Update: one of our readers also recommends people check out and contribute to the World Community Grid.
In only a couple of months, an incredible resource will be released to the public, a comprehensive list of the top 20,000 organic compounds that are useful for the creation of cheap, printable, photovoltaic cells (PVCs).
The list was created as part of Harvard’s Clean Energy Project. The project makes use of IBM’s World Community Grid — which is essentially a program that makes use of the collective surplus computing power of the computers of volunteers all over the world. Thanks to this impressive computing power, an incredible amount of progress has been made in the identification of compounds useful to the creation of inexpensive and efficient organic solar cells.
“Computational chemists typically calculate the potential for photovoltaic efficiency one organic molecule at a time. Over the past few years, computational chemists have identified a few organic compounds with the potential to offer around 10% energy conversion levels.”
“But that’s only two or three,” said Alan Aspuru-Guzik, an associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard, as quoted by Computer World. “Through our project, we’ve identified 20,000 of them at that level of performance. We’re in the process of wrapping up our first analysis and (will be) releasing all the data very soon.”
As a final note, there are a couple of particularly impressive things to mention about the list. The researchers say that the list could lead to PVCs that are cheap enough that you could cover a wall with them for the same price that you could paint it. And perhaps more impressively, the list of molecules include some that have higher than 13% solar conversion efficiency rates.
For some fun, in the video below, “a paper solar cell circuit is dynamically folded and unfolded while the voltage is simultaneously measured on the meter. The paper photovoltaic is illuminated from below with simulated solar illumination.”