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Solar Power Without Solar Cells?
EarthTechling ^ | 21 Apr 2011 | Caleb Denison

Posted on 04/29/2011 12:28:37 PM PDT by mandaladon

Researchers at the University of Michigan have made a scientific discovery that is intriguing all on its own but it is the breakthrough’s potential applications in solar power generation that have them excited. According to Stephen Rand, a professor at the university and author of the paper that discusses his team’s discovery in the “Journal of Applied Physics”, the researchers found a way to make an “optical battery” which harnesses the magnetic attributes in light that, until now, scientists didn’t think amounted to much of anything.

The report explains that light has both electric and magnetic components but, until now, scientists believed the magnetic field effects were weak enough that they could be ignored. Rand and his fellow researchers, however, found that at the right intensity, when light is traveling through a material that does not conduct electricity, the light field can generate magnetic effects that are 100 million times stronger than thought possible. Under these circumstances, says Rand, the magnetic fields become similar in strength to a strong electric effect. William Fisher, a doctoral student in applied physics, says that what makes this possible is “a previously undetected brand of “optical rectification.” In traditional optical rectification, light’s electric field causes positive and negative charges to be pulled apart in a material. That sets up voltage, similar to battery. Before, this effect had only been observed in crystalline materials that possessed a certain symmetry. This process works with materials such as glass, but presently requires light that surpasses the sun’s natural intensity Fisher indicated they were working on finding materials that would at lower light intensity.

(Excerpt) Read more at earthtechling.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Extended News; News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: energy; solar; solarenergy; solarpower
The research team believes that this discovery could lead to a solar cell that requires no semi-conductor. Since semi-conductors constitute a bulk of a solar cell’s processing, eliminating it represents an opportunity for a considerable reduction in costs. Fisher notes that a solar cell using this new energy harvesting technique would only require lenses to focus the light and fiber to carry it. “Glass works for both,” said Fisher, ”it’s already made in bulk, and it doesn’t require as much processing. Transparent ceramics might be even better.”...Very intriguing discovery with lots of potential.
1 posted on 04/29/2011 12:28:39 PM PDT by mandaladon
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To: mandaladon

Time for transparent aluminum....................


2 posted on 04/29/2011 12:32:41 PM PDT by Red Badger (Mitt Romney: The Harold Stassen of the 21st century........)
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To: mandaladon
Very intriguing discovery with lots of potential.

Yes, and that's probably all it will ever be, potential. Best of luck to them, though.

3 posted on 04/29/2011 12:39:04 PM PDT by Moonman62 (If gullible, uneducated and uncivilized people didn't exist, politicians would create them.)
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To: mandaladon
Solar Track
4 posted on 04/29/2011 12:45:20 PM PDT by FrankR (A people that values its privileges above its principles will soon lose both.)
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5 posted on 04/29/2011 12:57:09 PM PDT by TheOldLady
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6 posted on 04/29/2011 1:24:54 PM PDT by Rio
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To: mandaladon

Suspicion: it has become harder and harder to get gvt grants for traditional solar power so they’ve come up with something “new.”


7 posted on 04/29/2011 2:18:28 PM PDT by upchuck (Think you know hardship? Wait till the dollar is no longer the world's reserve currency.)
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To: mandaladon

If this turns out to be viable, the left will find a reason to oppose it!


8 posted on 04/29/2011 3:00:54 PM PDT by Da Bilge Troll (Defeatism is not a winning strategy!)
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To: Da Bilge Troll

I’m sensing a real potential for light pollution associated with this device. Smirk...


9 posted on 04/29/2011 3:33:07 PM PDT by DoughtyOne (The only thing higher than Obama's chin, is his ass facing West five times a day.)
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To: mandaladon
When I lived in Japan during the early 1960s, solar water heaters like this atop houses were already very common. Hot water segregation / transfer is powered by convection.

Now they are big business...

10 posted on 04/29/2011 3:47:07 PM PDT by TXnMA ("Allah": Satan's current alias...)
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To: mandaladon

The most ingenious solar power idea I ever saw was hatched at Los Alamos National Lab. The inventor showed that the Lunar regolith can be doped using a spray gun or plasma to create giant solar cells. Iron from Lunar soil can be used for cabling since it won’t rust in the airless environment. Then you can use a microwave array or laser to return the power to Earth.

Imagine thousands of square miles of solar cells. Even at low efficiency and large transmission losses, that’s a lot of power.

Could also be used in situ for anti-matter production.


11 posted on 04/29/2011 3:58:52 PM PDT by darth
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To: Rio; mandaladon
This has several interesing possibilities:

1) Since the magnetically reactive materials are (optically) transparent, would it be possible to "harvest" energy from the optical component of light -- after the magnetic component has been "harvested"? It would appear that would increase overall conversion efficiency...

2) using the same dichotomy, would this be a means of increasing the data bandwidth of an optical fiber, etc...?

3) Would magnetic/electrical signals imposed on the magnetically-reactive media possibly modulate the light passing through it?

~~~~~~~~~

I'd bet there are already patents on those three concepts -- if they represent real effects... (Story of my life...) ;-(

12 posted on 04/29/2011 7:17:05 PM PDT by TXnMA ("Allah": Satan's current alias...)
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To: TXnMA; Rio; mandaladon
3D (essentually layered-density like high-capacity DVDs or magnetic disks) solar cells get much higher input/output efficiency.

Nano-Manhattan: 3D Solar Cells Boost Efficiency While Reducing Size, Weight and Complexity of Photovoltaic Arrays - Georgia Tech Research Institute, Research News, 2007 April 11


13 posted on 05/17/2011 9:22:27 AM PDT by CutePuppy (If you don't ask the right questions you may not get the right answers)
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