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Power Hardware

Next-Gen Glitter-Sized Photovoltaic Cells Unveiled 155

MikeChino writes "Sandia National Laboratories recently announced a new breed of glitter-sized solar cells made from crystalline silicon that use 100 times less material to generate the same amount of electricity as standard solar cells made from 6-inch square solar wafers. Perfect for soaking up the sun’s rays on unusual shapes and surfaces, the tiny solar cells are expected to be less expensive, more efficient, and have promising new applications in textiles, clothing, and building facade installations."
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Next-Gen Glitter-Sized Photovoltaic Cells Unveiled

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  • and I bet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pikoro ( 844299 ) <init AT init DOT sh> on Thursday December 24, 2009 @09:13AM (#30543276) Homepage Journal
    This technology will be mass produced in only 20 years.
  • When can I buy it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @09:14AM (#30543286) Journal

    Like most sensational announcements of breakthroughs in engineering on Slashdot; If I can't buy products that use it at my local hardware store or via Amazon for my iphone/laptop/electronic device, it might as well not exist.

    So what that it was invented. The REAL story would be an announcement of a product that will be SOLD. This story is just a teaser.

  • by nloop ( 665733 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @09:17AM (#30543298)
    Does anyone else notice every few months an amazing breakthrough in solar cells that will increase solar efficiency by 10^x power or lower the cost to nearly free? Meanwhile, the solar panels for useful applications are still expensive and space consuming?

    I'm [slashdot.org] kind [slashdot.org] of [slashdot.org] getting [slashdot.org] tired [slashdot.org] of [slashdot.org] it. [slashdot.org]
  • by MathFox ( 686808 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @09:23AM (#30543324)
    They say that some oil companies are heavy into alternative energy, buying start-ups and shelving their products. For them, "Never" is the answer to your question!
  • by RandomFactor ( 22447 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @09:25AM (#30543338)

    "or lower the cost to nearly free?"

    I think the term you are looking for is 'too cheap to meter' :-\

  • by StayFrosty ( 1521445 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @09:47AM (#30543430)
    I'd like to know how one would go about wiring these tiny solar cells up. It probably wouldn't be too bad on a flat surface but It doesn't seem like it would be very easy on flexible surfaces like textiles.
  • by gbutler69 ( 910166 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @09:56AM (#30543486) Homepage
    Efficiency alone is useless. You also must consider durability and cost. If something is 99.99% efficient, costs $ 1,000,000,000.00 per kW/Hr to produce and has a lifespan of 10 years, then, it's useless. If, on the other hand, it is 25% efficient, costs $ 5.00 per kW/Hr to produce, and has a life-span of 1 year, then "IT IS WICKED USEFUL!"
  • "TOP....MEN..." (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 24, 2009 @09:58AM (#30543502)

    I'd imagine that in the same warehouse with the Ark of the Covenant, the process for Cold Fusion, the Cure for Cancer, and a thousand other sources of cheap energy....a spot for this gem is being cleared.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 24, 2009 @10:14AM (#30543568)

    If you're not interested in science en technology news then /. is not the site for you.
    There are plenty other sites that do only product reviews.

  • by srothroc ( 733160 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @10:30AM (#30543680) Homepage
    It would be interesting if these "glitter cells" could be suspended in some kind of "paint" or perhaps embedded in a capacitative tile. The paint especially would have a lot of interesting uses -- cover your car, for example.
  • by Ancient_Hacker ( 751168 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @10:55AM (#30543880)

    I'm awfully tired of these articles predicting something will be better, cheaper to make and therefore much cheaper to buy.

    Nothing in the history of the world that is better than an existing product has been sold for less.

        Things end up being sold at a price very near what they're worth to the end user, which often has no relation to their cost of manufacture. Think of perfume, diamonds, or celebrity-diet plans.

    Also for something exposed to the elements that has to last many years, there are so many ways to fail. Temperature cycles, moisture, UV, hail, corrosion-- all of these have to protected against,
    and the cost of these goes up as you make the cells smaller and more fragile.

    It's swell to have better (in some sense) cells, but that's just a small part of the overall picture.

  • by Patch86 ( 1465427 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @10:59AM (#30543914)

    You don't need econ101 voodoo where something of infinite value which lasts forever is discounted to nothing to show that more efficient cells that don't cost much more and have a similar long lifespan are worth it (and especially so if they cost less than some things in use).

    Cost is all important. 2 devices might both last 500 years, and one might be 3 times as efficient as the other. But if it costs 10 times as much, it's not going to fly with average Mr Commercial.

    If I want to kit my house out with solar panels, it wouldn't make sense to buy the more expensive one. Sure it might pay off as the centuries tick by, but that just doesn't enter in to it. You want something affordable now, which will pay off over the next few years before you move house/die.

  • by Errol backfiring ( 1280012 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @11:11AM (#30544008) Journal
    Populated areas only make the problem worse. People go out to work at about the same time, go home about the same time, it gets dark at the same time. It is nice that you can power the filled offices from the empty homes, but where does your energy comes from when you switch on the light bulb when it gets dark? From storage, that's what. Only, with that many people doing about the same things, the individual problem just adds up.
  • by cellocgw ( 617879 ) <cellocgw@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday December 24, 2009 @12:41PM (#30544858) Journal

    I'm awfully tired of these articles predicting something will be better, cheaper to make and therefore much cheaper to buy.

    Nothing in the history of the world that is better than an existing product has been sold for less.

    You ever looked at the prices of, say, TV sets, or..... PCs?

  • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:19PM (#30545208) Homepage Journal

    It has been said that in general Americans hate science intensely and distrust scientists but love technology - hence the evolution, vaccination and climate change fiascos going on in the USA when it is accepted elsewhere.
    Is that the view you have or am I just looking at things far too simplisticly?

    Oh, no, you've nailed it squarely on the head. Ignorance is easy -- just stop doing hard stuff like going to school, and there you are -- ignorant. Those who follow that path usually end up working hard in low paying jobs, resentful of the intellectuals who have "easy" high paying jobs. And they pass this prejudice to their ignorant children, who are in no position to understand why their mom and dad work hard but make no money, but dad's boss, the MBA, makes lots of money for doing "nothing". Thus we have an entire class of self-selected, auto-perpetuating, anti-intellectuals. The problem is that it takes logic to understand the problem, and it takes an education to understand the logic required to understand the problem. Catch 22.

    The thing about the large pool of uneducated people is that they still have the right to vote. And being uneducated, they're much easier to manipulate with advertising and sloganeering -- yet their votes count equal to those of educated people.

    As a result, politicians figured out centuries ago that a pro-science platform can never get enough votes to win: there is a limited set of people with the education required to understand a scientific point, and half of those will disagree with your other political positions. So they instead pander to the uneducated people with patriotic slogans and religion, which easily locks up a good half of the voters for cheap. A science-based platform would only alienate them. For example, George Bush hid his Yale education and east coast privileged upbringing as best as he could, and donned a cowboy hat and a Texas ranch in order to get votes from the anti-intellectuals. It obviously works.

    Those of us who have educations certainly don't help the situation any when we dismiss their uneducated opinions; but it's impossible to have a discussion when the political opponents trot out their slogans and promote ignorance instead of debating facts. We can't even restore intelligent dialog in this kind of environment. (I guess that's been the curse of politics since forever.)

    It is funny to see these fake anti-intellectuals outed. Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show (a comedic take on the news) recently skewered a far-right-wing TV show host, Gretchen Carlson, who attempts to identify herself with the "dumb soccer mom" crowd. In a recent show she said something like "Now I don't know what an ignoramus is, so I googled it, and found it meant an ignorant lawyer or uneducated person." She also claimed not to know what a "czar" was, so she had to google that word too. Jon pointed out that she graduated from Stanford with honors, and questioned whether someone that well-educated could possibly not know what an ignoramus or czar is. (Sadly, the dumb soccer moms don't have the education required to appreciate The Daily Show, so his efforts are usually wasted anyway.)

In 1869 the waffle iron was invented for people who had wrinkled waffles.