Seeking Solar Supremacy

Posted on March 10, 2008  Comments (0)

The dance of the particles

Engineering professors Ray LaPierre, who is working with Cleanfield on solar cells made from a dense turf of nanowires, and Adrian Kitai, who co-founded Flexible Solar to make bendable solar panels that are less costly to manufacture, are showing how skills typically prized in the telecom sector can be repurposed to build better solar technologies.

Similar efforts are also being made at the University of Toronto’s Institute for Optical Sciences, where a new spin-off called The Solar Venture aims to improve the economics of solar. “Ontario was a global leader in telecom, but now that has slowed down,” says Rafael Kleiman, professor of engineering physics and director of McMaster’s Centre for Emerging Device Technologies. “All the people, all this research (in telecom), is finding a new home. I really believe Ontario can make itself a global hub in solar photovoltaic technologies.”

A solar cell is just a big specialized chip, so everything we’ve learned about making chips applies,” Paul Saffo, an engineering professor at Stanford University, recently told the New York Times. There’s a reason why California’s Silicon Valley, the headquarters of data-networking king Cisco Systems and semiconductor goliath Intel, is positioning itself as Solar Valley.

All around the world people are aiming to create centers of excellence for solar power research and production.

Related: Economic Strength Through Technology LeadershipLarge-Scale, Cheap Solar ElectricityEconomic Impact of Educational InstitutionsSolar Power InnovationNanotechnology Supports National Economic PolicyEntrepreneurial Engineers

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