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Link to Research Research Areas & Activities Solar Energy Rational Organic Semiconductor Material Design A Pathway Towards Breakthrough Performance in Solar Cells Design and Fabrication of the First All-Carbon-Based Solar Cell Upconverting Electrodes for Improved Solar Energy Conversion Advanced Electron Transport Materials for Application in Organic Photovoltaics (OPV) Ultra-High Efficiency Thermophotovoltaic Solar Cells Using Metallic Photonic Crystals as Intermediate Absorber and Emitter Nanostructured Materials for High-Efficiency Thin Film Solar Cells Photon Enhanced Thermionic Emission (PETE) for Solar Concentrator Systems Hot Carrier Solar Cell: Implementation of the Ultimate Photovoltaic Converter Plasmonic Photovoltaics Self-sorting of Metallic Carbon Nanotubes for High Performance Large Area Low Cost Transparent Electrodes Artificial Photosynthesis: Membrane-Supported Assemblies that Use Sunlight to Split Water Lateral Nanoconcentrator Nanowire Multijunction Photovoltaic Cells Molecular Solar Cells Advanced Materials and Devices for Low-Cost and High-Performance Organic Photovoltaic Cells Inorganic Nanocomposite Solar Cells by ALD Nanostructured Silicon-Based Tandem Solar Cells Photosynthetic Bioelectricity Nanostructured Metal-Organic Composite Solar Cells Ordered Bulk Heterojunction Photovoltaic Cells Biomass Energy Hydrogen Advanced Combustion CO2 Capture CO2 Storage Advanced Materials & Catalysts Advanced Coal Advanced Transportation Advanced Electric Grid Grid Storage Other Renewables Integrated Assessment Advanced Nuclear Energy Geoengineering Exploratory Efforts All Activities Analysis Activities Technical Reports
Solar Energy printer friendly format

An enormous flow of useful energy, thousands of times the current usage of humans, reaches the Earth's surface in the form of solar radiation. While a portion of this flow is used to power most processes in the natural world, a substantial amount could be collected for human utilization. Because conversion of solar energy does not directly involve exchanging matter with the environment, it is possible to use large amounts of solar energy without emitting greenhouse gases.

Though its potential is large, solar radiation has a relatively low energy density and is intermittent. The low energy density requires solar energy to be harvested over large areas, affecting the size and material intensity of collection systems. Modern solar energy collection devices are inefficient and expensive compared to other energy conversion technologies. These drawbacks cause direct solar energy to continue to be a minor component of the global energy system.

Research enabling higher efficiency and the use of cheaper materials could allow the solar energy resource to contribute significantly to a lower greenhouse gas emissions energy system. Advances in molecular-scale material engineering and direct biological conversion of solar energy to energy carriers may aid pursuit of this goal.

Investigators in Solar

Current Research Activities
Completed Research Activities Past Event
GCEP Solar Energy Workshop
October 18-19, 2004
> Selected Presentations
 
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