Can HelioVolt Challenge First Solar?

HelioVolt has devised a thin-film manufacturing technology that saves on time and energy while controlling better for solar absorption

7 min read
Photo: HelioVolt
Photo: HelioVolt

Crystalline silicon dominates today’s photovoltaic (PV) industry, with panels being installed at high rates on rooftops and as solar farms. But the fast expansion of the silicon PV market has driven up the costs of materials in recent years, and manufacturing and installation procedures are inherently inefficient and expensive. Because of such limits, it’s been taken for granted in the industry that silicon will be but a passing phase and that wide adoption of solar electricity will depend on the development of thin-film PV materials, which are cheaper to make and apply.

Lately, it’s First Solar that has captured most of the headlines in second-generation PV, with a cadmium telluride thin film that the company says it can make for less than a dollar per watt. Because of First Solar’s breakthrough and other promising developments in both organic and inorganic PV materials, thin films could account for 31 percent of the solar market by 2013, double the 2008 share, according to the analysis firm iSuppli Corp., in El Segundo, Calif.

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Engineers Are Working on a Solar Microgrid To Outlast Lunar Nights

Future lunar bases will need power for mining and astronaut survival

4 min read
A rendering of a lunar base. In the foreground are rows of solar panels and behind them are two astronauts standing in front of a glass dome with plants inside.
P. Carril/ESA

The next time humans land on the moon on the moon, they intend to stay awhile. For the Artemis program program, NASA and its collaborators want to build a sustained presence on the moon, which includes setting up a base at which astronauts can live and work.

One of the crucial elements for a functioning lunar base is a power supply. Sandia National Laboratories, a research and development lab that specializes in building microgrids for military bases, is teaming up with NASA to design one that will work on the moon.

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Trilobite-Inspired Camera Boasts Huge Depth of Field

New camera relies on "metalenses" that could be fabricated using a standard CMOS foundry

3 min read
Black and white image showing different white box shapes in rows

Scanning electron microscope image of the titanium oxide nanopillars that make up the metalens. The scale is 500 nanometers (nm).

NIST

Inspired by the eyes of extinct trilobites, researchers have created a miniature camera with a record-setting depth of field—the distance over which a camera can produce sharp images in single photo. Their new study reveals that with the aid of artificial intelligence, their device can simultaneously image objects as near as 3 centimeters and as far away as 1.7 kilometers.

Five hundred million years ago, the oceans teemed with horseshoe-crab-like trilobites. Among the most successful of all early animals, these armored invertebrates lived on Earth for roughly 270 million years before going extinct.

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Why Battery Energy Storage Is Moving to Higher DC Voltages

Download this free whitepaper to learn how battery energy storage up to 1500 VDC can deliver power efficiencies and cost reductions

1 min read

The explosive growth of the battery energy storage industry has created a need for higher DC voltages in utility-scale applications.

Download this free whitepaper and learn how you can achieve a smooth transfer of power, efficiencies and cost reductions with battery energy storage system components up to1500 VDC.