Monday, July 23, 2007

Print Solar Panels From Your Personal Computer? Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
(Hat Tip: The Speculist)

A new breakthrough in solar technology may enable homeowners and astronauts alike to print (or paint) solar panels from their home or office, and apply them upon whatever surface they deem fit for use.

( Lead researcher Somenath Mitra, professor and acting chairman at NJIT's Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science, described the process as "simple". [...]

"Developing organic solar cells from polymers, however, is a cheap and potentially simpler alternative," said Mitra.

"We foresee a great deal of interest in our work because solar cells can be inexpensively printed or simply painted on exterior building walls and/or roof tops.

"Imagine driving in your hybrid car with a solar panel painted on the roof, which is producing electricity to drive the engine. The opportunities are endless."

Aside from helping people on Earth, this technology could drastically help reduce the cost of colonizing future worlds. Astronauts could simply construct solar panels out of light weight material instead of hauling tons of wire, steel, etc. in order to power a tiny base off world.

Panels like these would also be expendable, allowing colonists to simply discard (or preferably recycle) dying panels and create new ones in their place.

Note: What makes this technology really interesting is the fact that they are using carbon nanotubes as an electrical conductor, which may help out various companies in the space elevator industry.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

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~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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