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Solar Breakthrough Could Provide Power Without Solar Cells

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the bright-ideas dept.

Power 223

An anonymous reader tips a University of Michigan news release about the creation of what's being called an "optical battery" that could lead to the use of solar power without traditional solar cells (abstract). Quoting: "Light has electric and magnetic components. Until now, scientists thought the effects of the magnetic field were so weak that they could be ignored. What Rand and his colleagues found is that at the right intensity, when light is traveling through a material that does not conduct electricity, the light field can generate magnetic effects that are 100 million times stronger than previously expected. Under these circumstances, the magnetic effects develop strength equivalent to a strong electric effect. 'This could lead to a new kind of solar cell without semiconductors and without absorption to produce charge separation,' Rand said. 'In solar cells, the light goes into a material, gets absorbed and creates heat. Here, we expect to have a very low heat load. Instead of the light being absorbed, energy is stored in the magnetic moment. Intense magnetization can be induced by intense light and then it is ultimately capable of providing a capacitive power source.'"

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Amazing.. (-1, Troll)

slashexagon (2042300) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831334)

Its just 0.01% efficiency [c2.com] I am worried about

Re:Amazing.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831384)

gotse link above mod down

Re:Amazing.. (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831500)

It's a wiki, for god's sake, couldn't you have deleted the image ref?

Re:Amazing.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831638)

I didn't know it was a wiki for all the goatse i was getting around my family; I for sure wasn't going to click that address again, I did notice there was a wiki in the link URL but that doesn't necessarily mean that it is a wiki, hope that makes sense.

Re:Amazing.. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831944)

I didn't know it was a wiki for all the goatse i was getting around my family

Stop giving the troll lulz! It's like a catnip to them!

Re:Amazing.. (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831394)

And it must be focused to an intensity of 10 million watts per square centimeter.

That ought to be enough to melt the glass, don't you think?

Re:Amazing.. (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831422)

I believe they also state in the article that they are looking for materials that require less energy density. Right now, it's not practical, like most pending technologies announced on Slashdot. :-) Never mind the cost, it just doesn't actually even work. :-)

Re:Amazing.. (0)

sserendipity (696118) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831658)

But it will! It will! In just ten years! Along with Artificial General Intelligence, and the cure for male pattern baldness!

Ten years! Ten years!

Still ten years!

Yes but no absorption (2)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831894)

And it must be focused to an intensity of 10 million watts per square centimeter.

That ought to be enough to melt the glass, don't you think?

Well it won't get hot if there is no absorption of the photons. Of course I don't see how it produces energy without absorbing the photons.

Basically the science writer was scrawling gibberish. There's probably something really interesting here but getting it from this article requires advanced degrees in Kremlinolgy and Tea Leaf reading to determine what the scientist really wanted to say.

My guess about what they are trying to say is that the energy is not being stored by promoting electrons from a valence band to a conduction band. It is some how being stored in a magnetic polarization of the media. I think it hints that this polarization can have an EMF to push mobile electrons.

I think the trick is this. Normally the magnetic fields from an E&M wave are not important but if you concentrate them enough you can extract energy. As long as you are also not doing electron-hole absorption to deplete it then this concentration can eventually become significant and the energy can be extracted in other ways.

Beyond that I have no guesses what the article might have wanted to say.

Re:Amazing.. (0)

ThatCopyright (2041834) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831472)

Skip Navigation CALL: (734) 764-7260 RELEASES EXPERTS NOTICIAS EN ESPAñOL photo services news staff BROADCAST U-M IN THE NEWS RESEARCH NEWS VP COMMUNICATIONS Marketing & Design Tips for faculty Publications UNIVERSITY RECORD RECOR

Appeal to authority. [wikipedia.org]

RD UPDATE MICHIGAN TODAY Social Networks FACEBOOK TWITTER YOUTUBE MOST EMAILED 412 MAYNARD STREET ANN ARBOR, MI 48109-1399 PHONE: (734)764-7260 FAX: (734) 764-7084 CURRENT | ARCHIVES Print Share * Faceboo

Appeal to popularity. [wikipedia.org]

ok * Email * Del.icio.us * Digg * Reddit * Twitter * Newsvine * What’s this? April 13, 2011 Solar power without solar cells: A hidd

Appeal to authority. [wikipedia.org]

den magnetic effect of light could make it possible ANN ARBOR, Mich.—A dramatic and surprising magnetic effect of light discovered by University of Michigan researchers could lead to solar power without traditional semiconductor-based sola

Appeal to popularity. [wikipedia.org]

ar cells. The researchers found a way to make an “optical battery,” said Stephen Rand, a professor in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Physics and Appl

Appeal to ignorance. [wikipedia.org]

lied Physics. In the process, they overturned a century-old tenet of physics. “You could stare at the equations of motion all day and you will not see this possibility. We’ve all been taught that this doesn’t happen,” said Rand, an a

Appeal to hypocrisy. [wikipedia.org]

author of a paper on the work published in the Journal of Applied Physics. “It’s a very odd interaction. That’s why it’s been overlooked for more than 100 years.” Li

Appeal to law. [wikipedia.org]

ight has electric and magnetic components. Until now, scientists thought the effects of the magnetic field were so weak that they could be ignored. What Rand and his colleagues found is that at the right intensity, when ligh

Appeal to law. [wikipedia.org]

ht is traveling through a material that does not conduct electricity, the light field can generate magnetic effects that are 100

Appeal to flattery. [wikipedia.org]

million times stronger than previously expected. Under these circumstances, the magnetic effects develop strength equivalent to a strong ele

Appeal to hypocrisy. [wikipedia.org]

ectric effect. “This could lead to a new kind of solar cell without semiconductors and without absorption to produce charge separation,” Rand said. “In solar cells, th

Red herring. [wikipedia.org]

he light goes into a material, gets absorbed and creates heat. Here, we expect to have a very low heat load. Instead of the light being absorbed, energy is stored in the magnetic moment. Intense m

Appeal to authority. [wikipedia.org]

magnetization can be induced by intense light and then it is ultimately capable of providing a capacitive power source.” What makes this possibl

Red herring. [wikipedia.org]

le is a previously undetected brand of “optical rectification,” says William Fisher, a doctoral student in applied physics. In traditional optical rect

Appeal to authority. [wikipedia.org]

tification, light’s electric field causes a charge separation, or a pulling apart of the positive and negative charges in a material. This sets up a voltage, similar to that in a

Straw man. [wikipedia.org]

a battery. This electric effect had previously been detected only in crystalline materials that possessed a certain symmetry. Rand and Fisher found that under the right circumstances and in other types of materials, the light’s magn

Appeal to ignorance. [wikipedia.org]

netic field can also create optical rectification. “It turns out that the magnetic field starts curving the electrons into a C-shape and they move forward a littl

Appeal to law. [wikipedia.org]

le each time,” Fisher said. “That C-shape of charge motion generates both an electric dipole and a magnetic dipole. If we can set up many of these in a row in a long fiber, we can make a huge voltage and by extracting that voltage, we can

Appeal to hypocrisy. [wikipedia.org]

n use it as a power source.” The light must be shone through a material that does not conduct electricity, such as glass. And it must be focused to an inten

Appeal to popularity. [wikipedia.org]

nsity of 10 million watts per square centimeter. Sunlight isn’t this intense on its own, but new materials are being sought that would work at lower intensities, Fisher said. “In our most rec

Appeal to ignorance. [wikipedia.org]

cent paper, we show that incoherent light like sunlight is theoretically almost as effective in producing charge separation as laser light is,” Fisher said. This new technique could make solar power cheaper, the researc

Red herring. [wikipedia.org]

chers say. They predict that with improved materials they could achieve 10 percent efficiency in converting solar power to useable energy. That’s equivalent to

Appeal to authority. [wikipedia.org]

today’s commercial-grade solar cells. “To manufacture modern solar cells, you have to do extensive semiconductor processing,” Fisher sa

Appeal to emotion. [wikipedia.org]

aid. “All we would need are lenses to focus the light and a fiber to guide it. Glass works for both. It’s already made in bulk, and it doesn’t require as much processing. Transparent ceramics might be even better.” In experiments t

Appeal to authority. [wikipedia.org]

this summer, the researchers will work on harnessing this power with laser light, and then with sunlight. The paper is titled “Optically-induced charge separation and terahertz emission

Red herring. [wikipedia.org]

in unbiased dielectrics.” The university is pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property. U-M Sustainability fosters a more sustainable world through collaborations across campus and beyond aimed at educating student

Straw man. [wikipedia.org]

ts, generating new knowledge, and minimizing our environmental footprint. Learn more at http://sustainability.umich.edu/ [umich.edu] . Related Links: College of Engineering Stephen Ra

Appeal to emotion. [wikipedia.org]

and Contact: Nicole Casal Moore Phone: (734) 647-7087 Or Contact: Catharine June Phone: (734) 936-2965 Related Categories: Environment Physics/

False dilemma. [wikipedia.org]

/Math Related Keywords: solar, optical, battery, magnet Search releases advanced search > search tips > Videos video page icon Podcasts Weekly podcasts Slideshows slideshow icon U-M Books U-M b

False dilemma. [wikipedia.org]

books Quicklinks Maps Key issues U-M Events Health System Athletics News Flint Dearborn Copyright © 2010 The Regents of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 USA 734-764-1817 Non-Discrimination Policy

Appeal to ignorance. [wikipedia.org]

I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (0)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831344)

for 30 years. New efficiency levels, solar paint, you name it, every time we're on the cusp of solving the energy problem. Every time, I get excited, and yet nothing ever really seems to come from it, to quote Tom Petty.
>
So call me jaded, but I'm going to wait until I see shipping products before I try to kick the football again, Lucy.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831400)

The trouble is that it's still cheap to get fossil fuels.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (3, Insightful)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831686)

Yes, what would be great is if fossil fuels were really expensive and we actually had an energy crisis. We won't get efficient panels until all the factories are shut down.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (3, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831896)

That's because they don't pay their due externalities [skepticalscience.com] .

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (2)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832200)

To paraphrase Ballmer: "Externalities! Externalities! Externalities!"

It's turtles all the way down, no one is paying all their due externalities.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831964)

That's not 'trouble'. That is the reason you get to sit around in an office all day writing bullshit on slashdot.

cutting out the middlemen (1)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832150)

Imagine a world where all the energy you'd ever need could be purchased by the kilowatt, for a reasonable cost - say, $0.50/watt. Suppose the most energy your house would ever draw is 10,000 watts (a hot day in Phoenix in July). For an initial outlay of "$5,000" (or so), the electrical needs of your home would be met forever.

Suppose this new understanding of the physics of light evolves to the point that it could power an automobile with just the surface area available on the roof.

Whatever will the millions of people who are employed by the energy industry do for work, when their jobs go *poof*?

Whatever will the hundreds of billionaires do with their "white elephant" investments in the energy industry? How will they maintain their status of living if their utility stocks can't pay dividends anymore?

The term "black swan" is applicable here. Most people here have so much faith in the "laws" of thermodynamics, that they can't imagine a world where that principle is just a special case of the universal law.

Re:cutting out the middlemen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35832292)

Whatever will the millions of people who are employed by the energy industry do for work, when their jobs go *poof*?

WORK IN THE NEWLY FORMED INDUSTRIES THAT PEOPLE CAN FINANCE WITH THEIR NEW SAVED CASH!!

Duh. These one-sided bullshit arguments always pop up, and they are a sure sign for stupidity. People don't lose jobs when industries dissolve. Because those that financed those industries, won't just accumulate their cash in their mattresses and never use it. There's something they want, and now they can buy it. So your task is to offer that. Easy.

Also, even if your industry dies, and you got no ability that allows you to do something else... so what? If there was life back in the days when oxygen was low in earth's atmosphere, that depended on that fact, and the high oxygen killed their species, then nobody asked whatever they would do. Sometimes your time is over. That is nothing bad or good. It's just how nature works. Adapt or accept it.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (5, Interesting)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831404)

It's awesome that they are (apparently) directly generating electricity. Much better than the quaint method of boiling water to turn turbines.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (5, Funny)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831566)

Yeah, it's amusing that nuclear power reactors can use the same method as a 1800's steam engine.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (2)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831706)

The focus fusion guys aren't. They believe they can use high energy helium nuclei can be used to create net-positive electricity induction. It would be cool to go off of steam.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831908)

... It would be cool to go off of steam.

I see what you did there.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832134)

Actually, you didn't because focus fusion's experiments require minimum temperatures of a half billion degrees kelvin to acheive z-pinch.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (1)

Slime-dogg (120473) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832370)

WOOOOOOOSH

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (1)

Steneub (1070216) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831772)

Which is the only reason I'm against Nuclear Power. Boiling water is stone age comparatively - no matter how efficient.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832252)

Comparitively to what? What better method do you have to turn heat into electricity?

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831668)

Some progress but we're still behind in many ways: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/02/quantum-photosynthesis/ [wired.com]

A leaf may not be as efficient as some solar panels when directly compared, but a leaf actually builds itself. So the leaf might be more analogous to quantum tech "solar panels" plus factories building the panels, converting the raw materials, etc.

Some plants can even grow from a single leaf.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831910)

Yeah, but wiring a leaf -- or a tree -- into the grid is kind of tricky.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831690)

If this technology proves useful it'll get bought up by an oil company & sealed away with patents.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831430)

Then shut up and go to the wal-mart technology aisle for your technology news fix next time.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831514)

Go to dow's website, you can order solar roof shingles today. Not what the article is about but a product that is surely less than 30 years old.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (1)

atheos (192468) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831594)

nope, still vaporware "WHEN CAN WE GET SOLAR SHINGLES? Although they’re not available for sale yet, POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles will be available in select U.S. markets by the end of 2011"

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831624)

Damn, I thought they had started shipping already. Sorry about that.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (2)

stg (43177) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831726)

Might be for Dow, but looking for a couple of minutes on Google shows several companies that sell them.

i.e.: a blog [umich.edu] from 2005/2006 and he had solar shingles back then.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (1)

raygundan (16760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832284)

Yeah, there's a solar-shingle install on a model home just down the street from us. I couldn't tell you the brand-- but they're very clearly available.

Satellites not shipping products ... (4, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831564)

I agree with the general idea that there are lots of exaggerated claims and promises. I view that as most likely coming from people looking for grants or venture capitalists to fund their projects.

However I would not keep an eye to the shipping products to judge feasibility, I would keep an eye on satellites. Break throughs like the one in this story might first appear in the environment of much higher solar intensity found in space.

Re:Satellites not shipping products ... (1)

dougmc (70836) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831782)

I would keep an eye on satellites. Break throughs like the one in this story might first appear in the environment of much higher solar intensity found in space.

Good plan.

The solar intensity isn't that much greater in space (20-30% more than noon day son at the equator?) but it's certainly a more difficult environment to deal with -- size and weight are at a premium, and the stuff has to keep working for a long time in a hostile environment, so they're going to want to send up the very best.

However, many breakthroughs are about price -- making solar panels (or whatever we use to create power from sunlight) cheaper. I wouldn't expect to see those up in space, as the cost of solar panels is a small factor compared to the cost of getting them up there (and the cost for space grade solar panels is massive!)

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831634)

I have a 5.5KW solar install and I find these stories "annoying" as well.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831742)

I have been reading about it for 30 years, too. .As opposed to you, every time I read a story on some new solar power technology, I think, "Just another exercise in futility" since once some engineer (or accountant) comes along and points out the small amount of energy any solar technology produces compared to the startup and maintenance costs, the developers are bitch-slapped upside the head with reality.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832246)

The average energy payback time for silicon is 1-3 years. For thin film, it's a couple months.

Try again.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (1)

zmooc (33175) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831980)

Nothing comes from it? During the last year, in most western countries below 50 degrees latitude, producing your own electricity using PV has become cheaper than electricity from the net if you count the taxes for the net electricity. And that's without government funding. Why did you think Google invests so much in that solar project of theirs? For their image? No, they're probably simply in it for the money.

The production capacity for PV panels already is 1/18th of the capacity we'd need for the entire world to produce all it's electricity with PV and replace all PV panels every 25 years.

But you're right; obviously new efficiency levels don't take off. Nor does solar paint. There's a reason for that and that's that only thing that counts is price per watt since at the moment we have more than enough surfaces exposed to the sun. Efficiency simply doesn't count. Most of those extremely efficient PV panels use rather rare materials; they're simply not worth the money nor will they ever be. Such things are interesting only in situations where weight (think sattelites) or efficiency (think airplanes or cars in the solar challenge etc.) matters a lot.

The problem isn't a lack of solar breakthroughs. We don't need them, the solar PV panels we have now are perfectly fine if not great. What we desperately need now is a breakthrough in energy storage so we can get through the night.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (3, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832108)

30 years ago, it took more energy to produce a solar panel then what it would produce in it's lifetime. Today that is not the case. That achievement alone is monumental. Your problem is that you can't see the connection between the announcement and the release of these products.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (2)

raygundan (16760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832130)

We've been over the energy- and cost-payback thresholds for solar power for quite some time. Even PV, which isn't quite as cost-effective as the solar thermal setups, has energy payback time in the 1-3 year range (depending on tech) and financial payback time well within warranty (with wide variation due to local insolation and electric rates).

Which is why we went ahead and stuck some on our roof. We're two years in, and four years from financial payback, and the system has a 25-year warranty. We're in a nearly best-case situation in Arizona, mind you-- our insolation is nearly double what it is in the midwest, and our primary load (air conditioning) tracks quite nicely with how sunny it is. But you can make your money back even in the pacific northwest.

The tipping point has come and gone, and it's only going to get gradually cheaper from this point on.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (5, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832184)

I've been reading about solar breakthroughs for 30 years

30 years ago, photovoltaic panels cost almost $40 per watt.
Today, the cheap ones are about $2 per watt.

Mods, how is ignorance insightful?

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (2)

raygundan (16760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832404)

He's hoping so hard for "breakthroughs" he's entirely missed four decades of gradual progress.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (1)

RicktheBrick (588466) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832262)

Go Michigan. This site http://peswiki.com/energy/News [peswiki.com] reported this story yesterday. It also reported a story from Michigan State University http://pesn.com/2011/04/14/9501810_Wave_Disk_Engine_Sips_Fuel/ [pesn.com] about a new type of engine. So two big announcement about energy and they are both developed in Universities in the state of Michigan.

Re:I've been reading about solar breakthroughs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35832468)

Ah where have you been? The most exciting one to me are the spray on coatings. Yeah they are less efficient but they cost radically less. The price per kilowatt is more in line with coal and other sources except after the payback they keep charging you for the coal and nuclear power. And yes they are producing the spray on panels right now so I'm assuming you don't watch the news. Even Slashdot covered it. Traditional cells have a limited potential because they are made in a similar process to what computer chips are made. The future is in the new concepts like spray on cells, solar windows and blinds and even solar driveways and walkways. we can provide most of our residential needs without taking up an extra sq ft of land.

Sounds promising (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831356)

New physics is *exactly* what's needed if the grandiose dreams of sci-fi are to become practical. This sounds like a tiny thing to allow cheaper solar power... What if a related effect then allows better fusion? Ah, then things are going to be good. We're running low on energy. We need this.

Re:Sounds promising (2)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831536)

Bingo. Virtually everything we have and use on a daily basis has started in this manner where someone finds some phenomena which can be honed, researched, and turned into a viable product used daily.

Solar is important. Since nuclear power is essentially set back at least a decade, anything that gets us free from coal and oil is a must have, not just for global warming, but to prevent countries having to go to war for their dino juice stakes.

What will be the key breakthrough that will change everything will be the ability to have room temperature superconductors on a large scale, like Niven's Ringworld. This would mean that a solar array in Mexico could power a brewery in Alaska on one set of wires without worrying about significant current loss.

Re:Sounds promising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831616)

"Bingo. Virtually everything we have and use on a daily basis has started in this manner where someone finds some phenomena which can be honed, researched, and turned into a viable product used daily."
There's the rub, *all* these phenomena you are thinking of were exploited within *years*, using early 20th century technology. The fact so little revolutionary science has been happening in decades really means it's the end for many, many things. No space colonies, no space elevators, and no asteroid mining either. The funny thing is, if we *did* find some energy / technology to allow that, well, we wouldn't NEED to!

Fun with Magnets! (2)

Linsaran (728833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831370)

So how long until this becomes practical on a personal scale? I really want to see someone's ipod solar edition get stuck to a metal guardrail until the sun goes down.

Re:Fun with Magnets! (2)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831446)

So how long until this becomes practical on a personal scale?

You must be new here.

The future's so bright... (4, Funny)

Itesh (1901146) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831378)

I gotta wear shades!

Re:The future's so bright... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831588)

Heh, just listened to that last night.

Re:The future's so bright... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831952)

YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAH

Its just a concept (-1, Troll)

slashpentagon (2042304) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831388)

And concepts are just that, they remain concepts like the other way to generate energy [tinyurl.com]

Re:Its just a concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831432)

Goatse or not?
I guess I'll never know, but all the details point to it.

Beyond the theoretical limit (5, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831392)

The press office at U. Michigan has gone a long way from what they actually did to what they are speculating might be theoretically be possible. What they actually did was to predict a theoretical effect which has not yet been demonstrated. The press office then suggests that if you concentrate sunlight by a factor of a hundred million-- about seven hundred times higher than the theoretical concentration limit-- that this as-yet-unidentified material might be able to convert the light into electricity.
This is a bit speculative. They've predicted an interesting theoretical effect. Let's keep it at that, which is a nice piece of work, and leave the speculation to science fiction writers (like me).

Re:Beyond the theoretical limit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831528)

The press office at U. Michigan has gone a long way from what they actually did to what they are speculating might be theoretically be possible. What they actually did was to predict a theoretical effect which has not yet been demonstrated. The press office then suggests that if you concentrate sunlight by a factor of a hundred million-- about seven hundred times higher than the theoretical concentration limit-- that this as-yet-unidentified material might be able to convert the light into electricity.
This is a bit speculative. They've predicted an interesting theoretical effect. Let's keep it at that, which is a nice piece of work, and leave the speculation to science fiction writers (like me).

It's interesting. So why don't you go ahead and do you.

Re:Beyond the theoretical limit (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831548)

You're right that the concentration factor is about 100 million times (from ~1000W/m^2 sunlight at the Earth's surface), which is crazy high, but I wasn't aware there was a theoretical concentration limit. Where did you get that from and what's the rationale for it?

Theoretical limit to solar concentration (4, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832256)

I wasn't aware there was a theoretical concentration limit. Where did you get that from and what's the rationale for it?

The theoretical concentration limit is straightforward-- it comes from the fact that the sun has a non-zero solid angle. Basically, a concentrator works by increasing the fraction of the sky that's filled by the sun, and the best you can do is to make the light come from the whole sky. (Well, there's also a factor of n, the refractive index).

The book Solar Electricity by T. Markvart gives a calculation (page 237-- it's available on googlebooks)

Re:Theoretical limit to solar concentration (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832318)

How one avoids instant vaporisation of any real world "cell" or ionization of most non-perfect vacuums, with such fluxes, would be in itself an... interesting dilemma.

Re:Beyond the theoretical limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831554)

"Winners set goals, not limits!" That's what they'll say to get funding.

more green vaporings (1, Flamebait)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831656)

First that vague press report on the purportedly revolutionary (no pun intended) wave disk engine [slashdot.org] from Michigan state, now this. Did some sort of pronouncement go out that Michigan universities need to flog green technology to overcome the abject failure of Detroit ?

Re:Beyond the theoretical limit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831708)

The article says they are using 10^7 W/cm^2. That should be enough for ionization by multi-photon absorption and some other effects of nonlinear optics. So I do not believe that they generated currents through the magnetic effect of light for now.

I wish I could access the paper.

Re:Beyond the theoretical limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35832116)

"leave the speculation to science fiction writers (like me)."

Oh, please link us to your website! Recommend us your best works!

Wait, what? (4, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831408)

Electromagnetism consists of equal parts electricity and magnetism?

You mean... That fool Maxwell was right?

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831760)

Electromagnetism consists of equal parts electricity and magnetism?

You mean... That fool Maxwell was right?

Damn straight! And he made a mean cup of coffee at his house, too!

Re:Wait, what? (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831872)

What happens to EM radiation if you remove the M? My physics is zero; I kinda get photon-electron pinball game, but if you bleed the magnetic power away, what happens to rest of it?

[ps. sorry if my tourettes addled puppy chimes in, he seems to have lost his way home and soiled himself]

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Josh Triplett (874994) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832106)

You can't have E without M. Magnetism just comes from relativistic effects on electricity. Take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativistic_electromagnetism [wikipedia.org] for an example.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832382)

Isn't a static electric charge an example of E without M?

I know you can't have a magentic field without an electric field, but is that really a two-way relationship?

Interesting, but doesn't seem very practical (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831416)

If you have 10 million watts per square centimetre of light focussed on something there are far more efficient ways to convert it into useful power.

Re:Interesting, but doesn't seem very practical (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832120)

If you have 10 million watts per square centimetre of light focussed on something there are far more efficient ways to convert it into useful power.

Yeah, the something will suddenly be a high temperature gas suitable for boiling water or even blowing itself through a turbine.

Re:Interesting, but doesn't seem very practical (1)

slinches (1540051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832250)

Yes, like igniting a fuel pellet in a fusion reactor.

Efficiency vs cost. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831424)

Nice if they can get it to work. The main hurdle is finding a cheap enough material with the right properties. Also they claim it may "up-to 10%" efficient, the best solar cells today are close to 40%, though massively expensive. But great if they can make it work, and make it cheap.

Hmmm. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831444)

Could this be placed in marijuana grow houses to harness some of the wasted energy to power a small meth lab?

Re:Hmmm. (2)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831556)

Could this be placed in marijuana grow houses to harness some of the wasted energy to power a small meth lab?

Meth labs power themselves... with fire...

Magnetic Fields ... (1)

xleeko (551231) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831454)

So do we now have to ask "Solar cells - How the f*ck do they work??"

Re:Magnetic Fields ... (1)

philmarcracken (1412453) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831476)

fking miracles

Don't hold your breath. (4, Interesting)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831480)

This is still all theoretical, and to the best of my understanding has not been verified by actual working prototypes.

I'm really surprised that the article didn't mention "5 years" as a time scale for when this will be viable, since that's the typical duration mentioned in these sort of articles --- far enough in the future that most will have forgotten about it by the time we get there, but near enough to still feel like it's worth anticipating (in other words, the perfect length of time for a project that needs funding to continue, but may never actually produce desired results).

Oblig xkcd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831788)

I'm really surprised that the article didn't mention "5 years" as a time scale for when this will be viable, since that's the typical duration mentioned in these sort of articles --- far enough in the future that most will have forgotten about it by the time we get there, but near enough to still feel like it's worth anticipating (in other words, the perfect length of time for a project that needs funding to continue, but may never actually produce desired results).

Researcher Translation [xkcd.com]

Solar is the future (-1, Troll)

slashtriangle (2042312) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831484)

But we can't get it, because physics are against us [goo.gl]

Re:Solar is the future (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831542)

I don't see what blackholes have to do with this.


I did not visit, but this is a GOATSE link.

Re:Solar is the future (0)

slashtriangle (2042312) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831572)

Well, black body absorbs solar energy with highest efficiency

Solar power (2)

kehren77 (814078) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831530)

Sure it's all great now, but what happens when we run out of sunlight?

Re:Solar power (3, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831596)

Wait till morning.

Re:Solar power (1)

cobrausn (1915176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831966)

You mean when the machines blot out the sun to deprive us of solar power?

Wait, isn't that backwards? I'm confused.

Rand? Did I see the word Rand? OMG it is John. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831618)

OMG, OMG. So who found this thing? John Galt?

Magnetic fields can be ignored (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831664)

That explains why the loop antenna [wikipedia.org] on my old TV never worked!

Kudos to the University of Michigan! (1)

PinchDuck (199974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831682)

This looks like some really promising work. I still want to crush your football team on the gridiron, though. 3 Cheers for U of M Physics! 3 Cheers for Rich Rodriguez!

locksmith (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831712)

Read more: locksmith [locksmithinmiami.com]

10 Million Watts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35831724)

"...it must be focused to an intensity of 10 million watts per square centimeter. Sunlight isn’t this intense on its own, but new materials are being sought that would work at lower intensities, Fisher said."

Something tells me this isn't going to come to fruition anytime soon.

Pursuing patent protection (1)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831778)

This is what patents are for. Not that getting money from you clicking on my button.

Solar thermal competition? (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831884)

At 10% effeciency I'm not understanding the appeal.

The light has to be concentrated which means tracking electronics, hardware, mirrors, maintenance..etc.

You can get about 30% effeciency today by pointing concentrated solar energy at a stirling engine.

The effect itself is more intersting to me than the possible use in solar energy.

Re:Solar thermal competition? (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832194)

It is the simplicity. Both manufacturing and maintenance. Current solar panels top out at 19% efficiency, but take a whole host of environmentally bad chemicals and processes to make. Then they degrade over time. This suggests common glass could power the world.

You approach 30% on a sterling engine, with a perfect source and sync. But you have moving components that will wear out and need maintenance.

Basically, imagine a piece of glass with integrated lens with wires on it - solid state, reliable, durable, and cheap.

Pics (1)

surveyork (1505897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35831936)

or it didn't happen. A working prototype is fine too.

So... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832070)

...how long before we never hear about this one again?

Energon Cubes (1)

PrimalChrome (186162) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832090)

All hail our decepticon overlords!

None of this is worth crap until (1)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35832152)

..It can be implemented main-stream, for less cost and be more efficient that current processes.  Until then this is all just intellectual masturbation.

Incredible.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35832352)

It is an interesting invention..I have sharing also about Solar cells on my site.. I wait you my blog:http://interestingengineering.blogspot.com See you

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