Soulskill from the fresh-from-the-daystrom-institute dept.
MrSeb writes "Twin Creeks, a solar power startup that emerged from hiding today, has developed a way of creating photovoltaic cells that are half the price of today's cheapest cells, and thus within reach of challenging the fossil fuel hegemony. As it stands, almost every solar panel is made by slicing a 200-micrometer-thick (0.2mm) wafer from a block of crystalline silicon. You then add some electrodes, cover it in protective glass, and leave it in a sunny area to generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect. There are two problems with this approach: Much in the same way that sawdust is produced when you slice wood, almost half of the silicon block is wasted when it's cut into 200-micrometer slices; and second, the panels would still function just as well if they were thinner than 200 micrometers, but silicon is brittle and prone to cracking if it's too thin. Using a hydrogen ion particle accelerator, Twin Creeks has managed to create very thin (20-micrometer), flexible photovoltaic cells that can be produced for just 40 cents per watt; around half the cost of conventional solar cells, and a price point that encroaches on standard, mostly-hydrocarbon-derived grid power."
Quantum Mechanics is a lovely introduction to Hilbert Spaces!
-- Overheard at last year's Archimedeans' Garden Party