Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tiny Towers: Carbon Nanotube Structures Could Provide More Efficient Solar Power For Soldiers

Date:
March 24, 2005
Source:
Georgia Institute Of Technology
Summary:
When residents of New York’s Manhattan Island ran out of real estate for new construction, they expanded vertically – using multi-story buildings to get more living space on their compact island. Scientists at the Georgia Tech Research Institute hope to follow their example, but on a nanometer scale – building carbon nanotube towers atop photovoltaic cells to extract more power from the sun.

Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) scientists have demonstrated an ability to precisely grow "towers" composed of carbon nanotubes atop silicon wafers. The work could be the basis for more efficient solar power for soldiers in the field.
Credit: Image courtesy Jud Ready

When residents of New York’s Manhattan Island ran out of real estate for new construction, they expanded vertically – using multi-story buildings to get more living space on their compact island.

Scientists at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) hope to follow their example, but on a nanometer scale – building carbon nanotube towers atop photovoltaic cells to extract more power from the sun.

The nanometer-scale scale towers, which would be coated by the special p-type and n-type semiconductor (p/n) junction materials used to generate electrical current, would increase the surface area available to produce electricity.

Reflections off the Gothamesque towers would provide more opportunity for each photon of sunlight to interact with the p/n junction of the cell. That would increase the power output from PV cells of a given size, or allow cells to be made smaller while producing the same amount of power.

For soldiers operating in the field, especially in desert areas that receive lots of sunlight, the new “solar tube” cells could provide an alternate power source for the growing number of electronic devices they use. Without the need for trucking in fuel, compact PV cells could directly power certain applications or be used to recharge batteries in soldiers’ equipment.

“You will typically get low voltages from the sun, but it generates a steady state supply -- like a fuel cell – but without the need for a consumable fuel,” explained Jud Ready, a research engineer in GTRI's Electro-Optics, Environment and Materials Laboratory (EOEML) who is the project’s principal investigator. “It would certainly be viable for recharging and for supplying power to a base where people are stationed long-term. This could have significant benefits from a supply logistics standpoint.”

The three-dimensional cells could also be useful in space applications, where power is in constant demand and launch weight is critical. Ultimately, they also could be used in developing nations where low-cost electrical power is vital to expanding economies.

The researchers have already developed techniques for precisely growing carbon nanotube bundles atop silicon wafers that have been treated with catalysts to produce geometries that resemble three-dimensional nano-models of Manhattan.

The next step will be to work with collaborators at GTRI and the Georgia Tech Schools of Materials Science and Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering to apply the n-type and p-type coatings whose junction produces current.

Because their cells will be more efficient, Ready believes they can use older and more mature p/n-type material technologies and less costly silicon wafers to hold down costs and rapidly advance the project into products that can be used in the field.

Challenges ahead include materials compatibility and long-term durability issues. Ultimately, the carbon nanotubes – which are themselves semiconducting at times – could be integrated to replace one or more of the p/n-type layers.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia Institute Of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Georgia Institute Of Technology. "Tiny Towers: Carbon Nanotube Structures Could Provide More Efficient Solar Power For Soldiers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050323144037.htm>.
Georgia Institute Of Technology. (2005, March 24). Tiny Towers: Carbon Nanotube Structures Could Provide More Efficient Solar Power For Soldiers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050323144037.htm
Georgia Institute Of Technology. "Tiny Towers: Carbon Nanotube Structures Could Provide More Efficient Solar Power For Soldiers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050323144037.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins