Using nanotechnology for brighter lights and better solar power

Some examples of quantum dots, mere nanometres in sizeTwo good examples of nanotechnology in action today from Science Daily. The first comes in the field of solar technology. There are two main forms of solar nanotech: thin films of nanoparticles like titanium oxide doped with nitrogen, and so-called ‘quantum dots’, tiny semiconducting crystals that absorb the energy from light to release conducting electrons. Scientists from California, Mexico and China have shown that both methods can be combined into one material that performs better together than either method alone!

The second article discusses LED lights, which use far less energy than even energy-saving flourescent bulbs. However, whilst LEDs work great for smaller uses like book-lights, computers or mobile phones, they aren’t bright enough to light a room. The method to improve this is to make thousands of tiny holes on the bulb itself, allowing more light to escape the LED. Whilst before this process has been extremely time and money intensive, using nanotechnology lithography to imprint the holes makes the process far cheaper – which could lead to a massive growth in usage of LEDs in our homes and gadgets.

EDIT: As Larry mentions in the comments, there’s also been great progress making solar antennas using nanoscale spirals imprinted onto the material. This method could be printed on flexible materials and potentially is as much as 80% Efficient. Thanks for the heads up Larry!

[via Science Daily, image via NIST]

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