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Altered Organism Triples Solar Cell Efficiency

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the shiny-happy-algae dept.

Power 158

An anonymous reader writes "By harnessing the shells of living organisms in the sea, microscopic algae called diatoms, engineers have tripled the efficiency of experimental dye-sensitized solar cells. The diatoms were fed a diet of titanium dioxide, the main ingredient for thin film solar cells, instead of their usual meal which is silica (silicon dioxide). As a result, their shells became photovoltaic when coated with dyes. The result is a thin-film dye-sensitized solar cell that is three times more efficient than those without the diatoms."

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When can I buy them? (2, Insightful)

wheeda (520016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535841)

Neat. When can I buy them for my house?

Re:When can I buy them? (5, Interesting)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536893)

You don't have to buy them. You can get titanium dioxide from donuts [hackaday.com] and use that to enhance your solar cells.

Our food really is filled with crap!

Just had to ask... (4, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535843)

So does this mean we now have to call them dye-atoms?

Don't bother throwing things...I've already taken cover.

Re:Just had to ask... (2, Funny)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536131)

This sounds like a good passover joke. If they had dyed the atoms, it would have been good enough for us.
dye-atom!

Re:Just had to ask... (5, Funny)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536609)

It's too bad they used Titanium instead of Lithium. We could have had DyeLithium Crystal solar power

Re:Just had to ask... (1)

SEAL (88488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536987)

Yeah but since it's triple the output, you could call it Tritanium.

120% efficiency! (2, Interesting)

Two9A (866100) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535845)

So, with the "breakthrough" a few months ago that three different dyes in a cell could capture 40% of light from the sun, does that make this more efficient than coal?

Could the ecomentalists finally have something to cheer about?!

Re:120% efficiency! (4, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535861)

So, with the "breakthrough" a few months ago that three different dyes in a cell could capture 40% of light from the sun, does that make this more efficient than coal?

Well, it doesn't take millions of years to make more when we run out.

Re:120% efficiency! (4, Funny)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535891)

How long does it take to make a new sun? I mean...it will run out eventually...

Re:120% efficiency! (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536049)

You gather the requisite ~290k Earth's mass of Hydrogen [google.com] and than we will talk.

Re:120% efficiency! (4, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536093)

I got er. I just keep them loose all over the place, help yourself.

free range Hydrogen

Re:120% efficiency! (2, Insightful)

WCguru42 (1268530) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536145)

How long does it take to make a new sun? I mean...it will run out eventually...

When the Sun runs out it won't matter how much coal we have, (or any other energy source) unless we've used it to ship out far, far away from this solar system. Nothing is truly indefinite so your argument is mostly pointless.

Re:120% efficiency! (4, Funny)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536187)

It wasn't even an argument...I was being wholly pointless. Jeez, a new "super efficient solar cell of the month" story comes around and everyone puckers their sphincters like they're about to be exposed to the vacuum of space...

Re:120% efficiency! (1)

entgod (998805) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536433)

Wait, it wasn't a joke?

Re:120% efficiency! (2, Informative)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536989)

Nothing is truly indefinite

Heisenberg begs to differ.

Re:120% efficiency! (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537603)

When the Sun runs out it won't matter how much coal we have, (or any other energy source) unless we've used it to ship out far, far away from this solar system. Nothing is truly indefinite so your argument is mostly pointless

Except Chuck Norris... and blendtec blenders.

Re:120% efficiency! (0, Flamebait)

Nutria (679911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536089)

Well, it doesn't take millions of years to make more when we run out.

I guess you were busy "Go Green! Hate Bush!" posters on the day in Science class where they mentioned you can't get more than 100% efficiency.

Re:120% efficiency! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27536499)

Modern coal-fired power plants are at about 30-35% efficiency on average.

In any case, comparing the efficiency of two totally different kinds of energy sources is not necessarily useful for determining which is the better choice. There are also economic (cost of production) and environmental (real cost of GHG emissions, regardless of any state carbon pricing plan) metrics that need to be applied.

The parent commenter should probably notice that it was the OP (pro-coal?) commenter who made the original (sarcastic) 120% claim. The rest of us here clearly understand physics.

Re:120% efficiency! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27536547)

If the teacher was using Bush's "faith based" standards, then the students would never have been told about the 100% limit on efficiency.

Re:120% efficiency! (5, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535919)

So, with the "breakthrough" a few months ago that three different dyes in a cell could capture 40% of light from the sun, does that make this more efficient than coal?

From an energy standpoint, direct solar has ALWAYS been more efficient than coal. How much sunlight do you think was needed to create the coal we burn? How much energy do we use to extract and refine it (when necessary)?

More cost-effective? That's a different matter, and impossible to calculate since we can't even properly measure the true costs of burning coal for electricity.

Re:120% efficiency! (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536165)

More cost-effective?

Tied to that is practicality: you don't get much solar energy at night or during snow or dust storms.

Re:120% efficiency! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27536287)

..you don't get much solar energy at night...

Solution: Flip the panels over and dig a deep, deep hole..

Re:120% efficiency! (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536369)

fantastic :-)

Re:120% efficiency! (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536335)

Yes, we need to build an energy storage infrastructure... and factor the cost in.

Re:120% efficiency! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27536735)

Actually, if you clean the panels off afterward, you might get more energy after a snow storm as more light is reflected back from the ground at the panels.

Re:120% efficiency! (1, Insightful)

epine (68316) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536817)

How much sunlight do you think was needed to create the coal we burn?

The accrued savings from a raging fusion inferno a million times the mass of the earth whose wispy out layer glowed incandescent for four billion years will be pretty much wiped out by about 200 years of human activity.

More cost-effective? That's a different matter, and impossible to calculate since we can't even properly measure the true costs of burning coal for electricity.

Is there where the multi-tasking generation leads us? This has the trappings of someone who actually boarded the bus toward useful cognition, then at the first sign the going was less than 100% straight forward, decided to check out the latest Android killer. The next morning the incomplete thought was picked up off the bedroom floor and tossed into the hatbox beside the front door labelled "father knows best" (just as soon as he unjams his slide rule of universal valuation).

Human society never returns to exactly the same state. We can't actually measure the true cost of anything without making abstractions about myriads of future differences having some kind of linear relationship to present conditions, briefly shared by a fleeting census coalition. The duration of the consensus condition is inversely proportional to the number of people consulted.

This whole thing works a lot better for renewable resources than what we term "non-renewable", which actually means a resource whose replenishment cycle is like watching paint dry in bullet time. Everything in life is relative to our boredom threshold. It's the only metric humans widely agree on.

It also denominates our discussion threads. On a logarithmic scale from 1 to 10, your comment betrays a boredom factor of about 3. The threshold for useful engagement in the multidimensional value space associated with our environmental choices is somewhere around six. Six earns you a seat at the table of meaningful errors.

It will be interesting to see what a generation of multitaskers is able to accomplish on deep challenges. Who knows, it could work.

8==C=O=C=K==S=L=A=P==D (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27535947)

If you ask for a cockslap, don't be surprised if I give you one.

8==C=O=C=K==S=L=A=P==D

Thunk.

Re:8==C=O=C=K==S=L=A=P==D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27536737)

Brought to you by BME?

Re: !120% efficiency (1)

End Program (963207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536245)

FTFA: However, silicon cells have more than twice the efficiency, as much as 20 percent compared to less than 10 percent for dye-sensitized solar cells.

Looks more like 30% efficiency to me.

I don't know why they can't just tell you the percentage up front!

Re:120% efficiency! (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537591)

120% isn't relative coal, it's relative the sun lights energy. And it would probably be cost effective yes. But 120% would be impossible.

I for one... (-1, Redundant)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535853)

welcome our new diatomaceous underlords.

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27536843)

Fail.

Diatoms, what cnan't they do? (4, Insightful)

Khyber (864651) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535867)

From toothpaste to DE Filters to solar cells.

I love nature - if mankind paid more attention to it we'd be so much more advanced than we are currently.

Re:Diatoms, what cnan't they do? (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536011)

they're also that shiny reflective stuff on road signs

Re:Diatoms, what cnan't they do? (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536177)

Mankind is the reflective stuff on road signs? Is that why they are red, or what they mean by sacrificing one, to save a thousand?

Re:Diatoms, what cnan't they do? (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536637)

Mankind is the reflective stuff on road signs?

Yes. Soylent Red steet signs are PEOPLE!

So are Soylent Yellow lane dividing stripes.

Re:Diatoms, what cnan't they do? (2, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536143)

I love nature - if mankind paid more attention to it

Mankind is of and surrounded by "nature". We can't we can't do anything *but* pay attention to nature.

Re:Diatoms, what cnan't they do? (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536339)

Indeed. So many of the useful things we now enjoy were based on either observing the natural world, or using things from pretty much directly (many medecines). It's distressing that we are destroying so many natural habitats, and associated species, that could some day be really helpful.

As yeah, they're often interesting and pretty, too...

Re:Diatoms, what cnan't they do? (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536423)

Pay more attention to nature?! You should try google fighting [googlefight.com] it before making those kinds of statements.

Re: more advanced than we are currently (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536479)

Apparently we once were... ever heard of Atlantis?

Re:Diatoms, what cnan't they do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27536573)

I pay lots of attention to nature. I have plenty of latina women nature walking around me and I pay lots of attention to their natural assets, on the hope we can engage on a natural process like reproduction...

Re:Diatoms, what cnan't they do? (1)

gbear711 (1321149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536575)

What they can't do nanotubes will.

Re:Diatoms, what cnan't they do? (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536695)

if mankind paid more attention to it we'd be so much more advanced than we are currently.

citation needed [wikipedia.org]

Re:Diatoms, what cnan't they do? (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536955)

Only if it produces lobster or King crabs.

Re:Diatoms, what cnan't they do? (1)

bensafrickingenius (828123) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537583)

They also produce around 1/3 of the world's oxygen supply. That doesn't make your list? sheesh.

hmm (-1, Offtopic)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535913)

Triple my orgasm efficiency, eh?

Re:hmm (1)

bFusion (1433853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536061)

I get e-mails like that all day... this isn't news!

Wait till PETA hears about this! (2, Funny)

Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535955)

Nasty humans exploiting those defenseless unicellular creatures!

Re:Wait till PETA hears about this! (3, Funny)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536801)

Nasty humans exploiting those defenseless unicellular creatures!

We'll call them Sea Puppies! Because who would want to hurt a sea puppy?!
 
/In case you don't get the joke [peta.org]

Re:Wait till PETA hears about this! (2, Insightful)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537255)

Oh dear lord. I don't call that a joke, I call that horrendous. The fact that the website seems to be targeting children gives me chills. If my son or daughter was suddenly upset with my fishing and hunting habit because PETA told her its mean to kill "sea kittens", I'm gonna be marching down to headquarters in my camouflage to take care of the problem MY way.

Fucking PETA. I'm going to eat a creek kitten right now. A trout. And, by the way, PETA, I paid $30 to be licensed to actually catch that trout, and I have a limit to how many I can take daily. The money I paid for that license is used to A. Figure out just how many fish I can catch without too much of an impact on the ecosystem, and B. hatch me new trout for every season.

And I'm gonna wash down my creek kitten meal with some milk. I'll do my best to make sure the milk comes from a cow whose offspring went to the veal factory, and for dessert I'm going to have bear-liver pate spread on bread made with yeast that were genetically engineered to feel the pain of being baked at 350F.

Re:Wait till PETA hears about this! (1)

marco.antonio.costa (937534) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536927)

Worse. They're making them eat titanium.

If that's not torture, I don't know what is. :D

Re:Wait till PETA hears about this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27537195)

PETA. A strange organization...

Do terrible things to defenseless animals and you are rewarded with naked women delivered right to your door, free of charge.

OK... (4, Funny)

Rollgunner (630808) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535999)

Diatoms that generate electricity... great! Who's in charge of soldering the leads to them so we can harness it ?

an industrial waste angle. (5, Interesting)

bombastinator (812664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536001)

titanium dioxide is the main pigment base in modern (but not pre-70's) white paint. While titanium is not a particularly cheap metal, paint chips are something that is actually hard to get rid of. I wonder if they could be fed on waste drywall stripped from homes. that's basically paint, paper, and gypsum.

Re:an industrial waste angle. (2, Interesting)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536219)

What gets done with that sort of thing currently?

Re:an industrial waste angle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27536355)

titanium dioxide is the main pigment base in modern (but not pre-70's) white paint. While titanium is not a particularly cheap metal, paint chips are something that is actually hard to get rid of. I wonder if they could be fed on waste drywall stripped from homes. that's basically paint, paper, and gypsum.

I think that's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure the underlying economics support it. If the efficiency of the new model is only three times more than the old, then presumably we'd need to get titanium dioxide at no more than 3 times the cost of silicon dioxide.

Silicon dioxide is sand. It's hard to compete with the price of something that is literally dirt cheap.

Re:an industrial waste angle. (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536645)

Silicon dioxide is sand. It's hard to compete with the price of something that is literally dirt cheap.

It's a lot easier if what you are competing with requires silicon dioxide to be melted before it can be used, which in turn requires a lot of energy.

Re:an industrial waste angle. (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537241)

Titanium oxides are also sand - not quite as plentiful as the silicon dioxide but very easy to get from sand by gravity separation. Another poster beat me to it here, but the only reason titanium is expensive is the amount of energy to reduce it to a metal.

Re:an industrial waste angle. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27537149)

Silicon dioxide is sand. It's hard to compete with the price of something that is literally dirt cheap.

Rutile and Leucoxene are two of the primary components of heavy mineral sand (eg. the magnetic black and at some beaches). The other main component of those sands is Ilmenite which is basically a compound of iron oxide and titanium oxide.

Seems like a good comparison to "dirt cheap" to me.

Re:an industrial waste angle. (3, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536415)

Titanium is expensive because the oxygen needs to be stripped off of the ore; titanium dioxide is far cheaper.

That doesn't mean that recycling paint is a bad idea, but the cost of titanium isn't going to drive it.

Re:an industrial waste angle. (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536977)

Florida has a pot load of homes with Chinese drywall that is a curse from hell. Getting rid of this stuff involves a rework of the entire mansion.

Well Duh (2, Funny)

sokoban (142301) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536077)

Of course diatoms are going to make better solar cells. I mean just look at the name, diatom is greek for two atoms. There's twice as many atoms there, so you'd guess they would make at least twice as good solar cells.

Re:Well Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27537207)

Now tell me about the word, kimono.

Re:Well Duh (1)

schmurry-mooseness (1439247) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537595)

The secret that they didn't tell us is that they are using triatoms.

What will the Libs do? (-1, Troll)

Clipless (1432977) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536079)

On the one side we have a better source of "green" energy
On the other side we are going to have to kill a hell of a lot of living creatures to get this performance boost.

This should be fun!

Re:What will the Libs do? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536123)

Oh noes, poor diatoms.

Gimme a break; even the PETA retards aren't that rabid.

Re:What will the Libs do? (2, Funny)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536451)

Not for diatoms, maybe, but for nano-sea-kittens?

Re:What will the Libs do? (4, Insightful)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536481)

"even the PETA retards aren't that rabid"

Wanna bet? :-p

Do your hands every get itchy . . . (1)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536133)

. . . from whacking at straw men?

Re:Do your hands every get itchy . . . (1)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536387)

Probably. And my eyes are getting sore from reading so many pointless strawmen on Slashdot. We'd all be alot more comfortable if the retards spewing these strawmen would just keep their inane thoughts to themselves.

Re:Do your hands every get itchy . . . (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536625)

hehe nothing says "correctness!" like a typo in the subject line...

3 times what? (2, Interesting)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536217)

Triple efficiency of what? I was only able to find this paragraph that put some numbers.

Dye-sensitized solar cells are favored as a thin-film material because they work in low-light conditions and are fabricated with environmentally benign materials compared to silicon solar cells. However, silicon cells have more than twice the efficiency, as much as 20 percent compared to less than 10 percent for dye-sensitized solar cells.

So Are we talking about 3x 20%? One could only wish. I think they mean 3x 10%, so 30% efficency, which is only 50% better than silicon solar cell. I guess that's still a big improvement.

Re:3 times what? (1)

Ragzouken (943900) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536239)

Solar cells are -20% efficient now?

Re:3 times what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27536719)

50% of 20% is 10%, so 20%+10% = 30%. You can only add the numbers directly if you say "percentage units". Ie if something is 50 percentage units more than something that is 20%, then it would be 70%.

Re:3 times what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27536345)

30% is huge. 30% is ~10x as efficient as the cheapest solar cells. This has the potential to be the cheapest process. Of course there is a question about lightfastness of the dye and the life of these materials. It also suggests an organic approach that can self assemble and self repair.

harvesting method? (4, Funny)

bugi (8479) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536259)

Do the diatoms die from shock?

this sounds like a harebrained scheme (0, Flamebait)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536317)

someone cooked up while being stoned

"so we feed the bugs the solar cell stuff man, and they just like use it make better solar cells. whoa"

and yet it works. amazing

all hail marijuana science

next up from stoned science: "dude, did you ever look at your hand, no, i mean really look at it?: curing phantom limb symptoms by really looking at your hand"

Lousy Headline (3, Informative)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536323)

Lousy headline here. They haven't tripled the efficiency of the already best solar cells out there, but just some over variant that wasn't so very efficient to start with.

Re:Lousy Headline (4, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536803)

In tripling the efficiency of the not-so-good ones, did they bring them within cost parity of the better ones? If the better ones were four times as good and cost four times as much, and now these are three times as good at double the cost, then that's a significant breakthrough.

Altered ...orgasm? (0, Offtopic)

letsgetsilly (933122) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536477)

Did anyone else read this incorrectly at first? I wanted to know what I needed to do to triple the power of my orgasm

Re:Altered ...orgasm? (2, Funny)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536527)

I'm sorry, but three times something you'll never have is still zero.

Re:Altered ...orgasm? (1)

letsgetsilly (933122) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536749)

Zing! Best "come"-back ever.

Sigh..with each post my maturity level decreases by 1.

Re:Altered ...orgasm? (1)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536869)

I know what you mean... the internet has ruined me forever.

I wonder.. (4, Interesting)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536483)

I wonder what effect this will have on evolutionary processes in the diatoms.

How will they respond to the titanium dioxide in an evolutionary context?

Just me? (0, Redundant)

user-hostile (1177051) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536487)

Anyone else read that as 'Altered Orgasm'?


U-H

Re:Just me? (1)

RazzleDazzle (442937) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537071)

First thing I thought was "Altered Beast".

RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE! And seriously, if you can be risen from the grave surely you make me better then a weasly wimp that takes 2 hits to knock a wobbly zombie head off before I get my POWER UP water bubbles.

Re:Just me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27537121)

Maybe... what's an orgasm?

Humans Who Don't Eat (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536525)

Maybe they can do the same with humans, and we no longer need to eat: just hang out in the sun. My wife keeps telling me that I'm as lazy as a plant anyhow. Might as well go all the way.

Re:Humans Who Don't Eat (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537585)

Reginald Bushroot [wikipedia.org] thought the same thing... look what happened to him.

I wonder (0, Offtopic)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536569)

how long before some idiot decides he can patent this idea.

Affected by temp? (0)

Zot (90080) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536577)

Since this is organic, how is it affected by temperature?
Will it have problems in freezing weather? What about hot weather?
Will animals want to eat it?
Will it biodegrade?

Re:Affected by temp? (1)

Sowelu (713889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536741)

FTA: "After removing the organic material from the shells, leaving behind the diatom's nanoscale skeletons composed of titanium dioxide, the researchers mixed the material in a dye."

It is an organic production method, but the final product is not organic. Still valid questions perhaps, but not because it's organic.

Anyone else notice? (4, Insightful)

javelinco (652113) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536611)

Did anyone else notice that the article didn't bother to compare the solar cells with, I don't know, other solar cells? They didn't talk about efficiency compared to any other existing method of making solar cells, except for the exact same methodology minus the diatoms.

Sounds like they are "fishing" for some more funding. Oh yes I can.

Re:Anyone else notice? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27537003)

FTFA:

Dye-sensitized solar cells are favored as a thin-film material because they work in low-light conditions and are fabricated with environmentally benign materials compared to silicon solar cells. However, silicon cells have more than twice the efficiency, as much as 20 percent compared to less than 10 percent for dye-sensitized solar cells.

In the low-light environmentally safe field, these are the "normal" solar cells.

If you are looking for the replacement power plant cells (toxic, always aligned with the sun, typically out in the middle of a desert to avoid clouds) these aren't the cells you want.

But if these are intended to be mass marketed and put all over the place, this is the type you want.

Re:Anyone else notice? (5, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537249)

There's nothing wrong with fishing for more funding.

The important thing isn't the efficiency, but the price/performance ratio.

1% efficient cells that are dirt cheap still aren't worth installing on your roof.
95% efficient cells at $50K per square meter are only of interest for satellite applications.

But, a 30% efficient cell that's reasonably cheap is a whole lot more interesting than a 40% one that costs 5 times as much. Taking a cheap 10% efficient tech and making it 3 times better without making it 3 times more expensive is a very useful thing.

Can someone say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27536703)

Shellular exploitation?

Altered Orgasms Triples Solar Cell Efficiency (1)

Sam36 (1065410) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536965)

LOL WUT

Biology - Underutilized (3, Interesting)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537277)

A lot of animals will alter chemicals in the same way regardless of whether it is natural to the organism.
Dr. Alexander Shulgin [wikipedia.org] talks about something similar [cognitiveliberty.org] , making a mushroom take care of his work.

However there is a very interesting study that took place in Leipzig about 15 years ago. Jochen Gartz, a mushroom explorer whom I know quite well, has done some fascinating studies with Psilocybe species by raising them on solid media containing strange tryptamines that are alien to the mushroom. Apparently the enzymes that are responsible for the 4-hydroxy group of psilocin are indifferent to what it is they choose to 4-hydroxylate. He has taken things like DPT or DIPT and put them in the growth media and the fruiting bodies that came out contain 4-hydroxy-DPT or 4-hydroxy-DIPT instead of psilocin.

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