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Paul Alivisatos Interview - What are the applications of nanoscience in the use of solar energy?

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First of all, it's one of our great challenges to learn how to use the energy of the sun. Each photon comes in with about 2 electron volt’s worth of energy, which is quite a bit of energy. If we learn how to harness it correctly, the sun sends down enough energy every day... power everything that we do very easily. The problem is, when we try to use the solar energy, it’s too expensive. The materials that we make cost too much money in order to make... ...effective use of the solar energy. Nanocrystals and nanomaterials enter into that because it turns out you can make tiny crystals ...much more cheaply than you can make big ones. The way a person can understand that is – – maybe you have to be a little bit old enough to do this, but when you’re old enough – you go to the jewelry store to buy a diamond... ...and you find that the size of the diamond determines its cost. Twice the size – four times the cost. And you can understand that. To make a crystal really perfect, the bigger it is, the harder it is to do. The more rare it is, the longer it takes to form a perfect crystal. Today we make solar cells out of big crystals, but if in fact we made them out of tiny crystals, the tiny crystals can be made much more cheaply. The only question is: can we make a high quality solar cell out of very tiny crystals? That’s a challenge for nanoscience today, and that’s something that we work on very hard in my group, to develop a trick... ...for how to make a very efficient solar cell using very low cost nanoparticles.

Video Details

Duration: 1 minute and 49 seconds
Country: Sweden
Language: English
Producer: MoleClues TV
Director: Per Thoren
Views: 144
Posted by: locumele on Jan 18, 2010

Professor Paul Alivisatos interviewed for MoleClues. Entire interview available on

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