into the research of nanotechnology and renewable energy. Since he realized the importance of the latter for the future, he focused his attention on the study and development of solar cells. Regular visits to Portland State University helped him with his project.

Besides that, he broadened his intellectual interests and began attending computer programming, biology, media design and mechanical engineering. Here are some of the institutions he "visits": FLL, Science Bowl, MESA (Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement), Signal to Noise, American Mathematics Competitions, Mathcounts, Chess, Geo-Bee, and the Discovery Education Young Scientist Challenge. Furthermore, Yuan plays chess and piano and likes to ski, while he also has a black belt (for those under 15) in Taekwondo. From 2005 up to now, he won 17 awards for most of his interests.

Regarding his project, called "A Highly-Efficient 3-Dimensional Nanotube Solar Cell for Visible and UV Light," he has recently been granted a $25.000 scholarship for research purposes. He came up with some carbon nanotubes that help overcome the boundaries of electron movements, which doubles the efficiency of light-electricity conversion. He also designed a solar tower model, as well as a piece of software that simulates and optimizes its parameters. This optimized design allows for 500 times more light absorption than the commonly available commercial solar cells and about 9 times top-notch 3D ones.

He plans to get his invention out on the market, which will depend on its cost efficiency. Given his youth, William has an entire lifetime ahead to improve on that as well.

http://news.softpedia.com/news/Little-Wonder-Boy-Discovers-New-Solar-Cell-Type-93760.shtml

38 posted on 09/18/2008 10:53:31 AM PDT by DoughtyOne (McCain, the Ipecac president... Obama the strychnine president...)
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To: pollwatcher
If this is true....all Freepers should become rich investing in the company who ultimately manufactures the cells.

You can never tell who the next Walmart, Microsoft or Google may be.......keep your eyes open and your powder dry.

39 posted on 09/18/2008 10:55:00 AM PDT by B.O. Plenty (I am not ....him!)
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To: reagan_fanatic
12 years old - wow. And to think when I was his age, the most important thing was getting home from school in time to watch Spiderman.

When I was 12 I invented a universal solvent. The problem was that there was no container to hold it!

40 posted on 09/18/2008 10:55:53 AM PDT by Ken H
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To: arrogantsob
Another “Government School” doofus so roundly condemned by some around here.

Feel free to read the article:

has already studied nuclear fusion and nanotechnology

Sounds like a typical "Govt School" kid to me...Wait, my "govt school" didn't offer fusion/nano classes until at least 9th grade...

41 posted on 09/18/2008 10:57:34 AM PDT by LearnsFromMistakes
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To: pollwatcher

Buy this kid a beer!.../s


42 posted on 09/18/2008 10:57:53 AM PDT by rrrod
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To: pollwatcher

How many billions did he need in Government funds?


43 posted on 09/18/2008 10:59:57 AM PDT by HammerOfTheDogs
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To: js1138; Blueflag
the article states that ABSORBTION could increase by a factor of 9. that is different from how much it could convert into electricity.

but then again, i have zero idea about this stuff.

44 posted on 09/18/2008 11:00:46 AM PDT by thefactor (contributing nothing of value to threads since 2001...)
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To: aft_lizard

ugh. Is this guy typing with his tongue? A lot of us won’t even use our fingers on our germy keyboards and type with the end of a pen. yuk.


45 posted on 09/18/2008 11:01:00 AM PDT by Twinkie (Who is Barack Obama?)
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To: lonevoice

My guess would be a loving two parent home.


46 posted on 09/18/2008 11:01:20 AM PDT by SengirV
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To: pollwatcher

When I was his age 3D’s was what I got on math english and spelling.


47 posted on 09/18/2008 11:03:06 AM PDT by DainBramage
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To: thefactor

The article is not clear on the concept.


48 posted on 09/18/2008 11:04:15 AM PDT by js1138
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To: bioqubit
The following is from MIT news. The article has a link to an FAQ that addresses your post.

MIT opens new 'window' on solar energy

Cost effective devices expected on market soon

Elizabeth A. Thomson, News Office
July 10, 2008

Imagine windows that not only provide a clear view and illuminate rooms, but also use sunlight to efficiently help power the building they are part of. MIT engineers report a new approach to harnessing the sun's energy that could allow just that.

The work, to be reported in the July 11 issue of Science, involves the creation of a novel "solar concentrator." "Light is collected over a large area [like a window] and gathered, or concentrated, at the edges," explains Marc A. Baldo, leader of the work and the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering.

As a result, rather than covering a roof with expensive solar cells (the semiconductor devices that transform sunlight into electricity), the cells only need to be around the edges of a flat glass panel. In addition, the focused light increases the electrical power obtained from each solar cell "by a factor of over 40," Baldo says.

Because the system is simple to manufacture, the team believes that it could be implemented within three years--even added onto existing solar-panel systems to increase their efficiency by 50 percent for minimal additional cost. That, in turn, would substantially reduce the cost of solar electricity.

In addition to Baldo, the researchers involved are Michael Currie, Jon Mapel, and Timothy Heidel, all graduate students in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Shalom Goffri, a postdoctoral associate in MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics.

"Professor Baldo's project utilizes innovative design to achieve superior solar conversion without optical tracking," says Dr. Aravinda Kini, program manager in the Office of Basic Energy Sciences in the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, a sponsor of the work. "This accomplishment demonstrates the critical importance of innovative basic research in bringing about revolutionary advances in solar energy utilization in a cost-effective manner."

Solar concentrators in use today "track the sun to generate high optical intensities, often by using large mobile mirrors that are expensive to deploy and maintain," Baldo and colleagues write in Science. Further, "solar cells at the focal point of the mirrors must be cooled, and the entire assembly wastes space around the perimeter to avoid shadowing neighboring concentrators."

The MIT solar concentrator involves a mixture of two or more dyes that is essentially painted onto a pane of glass or plastic. The dyes work together to absorb light across a range of wavelengths, which is then re-emitted at a different wavelength and transported across the pane to waiting solar cells at the edges.

In the 1970s, similar solar concentrators were developed by impregnating dyes in plastic. But the idea was abandoned because, among other things, not enough of the collected light could reach the edges of the concentrator. Much of it was lost en route.

The MIT engineers, experts in optical techniques developed for lasers and organic light-emitting diodes, realized that perhaps those same advances could be applied to solar concentrators. The result? A mixture of dyes in specific ratios, applied only to the surface of the glass, that allows some level of control over light absorption and emission. "We made it so the light can travel a much longer distance," Mapel says. "We were able to substantially reduce light transport losses, resulting in a tenfold increase in the amount of power converted by the solar cells."

This work was also supported by the National Science Foundation. Baldo is also affiliated with MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics, Microsystems Technology Laboratories, and Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies.

Mapel, Currie and Goffri are starting a company, Covalent Solar, to develop and commercialize the new technology. Earlier this year Covalent Solar won two prizes in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. The company placed first in the Energy category ($20,000) and won the Audience Judging Award ($10,000), voted on by all who attended the awards.


49 posted on 09/18/2008 11:05:27 AM PDT by AFreeBird
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To: pollwatcher

See what the average person can do if government stays out of the way and not taxing us to death?


50 posted on 09/18/2008 11:05:45 AM PDT by RC2
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