Tag Archives: energy use

New Path to More Efficient Organic Solar Cells Uncovered at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source

Why are efficient and affordable solar cells so highly coveted? Volume. The amount of solar energy lighting up Earth’s land mass every year is nearly 3,000 times the total amount of annual human energy use. But to compete with energy from fossil fuels, photovoltaic devices must convert sunlight to electricity with a certain measure of efficiency. For polymer-based organic photovoltaic cells, which are far less expensive to manufacture than silicon-based solar cells, scientists have long believed that the key to high efficiencies rests in the purity of the polymer/organic cell’s two domains – acceptor and donor. Now, however, an alternate and possibly easier route forward has been shown.

Working at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS), a premier source of X-ray and ultraviolet light beams for research, an international team of scientists found that for highly efficient polymer/organic photovoltaic cells, size matters. (more…)

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Metamolecules That Switch Handedness at Light-Speed

Researchers Develop Optically Switchable Chiral Terahertz Metamolecules

A multi-institutional team of researchers that included scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has created the first artificial molecules whose chirality can be rapidly switched from a right-handed to a left-handed orientation with a  beam of light. This holds potentially important possibilities for the application of terahertz technologies across a wide range of fields, including reduced energy use for data-processing, homeland security and ultrahigh-speed communications.

Chirality is the distinct left/right orientation or “handedness” of some types of molecules, meaning the molecule can take one of two mirror image forms. The right-handed and left-handed forms of such molecules, called “enantiomers,” can exhibit strikingly different properties. For example, one enantiomer of the chiral molecule limonene smells of lemon, the other smells of orange. The ability to observe or even switch the chirality of molecules using terahertz (trillion-cycles-per-second) electromagnetic radiation is a much coveted asset in the world of high technology. (more…)

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Ten Things to Do Today for a Greener Tomorrow

It’s easy to take steps that help reduce energy consumption. And the benefits include saving money – something anyone can appreciate. Here are 10 tips on ways to cut energy use.

1) Recycle electronics properly. United States residents can visit the Environ to learn where they can dispose of unwanted PCs and other electronics, or you can visit our Recycle Hardware page to learn about available options.

2) Install a programmable thermostat. The U.S. Department of Energy says you can reduce heating costs by as much as 10 percent by turning the heat down 10-15 degrees at night. Programmable thermostats make it easy to ensure the heat goes off at bedtime, yet comes back on in time for morning coffee. And they cost as little as $20. (more…)

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