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All Technical Articles - Solar & Alternative Energy

All Newsroom Technical Articles, starting with the most recently posted:

PW childcare grant

SPIE has created a grant to give parents equal opportunity to attend its largest annual meeting.

1 November 2018
Jennifer Douris O’Bryan

The US Trade Representative has announced a process for US companies to request permission to continue importing targeted items on a duty-free basis.


7 September 2018
Lynn Loo interview

The inventor of nanotransfer printing is working on an innovative, self-powering smart window.

13 July 2018
SPIE CEO Kent Rochford

SPIE's new CEO Kent Rochford, formerly of NIST, stepped into his new role 1 June. We asked Rochford to discuss his views on SPIE and the world of optics and photonics.

11 June 2018
EU regulations

EU-RoHS task force seeks help from the optics and photonics community.

31 April 2018
SPIE Women in Optics logo

A Women in Optics presentation from SPIE Photonics West 2018.

22 March 2018
SPIE PW orange

An interview from SPIE Photonics West 2018.

21 March 2018

World's oldest dedicated university optics center celebrates a hundred years of optics-related research and education, but notes the need to widen participation.

19 March 2018
SPIE logo

The Photonics West Show Daily spoke with recruiters and students about the optics and photonics job market.

26 February 2018

SPIE, one of seven international organization members of the International Commission for Optics, has supported the mission of the organization for many years.

14 February 2018

Taking a path less traveled by women.

29 January 2018
SPIE logo

The 2018 SPIE President shares her career path, education, and other interests with the members of SPIE.

27 January 2018
SPIE logo

Since its inception in 1955, SPIE has focused on providing a conduit for ideas in photonics and optics in a growing and vibrant global marketplace.

26 January 2018

Integrating highly efficient energy conversion materials onto stretchable and biocompatible substrates could yield breakthroughs in implantable biomechanical energy harvesting systems.

21 July 2011
Renowned telescope designer Roger Angel has turned his attention and telescope mirror technology to concentrating photovoltaics.
12 July 2011
Nanogenerators made from zinc oxide can power small electronics with energy made from tiny motions.
8 July 2011

A unique collaboration between UC Santa Cruz and NASA Ames Research Center enables academia, industry, and startups to access laboratory resources.

9 June 2011
Buffeted by the ups and downs of the solar market, Solyndra forges ahead with its innovative, US-made technology.
17 March 2011

Training more high-school physics teachers and increasing student learning are two of the challenges facing math, science, and engineering education in the United States.

17 December 2010
Will the sun come out? Knowing the answer can have a big impact on the power grid. Jan Kleissl explains a prototype system at UCSD.
13 December 2010
With properties that don't exist in nature, metamaterials open up an exciting range of possibilities.
10 November 2010

Evaluating the lifespan of solar installations is a challenge for photovoltaic manufacturers, dependent on developing standards and methods of testing.

2 November 2010

Now engaged in a series of shots that will lead up to conducting full-scale ignition experiments as part of the National Ignition Campaign, the NIF is nearing its objective, says its director.

29 October 2010

Featured speakers at SPIE Optics + Photonics shared their thoughts on a range of topics including the solar market, fusion energy, solid-state lighting, and a Nobel laureate's talk on stars and scientific discovery.

15 October 2010
Winners of the 2009 NASA Power Beaming Competition, innovators at LaserMotive are plotting the development course of laser propulsion.
23 September 2010
The CTO of Concentrix Solar discusses progress in solar energy cost and efficiency, and the critical role of photonics in the technology.
11 August 2010
We are at a golden age of laser development and exploitation -- seeing rapid enhancement of capability into ever higher powers and ever shorter pulses, and the emergence of a wide range of applications.
7 May 2010
Because of optical microcavity effects, using thin nonpatterned metal films instead of indium tin oxide in organic solar cells can result in similar efficiencies.
28 December 2009
Incorporating molecules with special optical properties into thin, dye-sensitized solar cells brings the practical application of these photovoltaics one step closer.
8 December 2009
Grooved metal surfaces coated with metal-dielectric stacks are predicted to meet the performance requirements for next-generation highly efficient solar thermal absorbers.
20 November 2009
Active components can illuminate 40m2 at the level of 300–400lx during mid-day working hours with sufficiently uniform spatial distribution and controlled glare.
11 November 2009
A composite virtual tour on video of the different components of a Solar Decathlon house.
4 November 2009
A suitable back layer can improve harvesting of light energy by changing two or more low-energy photons into a single energetic one.
28 October 2009

A team from Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany, won top honors for most attractive and efficient solar-powered home at the 2009 Solar Decathlon.

19 October 2009
Optimization of new and existing conjugated polymers for solar cells helps bring inexpensive renewable electricity closer to reality.
8 October 2009
A new type of back-contact dye-sensitized photovoltaic cell delivers high energy-conversion efficiency.
15 September 2009
Martha Symko-Davies, NRELIn this video interview, Martha Symko-Davies talks about NREL's incubator for high-impact technologies expected to advance solar energy
4 September 2009
Capacitance-voltage measurements facilitate robustness and transient-behavior studies of photovoltaic cells and modules.
4 September 2009

A key to solar energy becoming a key part of the energy infrastructure is reliability of components and systems.

1 September 2009
Rhenium complexes can enhance optical absorption, paving the way for more efficient organic photovoltaics.
1 September 2009
A new type of ordering in polymer:fullerene blends explains behavior differences in organic photovoltaics and could push them towards higher efficiencies through molecular design.
20 August 2009
The former president of MIT spoke at the SPIE Optics + Photonics Symposium Awards Banquet.
13 August 2009
An operational monitoring system based on acceleration sensors may improve turbine performance and reliability.
13 August 2009
A computer model can help determine where to use highly reflective coatings in natural-lighting systems, thus increasing their overall efficiency.
13 August 2009

Martha Symko-Davies of NREL highlights solar points of interest at SPIE Optics + Photonics.

7 August 2009
Incorporating crystalline nanoparticles in tunnel junctions dramatically reduces electrical and optical absorption losses in solar cells, as well as mid-IR and telecommunications lasers.
24 July 2009
An inverted growth structure and improvements in lattice-mismatched materials enable over 40% of incident radiation to be converted to electricity.
16 July 2009
Characterizing the changes that occur in the structure of a solar cell during heat treatment provides insight that is critical to understanding device performance.
10 July 2009
Surface nanoparticles of zinc metal and bulk zinc and oxygen vacancies are produced by irradiation of single-crystal zinc oxide with 193nm excimer-laser light.
6 July 2009
Nanostructured composites absorb light and manipulate a fundamental property of surfaces to generate locomotion of objects on liquids.
2 July 2009
A naturally ventilated photovoltaic coating system could decrease power consumption for buildings in temperate to tropical climates.
24 June 2009
Harnessing the oscillation of electrons on conductor surfaces can effectively enhance the performance of organic photovoltaic cells.
17 June 2009
A novel conceptual design tool helped scientists build Sky-Sailor, a small-scale, autonomous solar-powered craft that flew for 27 hours.
17 June 2009
Interface modification in polymer solar cells using chemically tailored self-assembled monolayers significantly enhances device performance.
12 June 2009
Reflection can be greatly reduced by graded refractive-index layers fabricated in a simple, scalable process.
10 June 2009
Top SPIE Newsroom articles from the previous month, and papers from SPIE Journals and Conference Proceedings.
9 June 2009
Phovoltaic laminates are being used on capped landfills, rooftops, and other otherwise unusable spaces to create solar power.
27 May 2009
Cationic lone pairs may point the way towards low band-gap metal oxides for solar-driven hydrogen production.
27 May 2009
A new class of materials enables a better understanding of organic photovoltaic-device physics.
27 May 2009
Self-assembling supramolecular structures of tetrathiafulvalene derivatives with fullerenes have electronic properties suitable for photovoltaics.
19 May 2009
A comparison of photovoltaic cells shows that high performance ratios and high energy densities do not always go together.
15 May 2009
Acid etching followed by vapor texturing has the potential to reduce reflectance and improve the efficiency of nanostructured photovoltaics.
12 May 2009
In thermophotovoltaic systems, novel thin photovoltaic cells, are limited by carrier-transport resistance but operate comparably to conventional cells within practical parameters.
27 April 2009
Novel copper electrodes offer high electrical conductivity and optical transparency, which facilitate low-cost, high-performance organic photovoltaic production.
16 April 2009
A new type of dye-sensitized solar-cell module has achieved transparency and color choice, facilitating mass production.
15 April 2009

The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) is a non-profit focused on promoting, developing, and facilitating solar electrification of rural communities.

1 April 2009
2D columnar photonic structures that use holographic polymerization of liquid crystals can deliver efficient distributed feedback and electric field tuning.
26 March 2009
Organic active-layer and contact depositions using an ultrasonic spray process show that spray-deposited organic thin films may be comparable to spin-coated films.
25 March 2009
Thin-film solar cells can now be deposited directly onto commercial ceramic tiles for use in construction.
16 March 2009
Pillared graphene provides a stable architecture for enhanced fuel storage.
8 March 2009
Temperature dependent studies make it possible to quantitatively assess the efficiency of organic semiconductor-based solar cells.
24 February 2009
Columnlike liquid crystals can be applied as small, lightweight sources of power for vehicles and mobile devices.
13 February 2009
Metal-reducing bacteria can construct electrically conductive networks using semiconductive nanominerals.
20 January 2009
Polymer-based solar cells should soon reach a suitable performance level to offer a feasible alternative source of energy.
20 January 2009
A novel, nanostructured photovoltaic material holds promise for large-scale solar power generation.
22 December 2008
Quasi-1D systems represent the most desirable design for optoelectronic applications where carrier conductivity is required.
16 December 2008
Novel photovoltaic inks and materials may enable wide-scale use of renewable solar energy.
15 December 2008
The coexistence of optical transparency and electrical conductivity in In2O3 relies on an intricate synergy of the underlying crystal symmetry, conduction-band energy, and doping efficiency.
17 November 2008
Using solar power to derive hydrogen from hydrogen sulfide could reduce pollution and generate renewable energy.
17 November 2008
The creation of homogeneous functional thin films is greatly improved using a single chemical compound to control film growth.
31 October 2008
Adding multiple substituents to a fullerene-derived n-type semiconductor raises the efficiency of plastic photovoltaic devices.
31 October 2008
NASA's QuikSCAT satellite maps the global wind characteristics over the oceans to achieve optimal deployment of wind farms and to understand weather and climate changes.
8 October 2008
The future of large-scale PV is likely to bring development of inexpensive thin film and nanostructured devices and processes. This video interview with the person who coined the term "plasmonics" explores the prospects -- and the urgency -- for developing new photovoltaic approaches.
6 October 2008
New theoretical understanding of the geometric and electronic structure of interfaces between transparent electrodes and organic layers could enhance device functionality.
6 October 2008
A coordinated network of advanced remote-sensing stations tracks, measures, and characterizes atmospheric aerosol for use in climate and environmental research.
3 October 2008
Photovoltaics with porous electrodes made of nanocrystallites can convert power more efficiently than current dye-sensitized devices.
18 September 2008

What lies ahead for the commercialization of concentrated photovoltaic systems?

12 September 2008

In 2007, the Solar Decathlon saw 20 energy-efficient houses constructed on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The director of the event talks about issues in solar construction and plans for future competitions.

28 August 2008
A fiber-based organic photovoltaic may form the building block of cost- effective, energy-harvesting textiles.
21 August 2008
The low optical reflection from nanowire arrays could be exploited to improve the photon absorption efficiency of solar cells.
8 August 2008
The range of energies accessible to nitride semiconductor materials provides unique flexibility in designing quantum-dot photovoltaic structures.
28 July 2008
A novel method to assess the intensity of solar radiation on existing rooftops uses a combination of aerial images and geographic information systems software.
11 July 2008
Exquisite control over an anodically formed TiO2 nanotube array architecture, large internal surface area, and lower recombination allows for low-cost high-efficiency hybrid inorganic-organic solar cells.
20 June 2008
Laser technology applications are indispensable in the photovoltaic industry, allowing both enhanced energy-generating efficiency and reduced costs.
5 June 2008
The first unidirectional energy-transfer system on the macroscopic scale shows potential for producing efficient light-harvesting materials.
5 June 2008
Variable emissivity thermal control technology that works in the mid- and far-IR could make an effective coating for spacecraft and satellites.
26 May 2008
Inducing self-organized phase separation in polymer-fullerene blends by using patterned substrates to modify surface energies improves the performance of organic photovoltaics.
23 May 2008
Dipolar solvents may improve the morphology of organic polymer junctions and increase the efficiency of low-cost photovoltaic materials.
13 May 2008
Nano-engineered devices could enable energy-conversion efficiencies on par with bulk silicon technologies, with a cheaper manufacturing process.
9 April 2008
Energy from sources such as body movement or blood flow is converted to electrical energy by deforming piezoelectric semiconducting nanowires.
25 March 2008
New coating materials enable controlled switching between opaque, transparent, and hybrid states.
19 March 2008
The Sustainable Urban Neighborhood modeling tool (SUNtool) simulates hourly urban energy, water and, waste flows to help urban designers optimize the sustainability of their master planning proposals.
19 March 2008
A variable emittance device, vacuum-deposited as a solid-state monolithic thin-film system, can function as an electrically-controlled dimmable mirror in the IR region with reflectance in the 10-90% range.
5 March 2008
Introducing a photosensitive modification layer between the active and gate dielectric layers of thin-film devices dramatically enhances their charge mobility performance.
3 March 2008
Single-wall carbon nanotubes improve the performance of organic photovoltaics and could bring them closer to practical implementation.
13 February 2008
Microfluidic deposition of metal grids can facilitate printing methods for building solar cells on flexible carriers without costly transparent electrodes.
6 February 2008
Significant advances are improving the efficiency and applicability of solid-state dye-sensitized conductivity devices that incorporate organic hole transporters instead of liquid electrolytes.
29 January 2008
Long-range energy transfer in solar cell architectures promises dramatically improved performance of organic photovoltaics.
29 January 2008
An inexpensive alternative to noble-metal catalysts could prove key to the practical implementation of artificial solar-powered energy devices.
14 January 2008
Optimization of annealing conditions significantly increases the short-circuit current density of nanotube-based solar cells.
19 December 2007
A novel solvent mixture points the way to cheap, flexible sources of energy and new applications such as self-powered electronic newspapers.
20 November 2007
Long believed to exhibit either p-type or n-type conduction, a conjugated polymer is shown to have the ability to act as both an electron donor and acceptor in solar cells.
6 November 2007
Constant learning, hard work, and collaboration combine to pursue a superior energy alternative. From SPIE Professional, October 2007.
24 October 2007
The ordering of carbon nanotubes in polymer hosts can significantly increase charge mobility in photovoltaic devices.
30 September 2007
This month's featured patent review by analysts from Nerac.
26 September 2007

Tom Feist reviews progress in several different solar technologies, and assesses the prospects for development in the years ahead.

10 September 2007
Simulations suggest that optimal integration of advanced electric- and daylighting technologies can lead to power densities of less than 4W/m2 in offices.
4 September 2007
X-rays can be used to investigate quantum confinement effects on the bandgap profiles of semiconductors, allowing better light-harvesting properties to be engineered.
14 August 2007
Piezoelectric-based sources have the potential to supplement or replace onboard batteries in in many types of devices in which ambient shock, impact, vibration, or oscillatory motions are present.
24 July 2007
Photo-induced decomposition of water on TiO2 electrodes offers the prospect of sustainable hydrogen production, but the underlying character of adsoprtion remains a matter of controversy.
16 July 2007
Replacing conventional pigmented coatings with specialized ones that reflect more near-infrared radiation lowers surface temperatures.
26 June 2007
A liquid level measurement system based on a high-resolution camera allows for fuller automation.
13 June 2007
Dopant molecules can increase the conductivity of organic semiconductors by orders of magnitude, allowing them to outperform inorganic devices.
6 June 2007
Reversing the typical geometry of organic photovoltaic cells results in more environmentally robust devices.
24 May 2007
New polymer and polyelectrolyte materials and structures could make plastic photovoltaics more efficient.
23 May 2007
Thin metal layers act as recombination centers in organic multijunction cells to increase output voltage, but the effect strongly depends on the type of metal.
22 May 2007
Solar cells based on III-IV compound semiconductors and light concentration have potential applications in personal electronics and large-scale power generation.
17 May 2007
A validated simulation model can be used to investigate the effect of photovoltaic/inverter sizing ratio on performance.
4 May 2007
The development of new polymers and organic electron acceptors for solar cells increases the commercial viability of these devices.
13 April 2007
A remote measurement and analysis system based on DataSocket technology from National Instruments' Measurement Studio and the Microsoft .NET Framework offers improved flexibility and speed.
15 March 2007
Time-resolved electrostatic force microscopy reveals efficiency variations in plastic solar cells with ∼100nm resolution.
27 February 2007
Metal nanoparticle-modified microcrystalline silicon thin-film photoelectrodes produce hydrogen from an aqueous electrolyte solution.
27 February 2007
Solid-state organic photoelectrochemical cells eliminate handling, portability and packaging problems encountered with liquid-based cells.
29 January 2007
Thin-film blends of novel conjugated polymers with fullerene derivatives offer a promising route to improved power conversion efficiencies in photovoltaic devices.
29 January 2007
Polymer solar cells operate differently from inorganic p-n junction-based solar cells, with consequences for their design and performance.
26 January 2007
Solar cells can be made better and less expensively by creating them on a sacrificial silicon layer and then transferring them to a low-cost substrate.
15 January 2007
Novel microstructures enhance light-matter interactions to provide new functions, including wavelength-division multiplexing for optical networks and solar-light absorption.
15 December 2006
Advances in a versatile approach to making glass have produced a range of innovative optical materials.
14 December 2006
A novel system exploits solar energy by collecting and channeling sunlight to illuminate interior spaces.
12 December 2006
A flame aerosol reactor process that simplifies fabrication of photocatalytic films could prove attractive to industry.
7 December 2006
Fiber-optic waveguiding techniques yield a new photovoltaic device design.
3 December 2006
Thermal energy storage systems can increase the efficiency of solarthermal power plants and industrial process-heat applications.
2 December 2006
An architectural innovation that reallocates light intensity within plastic solar cells results in better-performing devices.
28 November 2006
The low heat loss of vacuum glazing can be combined with the variable transmittance of electrochromics to control solar gain.
15 November 2006
Side-illumination tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy of silicon structures provides unprecedented lateral resolution.
14 November 2006
A thin titanium oxide layer plus a low dye load allows gel electrolyte to be used in dye sensitized solar cells with a quasi solid state construction.
30 October 2006
Hybrid nanocrystal/polymer solar cell performance can be improved by tailoring the component compositions to optimize donor and acceptor band levels.
12 October 2006
Crystalline silicon, once the undisputed leader of the photovoltaic market, is now facing competition from new thin-film technologies.
30 October 2006
Adding nanostructured inorganic semiconductors to organic polymers can produce efficient, flexible, and potentially inexpensive devices.
29 September 2006

Concentrator photovoltaics hold the promise of electricity costs equal to or below traditional sources. SolFocus CEO Gary Conley talks about progress toward this goal.

26 September 2006
To enable generation of over 100 lumens from a small area source, white organic solid-state lighting devices can be stacked together using a metal interconnect.
14 September 2006
A coating that offers 85% transmittance and excellent durability can be used as a transparent electrode in flexible displays or as a thermal barrier in energy-saving windows.
12 September 2006
New polymers absorb light from the ultraviolet to the infrared, extending the reach of organic-based solar cells.
10 September 2006

The future of alternative energy sources depends on reliability, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness. John Turner of NREL discusses the potential of various technologies.

7 September 2006
Finding optimal reaction conditions for TiO2 photocatalysts is aided by molecular understanding of rate-determining steps and the factors that control them.
31 September 2006
Optimizing a recently discovered quantum dot effect that gets multiple electrons from photons could make a critical difference in photovoltaics.
10 August 2006
Although many hurdles remain, photovoltaic solar energy has the potential for wide use, particularly in developing nations where many people are not connected to a main grid.
10 August 2006
Optical modeling applied to thin-film solar cells can be used to optimize their existing structures, detect limits in efficiency, and devise novel improvements.
31 August 2006
Organic solar cells using Ca/Ag as cathode can reach operational lifetimes of 2400h under one sun illumination, at 25° C, in a controlled atmosphere.
20 July 2006
With the help of a metal oxide photocatalyst, overall water splitting can be driven by visible light to produce hydrogen and oxygen.
3 July 2006
Modeling plastic solar cells creates opportunities for targeted improvement of their performance.
3 July 2006
Non-imaging devices uniformly distribute solar energy over an infrared-photovoltaic array to enable a unique solar energy system to power its own solar tracking.
11 June 2006
An advanced thermoelectric generator outstrips photovoltaic cells in converting solar energy to electric power, and this lightweight system could power many high-flying vehicles.
1 June 2006
Ordering nanomaterial structures within a conducting polymer host provides a means of controlling the charge balance needed to create truly efficient plastic solar cells.
19 May 2006
Rechargers efficient enough to build into flashlights, radios, etc. will cut more than half of soldiers' backup battery weight.
15 May 2006
Application of photosynthetic purple bacteria in the presence of organic substances and natural irradiation successfully generates hydrogen without use of fossil fuels.
8 May 2006
A thiophene polymer that does not need to be processed using organic solvents is showing promise in photovoltaics.
4 May 2006
Large-area laminated electrochromic glass can now be produced at relatively low cost, making many new applications possible.
1 May 2006
By growing films of light-absorbing polymers slowly, self-organization—which improves the efficiency of polymer solar cells—is promoted.
1 May 2006
Recent advances in modeling the unique optical properties of nanoparticles and nanocomposites pave the way for designing and modeling coatings.
20 April 2006
Nano-textured substrates can be used to trap sunlight and couple it into thin-film silicon solar cells.
12 April 2006
It seems that the time has come for large-scale applications of electrochromics in buildings, automobiles, and elsewhere.
1 April 2006
The confluence of recent advances in photovoltaic technologies and advanced optical design has resulted in unprecedented capabilities for ultra-efficient, yet affordable solar electricity generation at high concentration.
3 March 2006
High-efficiency polymer solar cells could have a major impact on the energy needs of society, if efficiency challenges can be met.
28 February 2006
Organic solar cells are gaining attention due to their potential to be fabricated at low cost onto lightweight and flexible substrates. Recent studies have led to improvements in power conversion efficiencies with values exceeding 5%.
1 February 2006
From oemagazine September 2003
31 September 2003
From oemagazine April 2003
31 April 2003
From oemagazine February 2002
31 February 2002