Designing the greenest of green energy
Among those looking for solutions to our nation's energy problems, solar energy has always been a favorite alternative because sunshine is free and clean. One problem with this seemingly ideal solution has been the cost of the solar cells. They are not free by any means.
"The solar cells that are currently in the market are based on silicon and other inorganic materials and are expensive," says Bipin Shah, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, but he has a solution. "Organic materials, especially polymers, are an attractive and promising alternative, because they can substantially lower the cost of solar cells."
Organic materials, according to Shah, can be synthesized at a fraction of cost required to produce inorganic materials used in solar cells. This is currently being pursued in one of the research laboratories at the Department of Chemistry. Dr. Bipin K. Shah and his students are involved in the synthesis and study of smart electroactive polymers.
The materials synthesized in Dr. Shah's lab are tested in devices in collaboration with Prof. Yong Qiu's lab in Tsinghua University, China, which is popularly known as 'MIT' of China.
"World energy demand is growing by leaps and bounds," says Shah. "It is driven primarily by population growth and the rapid rise of populous economies like China, India, and Brazil."
Given the rapid depletion of non-renewable fossil fuels, development of efficient technologies and materials that can help utilize alternate, renewable energy sources-solar, wind, and so forth-is one of the most pressing issues facing research communities, and PSU is there.
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