Reader John alerted me today to an article in the latest issue of Nano Letters describing an experimental finding that could lead to quantum dot (i.e., nanocrystal) solar cells with very high energy conversion efficiencies. According to the press release accompanying the article, this development could push efficiencies as high as 65% (though no such claim is made in the article itself). However, as I explain after the jump, this is a very young technology piggybacked onto another young technology. This technology has tremendous potential, but I suspect it will take a long time to develop it.From this point on, the reading gets pretty technical for someone who hasn't studied much science in the last 17 years. The press release from NREL is geared more towards us laypeople:
The research demonstrates the potential for solar, or photovoltaic, cells that reduce wasteful heat and maximize the amount of the sun's energy that is converted to electricity—a key step toward making solar energy more cost-competitive with conventional power sources.While I'm not a scientist, I know that 65% efficiency is phenomenal even in theory at this point.
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