NANOTECHNOLOGY – Energys Holy Grail Artificial Photosynthesis


 

 

 

What is Nanotechnology?
A basic definition: Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. This covers both current work and concepts that are more advanced.
In its original sense, ‘nanotechnology’ refers to the projected ability to construct items from the bottom up, using techniques and tools being developed today to make complete, high performance products.

Nanotechnology (sometimes shortened to “nanotech”) is the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. The earliest, widespread description of nanotechnology referred to the particular technological goal of precisely manipulating atoms and molecules for fabrication of macroscale products, also now referred to as molecular nanotechnology. A more generalized description of nanotechnology was subsequently established by the National Nanotechnology Initiative, which defines nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers.

This definition reflects the fact that quantum mechanical effects are important at this quantum-realm scale, and so the definition shifted from a particular technological goal to a research category inclusive of all types of research and technologies that deal with the special properties of matter that occur below the given size threshold. It is therefore common to see the plural form “nanotechnologies” as well as “nanoscale technologies” to refer to the broad range of research and applications whose common trait is size. Because of the variety of potential applications (including industrial and military), governments have invested billions of dollars in nanotechnology research. Through its National Nanotechnology Initiative, the USA has invested 3.7 billion dollars. The European Union has invested 1.2 billion and Japan 750 million dollars

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Wastewater technology to assist nuclear clean-up


Wastewater technology to assist nuclear clean-up

The Virtual Curtain technology can turn toxic wastewater into near rainwater quality. Image: The nuclear power station at Chernobyl, Ukraine. Credit: Timm Seuss

West Australian researchers have developed an advanced water decontamination process that turns toxic wastewater into near rainwater quality and which they believe could help Japan in its extensive clean-up of nuclear contaminated waters.

CSIRO scientist Grant Douglas visited the country in September and with assistance from Austrade has submitted a proposal to use CSIRO’s Virtual Curtain technology for widespread remediation work in Japan, estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

He says water tanks, flooded buildings and basements in Fukushima remain highly contaminated after the meltdown of the power plant nuclear reactors in 2011.

“They need to clean those up and that’s proving difficult because they have such a wide range of contaminants,” Dr Douglas says.

“They can’t generally employ one technique—they need multiple ones, whereas our technology has the advantage that it can clean up a lot of contaminants in one step.”

Dr Douglas says the first full scale application of the technology in Australia began in late September at a toxic mine site in Queensland.

“This is a severe environmental liability at the moment; what we’ll be doing is treating water that’s highly acidic and full of all sorts of toxic metals metalloids, arsenic and other things,” he says.

“The water we produce from that is virtually drinking-quality except for the salt level.

“That is then going through a reverse osmosis plant to remove the salt and that effluent – which will be released into a river – is actually going to be better quality than is now in the river. It’ll be like rainwater.”

The Virtual Curtain technology is patented by CSIRO and made commercial through the company Virtual Curtain Limited.

It uses hydrotalcites; layered minerals consisting of aluminium and magnesium-rich-layers, separated by interlayers of anions (negatively charged molecules like sulphate).

During the process the aluminium and magnesium can be replaced by a range of other metals like copper and lead as the hydotalcites form. The metals and anions are then trapped and easily removed from wastewater as a solid.

Dr Douglas says lime has been used traditionally to decontaminate wastewater but among its drawbacks it requires a number of complex steps and produces enormous amounts of sludge.

“The technique I have produces just 10 per cent or less of the sludge that lime does which is then far more concentrated as a result, and has potential to turn what was back into an ore; they can re-mine it.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-11-wastewater-technology-nuclear-clean-up.html#jCp

Important mechanism behind nanoparticle reactivity discovered


Mix id32807Improving the understanding of – particularly those of iron and silver – is of key importance to scientists because of their many potential applications. For example, iron and are considered important in fields ranging from clean fuel technologies, high density data storage and catalysis, to water treatment, soil remediation, targeted drug delivery and cancer therapy.

The research team, which also included scientists from the University of Leicester, the National Institute for Materials Science, Japan and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, used the unprecedented resolution attainable with aberration-corrected scanning transmission to study the oxidisation of cuboid iron nanoparticles and performed strain analysis at the atomic level.

Lead investigator Dr Roland Kröger, from the University of York’s Department of Physics, said: “Using an approach developed at York and Leicester for producing and analysing very well-defined nanoparticles, we were able to study the reaction of metallic nanoparticles with the environment at the and to obtain information on strain associated with the oxide shell on an iron core.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-11-important-mechanism-nanoparticle-reactivity.html#jCp

 

The scientists used a method known as Z-contrast imaging to examine the oxide layer that forms around a nanoparticle after exposure to the atmosphere, and found that within two years the particles were completely oxidised.

Corresponding author Dr Andrew Pratt, from York’s Department of Physics and Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science, said: “Oxidation can drastically alter a nanomaterial’s properties – for better or worse – and so understanding this process at the nanoscale is of critical importance. This work will therefore help those seeking to use metallic nanoparticles in environmental and technological applications as it provides a deeper insight into the changes that may occur over their desired functional lifetime.”

The experimental work was carried out at the York JEOL Nanocentre and the Department of Physics at the University of York, the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester and the Frederick-Seitz Institute for Materials Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The scientists obtained images over a period of two years. After this time, the nanoparticles, which were originally cube-shaped, had become almost spherical and were completely oxidised.

Professor Chris Binns, from the University of Leicester, said: “For many years at Leicester we have been developing synthesis techniques to produce very well-defined nanoparticles and it is great to combine this technology with the excellent facilities and expertise at York to do such penetrating science. This work is just the beginning and we intend to capitalise on our complementary abilities to initiate a wider collaborative programme.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-11-important-mechanism-nanoparticle-reactivity.html#jCp

 

 

Renewable energy for desalination: An interview with HE Dr Abdulrahman Al-Ibrahim


Water 2.0 open_img

This feature news is part of Singapore International Water Week’s (SIWW) series of one-on-one interviews with global water industry leaders, Conversations with Water Leaders. In this edition, HE Dr Abdulrahman M Al-Ibrahim, Governor of Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, shares with OOSKAnews correspondent, Renee Martin-Nagle, his thoughts on renewable energy for desalination and the provision of water for all.

HE Dr Abdulrahman M Al-Ibrahim elaborates on how he combined desalination with renewable energy, SWCC’s strive towards operational excellence, environmental responsibility and more.

To start, would you mind speaking about the focus that is being placed by Saudi Arabia on solar energy for desalination?

Certainly. Recently the SWCC board of directors adopted a series of strategic goals, one of which is operational excellence. Part of that operational excellence is to enrich our portfolio of energies, including renewable energies like solar, photovoltaic, thermal, wind, geothermal, and other renewable energies. In the recent past we initiated construction of the first solar desalination plant in Al-Khafji that will produce 30,000 cubic meters per day of desalinated water and is operated by photovoltaic cells with an RO [reverse osmosis] desalination system. The King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) was the leader of this program, and we partnered with KACST to build, manage and maintain the plant throughout its life. We are investigating a more rigorous program to produce around 300,000 cubic metres per day with renewable energies. So, to summarize, renewable energy is not a luxury for us.  It is part of our strategy, and it is a means to enrich our portfolio of energy so that we will have the right mix for our operation.

SA Desal Plant

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has the most installed capacity for desalination in the world and currently it is planning to export its technical know-how regionally and internationally. Image: Power Insider Asia

My understanding is that the energy output of solar may not be adequate for some of the older desal technologies such as multi-stage flash.  Is that why you are using it for reverse osmosis?

I’m sure if we want to couple renewable energy with desalination, we will have to look at different technologies and pick the ones that are the best match, which could be Multi-Effect Distillation (MED), RO hybrid or Tri-hybrid. To start with, we selected RO for the Al-Khafji plant because as a rule of thumb, RO requires the least energy, but on the west coast we are investigating other technologies, such as Tri-hybrid. It’s partially an MED as well as an RO plant with Nano-Filtration (NF) and other means. We are devoting R&D to finding the right technologies to adapt to the renewable energies available locally.

All the projects I am currently overseeing are my favorite, but I’ll tell you about my dream. My dream is to have a highly reliable and very efficient desalination plant that becomes a model not just for our kingdom, Saudi Arabia, but a model worldwide.

Saudi Arabia has the most installed capacity for desalination in the world.  As you do research and gather technologies, does the Kingdom intend to become an exporter of technology as well as an importer?

Yes, we do. For the past 30 or 40 years, the ultimate goal of SWCC was to produce desalinated water to meet the needs of the Kingdom. Now we want to go beyond that goal and export know-how regionally as well as internationally. Our roadmap is to be able to develop know-how, intellectual property, prototypes and patents locally. In the past three or four years, we have come to own some patents, and we want to double that number in the next couple of years.

Would you give me an example of the latest technologies that you are exploring?

Sure. SWCC, together with the Water Re-use Promotion Center of Japan and Sasakura Company, conducted a joint research study to develop a fully integrated NF/SWRO/MED tri-hybrid system. This desalination system enabled us to reduce significantly the water production cost per unit, which we see as a break-through. Subsequently, a number of patents have been registered in Saudi Arabia, Japan and China.

How did you personally get involved in desalination?

I’m a graduate of the mechanical engineering program in Jeddah, in the area of thermal science, and at that time, we were required to study two courses in desalination and do two internships in industrial facilities. My second internship was in a small Multi-Stage Flash (MSF) plant in Jeddah, and, after doing a research project, it became my dream to combine desal with renewable energy. Luckily, in around 1986, I also worked with a very small solar desalination plant in Yanbu that used a technology called thermal freezing, where you freeze the seawater using an absorption system to reach almost zero degrees and then recover fresh water from the system. I went on to get a Master’s degree and a PhD in thermal engineering and renewable energies, and moved my expertise to energy efficiency. After 20 or 30 years, combining desal and renewable energy is becoming a reality instead of a pilot.

What changes have you seen in the past 20-25 years since you first got involved with desal? 

Almost two months ago we launched a new plant in Jeddah called Jeddah RO-3 that operates on reverse osmosis. This plant was built on a site where a thermal plant was in operation since the late 70s and produced 40,000 cubic metres. We demolished the old plant and built a new one on the same footprint that now produces 240,000 cubic metres. So in a 25- or 30-year span we were able to increase production by six times over.

The second thing is our local expertise here in Saudi Arabia. In the past, we had to hire multiple international companies to be able to operate our plants and produce the water. In those days, you would seldom find a Saudi person operating or maintaining the plant.  Now, Saudi locals perform 91 per cent of all our operations as engineers, technicians and managers who understand the technologies and who are able to diagnose and fix problems. We admire and respect all international expertise and we utilize it to the best that we can. At the same time, we feel that we are ready now to stretch our arms to regional and international markets and spread our expertise in terms of technologies, IP and manufacturing facilities. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has invested in desal, and we hope that it will add value to our GDP.

What will be the criteria for choosing desal technologies in the future?

Two factors will be the criteria for selecting technology — energy consumption and reliability. Membrane technology will be able to attain energy efficiency very well. However, we need to be able to assist it with more devices to make it more reliable. If the price of energy is important in your area, then you need to give it more weight. If reliability is more of an issue, then you give it more weight.

As much as we care about producing water, we also care about the environment, for multiple reasons. The primary factor is that we live in and share the same area, so we need to protect the environment next to us.  Secondly, our intake is affected by its surrounding area, and therefore we should not spoil the water next to the plant itself.

What is the problem with membrane reliability?

Membrane technology is very sensitive to the quality of water it receives. For example, if there is red tide, or an algae bloom, or any other material in the seawater, such as a high Silt Density Index (SDI), you would need to shut down the plant to preserve your membrane, or augment your plant with pre-treatment facilities to clean the water before you introduce it to the membrane. On the other hand, although thermal is very expensive and utilizes maybe two or three times as much energy as membrane technology, it may tolerate any water. Also, to be able to build membrane technology, you need to have a pilot plant for a year or two at the same location and study the water carefully to select the most appropriate pre-treatment process.

SWCC uses seawater for its operations.  What you do with the brine that is left over?

As much as we care about producing water, we also care about the environment, for multiple reasons. The primary factor is that we live in and share the same area, so we need to protect the environment next to us.  Secondly, our intake is affected by its surrounding area, and therefore we should not spoil the water next to the plant itself. We perform multiple procedures so as not to intervene with the eco-system next to the plant. We do this at SWCC and in any saline water industrial facility. For example, one standard procedure is to withdraw up to ten times the amount of water that you intend to desalinate, and discharge the extra with the brine to reduce the effect of high temperature or high salinity. We also measure the temperature of the intake and the discharged brine to make sure we protect the ecosystem next to the plant.

The newly commissioned plant in Jeddah – the Jeddah RO-3 – was built with multiple advanced measures to protect the environment –not only water intake and the brine but also energy efficiency within the building. We reduced the energy consumption through the cooling grade and the lighting system, and we are applying to multiple professional organizations to receive certificates of energy efficiency in the new building as well as in the plant.

There is a desalination plant that is constructed on a floating platform in Yanbu.  Would you describe it?

It’s one of the unique features that we have in Saudi Arabia. We have two barges, each one able to produce 25,000 cubic metres per day, that move on the west coast from Yanbu to Shuaibah to Shuqaiq or anywhere else to augment the production of a desal plant. So we move the barge from one location to the other according to the needs that may occur. The barges are stand-alone, with their own power supplied by liquid fuel.

I always hesitate to ask a parent which of his children is the favorite, but would you tell me if there are any projects that are your favorite?

All the projects I am currently overseeing are my favorite, but I’ll tell you about my dream. My dream is to have a highly reliable and very efficient desalination plant that becomes a model not just for our kingdom, Saudi Arabia, but a model worldwide. I want it to become a benchmark.

What final message would you like to leave with our readers?

The people of Saudi Arabia and the employees of the Saline Water Conversion Corporation are eager to produce water to serve the needs of anyone who lives on the planet earth. And we’re extremely happy to share our technologies and information with anyone who shares the same interest values. We believe, as the people of Saudi Arabia, that water is a commodity that should be made available to anyone who lives on the planet, regardless of his faith, regardless of his type, whether he’s human or animal or anyone else. The commercial aspect is an instrument to enable us to provide water that is necessary for life on earth. I totally believe that water is a value-related issue. It’s not a luxury item that needs to be looked at from a commercial business point of view. It’s something that has to be made available for everyone, so that anyone who lives on earth will have adequate quantity and quality of water.

NANOTECHNOLOGY – Photons to Electricity Nano Based Solar Cells


longpredicte“Dr. Sargent provides us with a very detailed presentation on integrating ‘nanotechnology’ and photovoltaics. It is well recognized the ‘solar energy model’ will require advancements to lower manufacturing (production) costs and …

… “harvest” with greater efficiencies the available (and abundant) renewable source of energy from our sun.”  –  GenesisNanoTechnology

 

 

Published on Jul  9, 2013 

What is Nanotechnology? A basic definition: Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. This covers both current work and concepts that are more advanced. In its original sense, ‘nanotechnology’ refers to the projected ability to construct items from the bottom up, using techniques and tools being developed today to make complete, high performance products.

Nanotechnology (sometimes shortened to “nanotech”) is the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. The earliest, widespread description of nanotechnology referred to the particular technological goal of precisely manipulating atoms and molecules for fabrication of macroscale products, also now referred to as molecular nanotechnology.

 

A more generalized description of nanotechnology was subsequently established by the National Nanotechnology Initiative, which defines nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers.

This definition reflects the fact that quantum mechanical effects are important at this quantum-realm scale, and so the definition shifted from a particular technological goal to a research category inclusive of all types of research and technologies that deal with the special properties of matter that occur below the given size threshold.

 

It is therefore common to see the plural form “nanotechnologies” as well as “nanoscale technologies” to refer to the broad range of research and applications whose common trait is size. Because of the variety of potential applications (including industrial and military), governments have invested billions of dollars in nanotechnology research. Through its National Nanotechnology Initiative, the USA has invested 3.7 billion dollars. The European Union has invested 1.2 billion and Japan 750 million dollars

 

Private investment in renewable energy eyed for reconstruction of quake-hit areas


nanomanufacturing-6Governors and business leaders in northern Japan have agreed on the need to attract private-sector investment in growth fields, such as the most advanced renewable energies, and to promote industrial development and local revitalization as part of efforts to rebuild regions hit hard by the March 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster.

They shared the view at a meeting held in the city of Fukushima on Nov. 8 by a forum of governors from eight prefectures — Hokkaido, the six prefectures of Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Yamagata, Miyagi and Fukushima in the Tohoku district, and Niigata Prefecture — as well as regional business groups.

The participants discussed what is necessary to rebuild disaster-hit regions.

Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato told the session that the Fukushima prefectural government considers development of renewable energy sources to be a pillar of its reconstruction efforts.

Fukushima Prefecture will aim at taking the lead in the field of renewable energy development,” Sato said. “To that end, how to connect (the energy) with industries for industry accumulation is a pressing task,” he said.

A New Hub for Solar Tech Blooms in Japan


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8Tilting Toward Solar in Yokohama

Photograph by Sankei via Getty Images

 

 

1-solar-techno-park-japan2_46148_600x450

What appears to be an array of metal flower petals is not an art installation but part of a cutting-edge solar-power system meant to address the critical power shortage Japan now faces in the wake of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

The disaster, which triggered a crippling nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, reignited worldwide debate about the safety of nuclear power and forced Japan to reevaluate its energy strategy.

(Related Photos: “The Nuclear Cleanup Struggle at Fukushima“)

Of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors, 52 have been shut down for maintenance; the remaining two are set to go offline this spring. The reactors are likely to remain inoperative while Japan’s central and local governments assess which (if any) of them can be restarted, leaving the country to make up for a 30-percent loss in power generation.

(Related: “Energy-Short Japan Eyes Renewable Future, Savings Now“)

Rising electricity prices and limited supply threaten to hamper the recovery for manufacturers. So it makes sense that Solar Techno Park, the first solar-power research facility focusing on multiple technologies in Japan, is operated not by the government but by a unit of the Tokyo-based JFE, the world’s fifth-largest steelmaker. Given the energy-intensive nature of steel production, reliable power will be key to the future of Japan’s steel industry. The facility, which opened in October last year, is developing advanced technology in solar light and thermal power generation that it aims to apply both in Japan and overseas.

Located along the industrial coast of the port city of Yokohama, the Solar Techno Park aims to achieve a combined output capacity of 40 to 60 kilowatts this spring. The facility’s most notable apparatus is the HyperHelios (seen here), a photovoltaic system consisting of rows of heliostats with mirrors that follow the sun and a receiving tower. Two types of solar thermal power systems are also being developed at the park.

Yvonne Chang

Novel-Nano Encapsulation Technologies: A Good Business?


Q: Is there a market for novel encapsulation technologies?

The Encapsulation Paradox

In the past few years, novel encapsulation technologies have become a hot topic in the thin-film, printed end electronics communities. Many of the latest materials platforms for displays, lighting and solar panels appear to require higher performance encapsulation technologies. And in response to this apparent need, new alternatives have appeared in the marketplace; notably multilayer barrier films and conformally deposited coatings.

This sounds like the makings of a good business case. Unfortunately, recent history seems to be saying otherwise. The start-up firms that have believed in this business case have not been a happy crew. Symmorphix and (quite recently) Cambridge Nanotech have gone out of business.

Vitex has been swallowed up by Samsung. And other startups are confessing that they are no longer sure how they are ever going to make big money out of their clever encapsulation ideas.

So here is the encapsulation paradox. Some of the most exciting new thin-printed-organic technologies apparently need new kinds of encapsulation. Yet there is good empirical evidence that firms cannot make money providing these novel species of encapsulation. What is missing from this picture?

“Too Late,” The Market Cried

NanoMarkets’ analysis suggests that a big part of the problem here is the big contrast between the apparent size of the novel encapsulation market and the time that it will take to emerge. NanoMarkets has carried out detailed forecasts of the markets for encapsulation in both the OLED and thin-film photovoltaics sectors and the results are rather illustrative in this regard.

Glass endures:

At first blush, the total addressable market (TAM) for encapsulants looks quite respectable. Our projections indicate that materials for encapsulation of OLEDs and TFPV can reach about $770 million by 2015 and about $2 billion by 2019. These amounts should be more than enough to put a smile on the face of any advanced materials entrepreneur. However, there is a world of difference between the theoretically addressable market for a new material and the market that is actually serviceable.

The NanoMarkets view is that rigid glass is going to be very difficult to dislodge in the encapsulation marketplace and will be used wherever it can be used. Because of this NanoMarkets estimates the market share for non-glass encapsulation can grow from about 11 percent today, to only about 21 percent and 27 percent in 2015 and 2019, respectively.

So one question that has to be asked here is: Have the providers of the latest and greatest encapsulation materials confused the whole market for encapsulation with the part of the market they can actually reach? Could it be that their business models are based on a false idea of what the revenue potential of this market actually is?

For if one takes glass technologies out of the equation, then the markets for encapsulation suddenly look a lot less attractive. Without glass, the 2013 market value of novel encapsulation materials multilayer barrier films and conformally deposited coatings is under $2 million in OLEDs and just over $50 million in PV applications. And these market values are only expected to grow to about $135 million and $410 million, respectively, by 2019. These are not revenue numbers that can expect to entice investment into this sector.

This analysis takes on an even more cautionary tinge, if one takes into consideration the fact that NanoMarkets doesn’t even expect to achieve this combined figure of around $445 million, unless the firms in this space can concurrently improve performance (especially in the OLED sector) and reduce costs, which will be very difficult.

In other words, what we are looking at here is a market where market expectations are just not that great but the risks are fairly high. And glass systems are meeting encapsulation requirements now, will continue to do so for the near- and mid-term, and glass companies will make continual improvements to their products, too!

Time, time, time:

But the truly damning aspect of NanoMarkets’ projections in this area is not the long-term revenue projections and certainly not the technology risk, but the fact that it is going to take a long time to reach a market that any outside investor is going to treat seriously.

In the current environment, any firm or individual putting money into the encapsulation business is going to have to wait quite a few years before they will see any real return and they will have to make their investment decisions based on discounting future cash flows with high numbers for inflation, political risk, etc., etc.

In fact, NanoMarkets is already hearing from the encapsulation start-ups that this issue is becoming one that is of serious concern. What these firms are actually saying is that they can’t charge prices high enough to stay profitable because end-user markets are too cost-sensitive, and thus the novel encapsulation technologies have been unable to gain a foothold in the market. They also say that they can’t yet generate cash flows large enough to grow organically and build large-scale manufacturing plants for their new materials, thereby reducing the cost through economies of scale.

But turn this tale of woe around and an investment story emerges. The encapsulation firms can’t get profitable because they can’t find investors who can relieve them of the necessity of having to charge a price for their materials that reimburses them for CapEx and R&D in a short period of time. Such investors would also let them build capacity and tap into economies of scale in advance of volume demand.

A full-scale manufacturing plant for advanced encapsulation systems, would surely cost tens of millions of dollars and take many years to recover. Scaling up is a shaky value proposition, and few investors are willing to take the risk!

What is to be Done? Four Strategies

None of this is encouraging. And it cannot help but leave encapsulation companies wondering whether they should “die well or die badly.” Beyond hyperbole, there are, NanoMarkets believes, four options available to today’s generation of novel encapsulation companies.

Get out now:

Some firms may opt out of the business altogether. NanoMarkets believes that there will be more market exits and bankruptcies by small firms in the encapsulation business during the 2013 and 2014. Few encapsulation firms are likely to choose this option willingly, and for obvious reasons.

Alternative products:

Moving into other markets. This is not an uncommon strategy for struggling start-ups in the advanced materials sector. The point here is that most such firms begin with a core materials technology and then try to find an application that will fit the technology. We can think of one company, for example, that started in the lighting business, shifted to the drug delivery business, before settling on the solar panel business. Ultimately it was acquired by a large chemical company!

This is an approach that we think firms in the space that we are discussing should be considering. But we don’t think it will be that easy. While encapsulation technologies might find new homes in the packaging of other electronics products or in food packaging, both of those markets are crowded with much lower-cost competition. But there may always be niches worth exploring.

A more viable option may be available to encapsulation firms whose expertise tends towards the equipment/process side of the business. Equipment expertise is more widely needed, and there may be any number of markets that the firm could target. For example, Beneq already works in various end-markets; high performance encapsulation of OLEDs and PV is only one of the many applications in which its ALD processes could be used. While shifting into new markets may not be an easy strategy for struggling encapsulation firms, it does hold out the prospects of a fresh start and big profits. . . someday.

Strategic investments:

It may be possible for some encapsulation firms to attract strategic investments from large materials or electronics firms who are in need of a good new encapsulation technology for their products. Here the economics surrounding the investment is quite different to other kinds of investment. In this case, the investor may be basing its calculations of return on enhanced cash flows from its core products; displays and solar panels. Or the investor may be a large materials company that simply has the resources to withstand some very lean years and believes in advanced encapsulation enough not to mind.

At the margin, a strategic investment morphs into a large firm buying a small firm for its technology and some smaller encapsulation firms may thus see the strategic investment option more in terms of hanging on long enough to get acquired. This may make a lot of sense for some of them; but, of course, it assumes that they don’t run out of cash while waiting for their savior.

The problem with this approach is that as time drags on, the deals that can be struck become more and more unfavorable to the smaller company. In the end, strategic investment can look quite close to liquidation.

Give up on big revenues:

Finally, an encapsulation start-up may opt to become a small R&D company, obtain some development contracts and survive. This is a classic small businessscenario. It is not compatible with a “flashy” VC business with big IPO plans, but it may be better than nothing. And there is always the hope that such firms may grow big some day. By way of an example, there were many very small telecom component firms that grew into substantial businesses during the telecom boom of two decades ago.

Frankly, none of the options that we have set out above are that attractive and we can understand why many firms in this space may want to follow their bliss. But the reality is that some of these small firms show little likelihood of finding it based on existing strategies and goals.

For a Complete List of Full Reports Available from Nano markets Go To:

http://www.nanomarkets.net/advanced_materials

Sharp Develops Solar Cell With World’s Highest Conversion Efficiency Of 37.7%


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8December 5, 2012

121205_01Sets a New Record with Triple-Junction Compound Solar Cell

 

Sharp Corporation has achieved the world’s highest solar cell conversion efficiency*1 of 37.7%*2 using a triple-junction compound solar cell in which three photo-absorption layers are stacked together.

Sharp achieved this latest breakthrough as a result of a research and development initiative promoted by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) *3 on the theme of “R&D on Innovative Solar Cells.” Measurement of the value of 37.7%, which sets a new record for the world’s highest conversion efficiency, was confirmed at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).

Compound solar cells utilize photo-absorption layers made from compounds consisting of two or more elements, such as indium and gallium. The basic structure of this latest triple-junction compound solar cell uses proprietary Sharp technology that enables efficient stacking of the three photo-absorption layers, with InGaAs (indium gallium arsenide) as the bottom layer.

To achieve this latest increase in conversion efficiency, Sharp capitalized on the ability of the new cell to efficiently absorb light from different wavelengths in sunlight and convert it into electricity. Sharp also increased the active area*4 for converting light into electricity through optimal processing of the cell edges. These improvements led to higher maximum output levels for the solar cell and enabled Sharp to achieve a solar cell conversion efficiency of 37.7%—the highest in the world.

Sharp’s aim for the future is to apply this latest development success to concentrator photovoltaic power systems that use lenses to collect and convert sunlight into electricity. The company also foresees numerous other practical applications for the cells, such as on space satellites and vehicles.

Structure of Triple-Junction Compound Solar Cell

  • InGaP: Indium Gallium Phosphide
  • GaAs: Gallium Arsenide
  • InGaAs: Indium Gallium Arsenide
  • Tunnel junction: Semiconductor junction where electricity flows as if through metal

*1 As of December 5, 2012, for non-concentrator solar cells at the research level (based on a survey by Sharp). *2 Conversion efficiency confirmed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST; one of several organizations around the world that officially certifies energy conversion efficiency measurements in solar cells) in September 2012. (Cell surface: approx. 1 cm2) *3 NEDO is one of Japan’s largest public management organizations for promoting research and development as well as for disseminating industrial, energy, and environmental technologies. *4 The ratio of the effective light-reception area to the total surface area of the cell.

                    

History of Sharp Compound Solar Cell Development

1967 – Development begins of solar cells for space applications using single-crystal silicon 1976 – Launch of operational Japanese satellite, “Ume,” equipped with Sharp solar cells for space applications (single-crystal silicon solar cell) 2000 – Research and development begin on triple-junction compound solar cells to further improve efficiency, reduce weight, and increase durability of solar cells for space applications 2001 – Participation in research and development on NEDO’s photovoltaic power generation themes 2002 Triple-junction compound solar cell gains certification from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) 2003 – Conversion efficiency of 31.5% achieved (at the research level) for a triple-junction compound solar cell 2004 – Launch of small scientific satellite, “Reimei,” equipped with Sharp triple-junction compound solar cells 2007 – Conversion efficiency of 40.0% achieved (at the research level) for a triple-junction compound solar cell (concentrator type, at 1,100 times concentrated sunlight) 2009 – Launch of Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT), “Ibuki”, equipped with Sharp triple-junction compound solar cells 2009 – Conversion efficiency of 35.8% achieved (at the research level) for a triple-junction compound solar cell*5 2011 – Conversion efficiency of 36.9% achieved (at the research level) for a triple-junction compound solar cell*5 2012 – Conversion efficiency of 43.5% achieved (at the research level) for a concentrator triple-junction compound solar cell*5(concentrator type, at 360 times concentrated sunlight) Conversion efficiency of 37.7% achieved (at the research level) for a triple-junction compound solar cell*5

*5 Based on research and development efforts that are part of NEDO’s “R&D on Innovative Solar Cells” project.

SOURCE: Sharp Corporation

Samsung displays devices with screens that bend and fold


Galaxy SkinSamsung Galaxy Skin was displayed with a flexible screen

Samsung is pushing the envelope in new areas of smartphone design, as it displayed devices with screens that bend. Samsung Galaxy Skin is reported to feature a flexible AMOLED, which uses a plastic polymer instead of glass. The new range of Samsung’s flexible phones will come in handy for clumsy hands as the device is reported to survive falls and blows.

The devices with flexible screens from Samsung are reported to be in the last phase of development and are rumoured to be released in the first half of next year. The flexibility of the screen is a result of the use of organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), which are thin and can be applied on flexible material, like plastic or metal foil.

Samsung is not the only company which has tried to create something unique like the flexible screens as companies like Japan’s Sony and South Korea’s LG Display have launched prototypes of the flexible screens. Samsung had previously promised flexible displays this year, but the date has passed with no confirmation from the South Korean manufacturer.

 

The prototypes of the flexible devices were displayed at the 2012 Plastics show in Birmingham this week. With the flexible devices, Samsung might be looking to create a unique pedestal for the South Korean company and the bendy devices might prove to be the factor, which pushes Samsung ahead.

Lee Chang-hoon, Vice President of Samsung’s display division, told the Journal that the South Korean company has sent out samples of the new displays to a few select customers.

Related:
Samsung Galaxy S4 rumours predict launch in January 2013
Galaxy S3 ousts iPhone 4S, becomes world’s best-selling smartphone in Q3 2012
Samsung Galaxy S3 64GB variant now available for pre-order in UK at £600

Galaxy Skin