New MIT project could result in cheap solar fordeveloping countries
That‟s the hope of MIT researcher Andreas Mershin, Ph.D., who‟s
developing a material that could bedelivered in a bag and then mixed withlocal plant materials like grass clippingsto create photovoltaics. Actually,Mershin wants to simplify it even more.
“Ideally, there is no bag at all, just a one page cartoon flyer with universally
You know, like an Ikea instruction manual.The result could be photovoltaics mixed together in a bucket, painted on a surfacearea, connected to wires and used. It could be huge in helping developing countriesand remote areas get access to energy for lighting, cooking and keeping food safe.The idea is based on work by Shuguang Zhang, a principal research scientist and
associate director at MIT‟s Center for Biomedica
l Engineering. Zhang derivedphotosystem-I (PS-I), the structures in plant cells that carry out photosynthesis andharnessed them to produce an electric current when exposed to light.
However, the effect worked only under laser. Mershin‟s work is in boosti
ng theperformance to usable levels, and he wants help.At this point he and his team have boosted performance to 0.1 percent conversionefficiency. But given the cheapness of materials, when the technology reaches 1percent to 2 percent efficiency, it will be good enough for commercial use.Mershin published his research in the open-access journal
“We hope to have our record beaten early and often by many labs around the
world. The real experiment here is to see the impact of the paper. The hope is to