November 20, 2002
Material Discovered For Full Spectrum Photovoltaic Cell

A new discovery raises the prospect of a more efficient photovoltaic cell for lower cost solar energy. Two layers of indium gallium nitride in a solar cell design could convert sunlight to electricity at 50% efficiency.

BERKELEY, CA — Researchers in the Materials Sciences Division (MSD) of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, working with crystal-growing teams at Cornell University and Japan's Ritsumeikan University, have learned that the band gap of the semiconductor indium nitride is not 2 electron volts (2 eV) as previously thought, but instead is a much lower 0.7 eV.

The serendipitous discovery means that a single system of alloys incorporating indium, gallium, and nitrogen can convert virtually the full spectrum of sunlight -- from the near infrared to the far ultraviolet -- to electrical current.

"It's as if nature designed this material on purpose to match the solar spectrum," says MSD's Wladek Walukiewicz, who led the collaborators in making the discovery.

What began as a basic research question points to a potential practical application of great value. For if solar cells can be made with this alloy, they promise to be rugged, relatively inexpensive -- and the most efficient ever created.

The original URL for the article has a graph.

Update: For more details also see this article from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory site:

Working with crystal growers from Cornell and Ritsumeikan University, Japan, the LBNL team performed optical tests (absorption and “photoluminescence”) on a wide range of extremely high quality InN and InxGa1-xN films grown under carefully controlled conditions. It was found that the direct band gap of pure InN is 0.7 eV rather than the previously reported 2.0 eV, which had been measured in lower quality material. Furthermore, it was shown that alloying the InN with GaN to form InxGa1-xN can produce materials whose bandgaps can be continuously varied from 0.7 eV to 3.4 eV. This single semiconductor alloy system, therefore, has an almost perfect match to the entire solar spectrum. Not only does this range include the optimal bandgap values (1.1 and 1.7 eV) for a two-layer cell, it will also enable the fabrication of optimized tandem cells with more layers, for which materials whose band gaps extend close to the lower and nearly all the way to the upper bounds of the usable region of the solar spectrum are required. More recent work has shown that the InxAl1-xN system has direct band gaps spanning an even wider energy range: from 0.7 – 6.2 eV; thus, this related materials system may be useful for both solar energy conversion and for other optoelectronic applications in the near-IR to deep ultraviolet regions of the spectrum.

Although grown on lattice mismatched substrates, all the InxGa1-xN films show an exceptionally strong and robust photoluminescence, demonstrating insensitivity of the optoelectronic properties to structural imperfections. This observation bodes very well for applications of these materials in environmentally harsh conditions. To fully implement the InxGa1-xN alloys for photovoltaic applications some additional hurdles such as control of p-type doping must be overcome, however the work demonstrates that III-V nitride alloys are promising candidates for the development of new solar cells with efficiencies as high as 50%. Furthermore, the discovery extends the range of potential optoelectronic applications of III-V nitride alloys from the near infrared to the deep ultraviolet spectral regions.

Update II: The reason that InGaN turned out to have a different absorption spectrum than expected may have been due to impurities in previously used samples. The InGaN used in this recent set of experiments was much purer but also much expensive. Now the researchers need to find out whether less pure material can exhibit a similar wide light absorption spectrum:

The samples Walukiewicz tested were made using a painstaking, and prohibitively expensive, method to grow very pure crystals of InGaN one atomic layer at a time. The team now hopes to collaborate with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado to try to build cheap InGaN solar cells.

Update III: These scientists have a number of problems to solve before this breakthru turns into something useful. They need to find out how to make other forms of this material:

There's a lot of work to be done before practical solar cells can be made from indium nitride, however. The researchers have not yet made the p-type form of the material. "One of the biggest challenges is to make p-type doped indium nitride," said Walukiewicz. The indications are good, however. It is theoretically easier to make p-type doped indium nitride than to do the same with gallium nitride, which has already been done, he said. Gallium nitride is also a direct band-gap material.

The researchers' next step is to make p-type indium nitride. They are also working to make p-type gallium indium nitride, he said. And they are more thoroughly testing the properties of the two materials under high-energy particle irradiation, he said.

The researchers have only tested a few samples, said Cheng Hsiao Wu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Missouri at Rolla. The reasons for the measurements are not yet clear; there could be a mechanism involved other than a different band gap, he said.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2002 November 20 04:36 PM  Energy Tech


Comments
Philip Shropshire said at November 21, 2002 7:45 AM:

Boy, this just seems like big big news to me. Is there any talk of products or how soon we'll see this tech in the street? Combine this with nan improvements...I guess the only question is will the big oil government allow for it?

Randall Parker said at November 21, 2002 4:52 PM:

Philip, I watch a lot of science news sites and I'm struck by just how many labs and companies in many countries are trying to develop better ways to make photovoltaics. A lot of sharp minds are working on different kinds of materials to make lower cost photovoltaics. I don't expect big oil to be able to stop it.

One thing I don't think the average person appreciates about the rate of technological advance is that the number of scientists and engineers keeps rising while at the same time the tools and existing body of knowledge they have to work with keeps getting better. So the productivity level of scientists is rising while the number of people working rises as well. The total amount of advance per year therefore increases across a wide range of areas. For this reason I really expect non-fossil fuel energy technologies to replace fossil fuel energy technologies faster than most people expect. Progress is not linear. Its accelerating all the time.

If I'm right then this makes the Kyoto Accords irrelevant. Fossil fuels will be replaced by lower cost alternatives just by market forces alone.

Philip Shropshire said at November 21, 2002 5:30 PM:

I hope you're right. But it would be very easy to outlaw these kinds of cutting edge techs, especially if we had a government run by oilmen (Please note how they've cut back on alt fuel investment) interested in protecting their investment. The cheap and efficient solar cells could be vetted through a years long regulatory process. They could even use a prohibition on Nan (limited only to the civilian sector of course) to cut off the research and the growth opportunities. And if all that fails, they could use these wonderful new laws against terrorism, which would be easy to twist against citizens, to make sure that you never get it. Look at how California utilities are fighting against turning your business or home into an energy hub that can sell energy back to the state or look at the successful efforts to shut down stem cell research...And if all else fails I can see them coming to your door and just taking your new fangled super efficient solar cells away from you..."lawbreaker". Frankly, I hope the changes come very very fast so that they can't stop it, sort of like the Internet. It warms my heart to know that this stupid war for oil means a war for nothing...but I get depressed about how many people will die for just that, nothing....

Randall Parker said at November 21, 2002 7:34 PM:

Philip, Embryonic stem cell research is still going on in the US, just at a slower rate. It is still possible to study embryonic stem cells of other species and most developmental biology questions are going to yield similar answers in mice, rats, rabbits, and monkeys anyhow. I think the overall rate of advance in biotech instrumentation will make it easier to figure out how development happens regardless of whether the US government funds it or not.

Also, adult stem cells can be studied and they can yield many of the answers about cellular differentiation as well. Lots of researchers are working on adult human stem cells and, in other species, all kinds of stem cells. So as I see it the box is a lot more than half full.

As for solar cells and regulatory process: What regulatory process? If someone in the US wants to make and install solar cells there is no serious regulatory barrier that has to be hopped over. Probably the biggest barrier will be local if local folks decide that solar cells are unsightly. But if solar material can be made to look like conventional roofs and siding even that won't be an obstacle.

Your imagination about law enforcement taking away people's solar cells is far-fetched. If solar becomes cost effective politicians will all vote to make it easier to install, not harder.

As for Bush cutting alt energy research. Really? I think he shifted some money around. The shifts might even have been wise. I think the bigger push his administration is making for fuel cell tech is a good idea.

A war for oil: No its not. Bush Sr and the oil industry are against what Bush Jr is doing. A large number of the forces lined up against taking out Saddam are doing so because they have oil interests they want to protect. The Russians and the Saudis want to keep oil prices high. The Russians and the French want to keep their contracts for developing Iraqi oil fields. The money interests are lined up against taking out Saddam's regime. I've examined some of the interests on both sides of the Iraq war issue on my Parapundit.com site and I think the idea that oil interests are behind an attack on Iraq is not credible. If you look in my Parapundit archives on Preemption, Deterrence, Containment you'll see the real substantive arguments for taking out Saddam's regime.

Philip Shropshire said at November 22, 2002 8:05 PM:

“Philip, Embryonic stem cell research is still going on in the US, just at a slower rate. It is still possible to study embryonic stem cells of other species and most developmental biology questions are going to yield similar answers in mice, rats, rabbits, and monkeys anyhow. I think the overall rate of advance in biotech instrumentation will make it easier to figure out how development happens regardless of whether the US government funds it or not.”

Randall, I just think that the gold lies in fetal stem cells. That’s just a gut feeling, not a scientific assessment. However, their have been articles written to the effect that other places like China, Britain and Singapore, are now poised to take the lead in genomic research.(1) Also, government policy does affect research and outcomes. For example, the reason we don’t have affordable broadband in the US is that the Big Telcos and Cable companies lobbied to make sure that they weren’t forced to open up their pipes. So while we have several thousand competitors in the dialup category we have about several competitors on the broadband front and that number just got smaller with Comcast’s engulfment of ATT broadband. Let’s contrast that with how the South Korean’s handled their broadband. First, they picked a tech “winner” (universal broadband and I’ll never understand why the government picking “winners” and “losers” in tech is a bad thing…doesn’t this happen by default and who the Hell picked oil over hydrogen fuels or those new organic energy cells (har har I’ll hold my breath for that…) that Craig Ventor’s going to build…) and they did two interesting things: they invested some money and they opened up the pipes so that everybody could afford it. South Korea now has the most wired populace in the world. But luckily for us we have the pro life right wing and greedy lobbies holding the US back…

“Also, adult stem cells can be studied and they can yield many of the answers about cellular differentiation as well. Lots of researchers are working on adult human stem cells and, in other species, all kinds of stem cells. So as I see it the box is a lot more than half full.”

The box isn’t only not half full, it’s completely barren. We’re letting nonscientists like Leon Kass (Have you the read the Postrel on this guy? He’s pro death. Even if we figure out how to use adult stems (either by doping our own organs or some other breakthrough) to extend our lives, this clown will make sure that you won’t get it! Government policy matters. The Democrats, especially the DLC Democrats who are GOP lite anyway, were never ever this hostile to basic research.


“As for solar cells and regulatory process: What regulatory process? If someone in the US wants to make and install solar cells there is no serious regulatory barrier that has to be hopped over. Probably the biggest barrier will be local if local folks decide that solar cells are unsightly. But if solar material can be made to look like conventional roofs and siding even that won't be an obstacle.”

Actually, in most states, you’re not allowed to delink from the grid. There are laws already against it. And in California, where you can invest in fuel cells and alt fuels and turn your house or business into an energy hub, the utilities are fighting this! I can’t find the link (unfortunately) but essentially your meter turns the other way and the utility starts paying you. This and an optimistic fuel cell future is outlined in Jeremy Rifkin’s new book “The Hydrogren Age”. However, there are regulatory rules that could stop this from happening. That’s why I’m hoping that whatever happens happens fast…

“Your imagination about law enforcement taking away people's solar cells is far-fetched. If solar becomes cost effective politicians will all vote to make it easier to install, not harder.”

It’s not imagination. It’s recent history. If you want a specific example, look at Britain, where a number of people were using bio diesel to fuel their cars. Did the British clap their hands in excitement about this non Saudi fuel source? No, they arrested them and charged them with tax evasion. (Link is here: http://mauigreenenergy.org/biodieselnews.htm) Here in the US, where we are run by oilmen, who apparently haven’t thought that perhaps we would be safer if we invested heavily in alt fuels (I don’t know how this thought could have escaped them…) I would expect just a tad more hostility. You also seem to making, at least indirectly, that the best tech wins because it’s better. I guess that’s why I’m listening to Napster right now on my computer, which of course uses a tech superior Linux distro, which had put Microsoft out of biz for some years now…By the way, if you haven’t noticed, our politicians—in both parties—are completely under the control of wealthy multinational lobbies. And as I’ve seen before: Multinationals aren’t nationalistic and they don’t give a Frell about the public interest or cost effectiveness.


“As for Bush cutting alt energy research. Really? I think he shifted some money around. The shifts might even have been wise. I think the bigger push his administration is making for fuel cell tech is a good idea.”

The administration has cut the alt fuel budget by 27 percent. (2) And let’s see what happens on the fuel cell front.

“A war for oil: No its not. Bush Sr and the oil industry are against what Bush Jr is doing. A large number of the forces lined up against taking out Saddam are doing so because they have oil interests they want to protect. The Russians and the Saudis want to keep oil prices high. The Russians and the French want to keep their contracts for developing Iraqi oil fields. The money interests are lined up against taking out Saddam's regime. I've examined some of the interests on both sides of the Iraq war issue on my Parapundit.com site and I think the idea that oil interests are behind an attack on Iraq is not credible. If you look in my Parapundit archives on Preemption, Deterrence, Containment you'll see the real substantive arguments for taking out Saddam's regime.”

Look, you’re talking about disagreements between different factions of the oil industry. Actually they’re cutting the oil deals right now and patching over their differences, at least according to a massive Ted Rall piece (link here: http://www.comicbookgalaxy.com/pipeline1.html) , that hasn’t been very effectively rebutted by the right. As for your preemption links, I didn’t see a single post there that refuted that it’s a war for oil. If it’s a war against a nuclear power that then might threaten our interests, wouldn’t North Korea, Pakistan or even Israel be better targets? One of the most radical arguments I’ve made over at Warblogger Watch is that the war in Iraq could devolve into a war against Israel very quickly if the US thinks the oil fields are threatened by an Israeli nuclear strike aimed at Iraq, not to mention our troops…


(1)Well, no less a source that Business Week thinks you’re wrong. They argue that the more “settled” (as in open minded Euros who don’t let Dark Age fundies determine their research policies I presume…)(And that link is here: http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/apr2002/nf2002044_8925.htm)atmosphere for genetic research:

“With the legal and regulatory stage set, Britain is attracting some of the world's top talent to its shores. Already, a handful of top American stem-cell researchers, such as former University of California at San Francisco Professor Roger Pedersen, have been lured across the Atlantic. Indeed, Sir George Radda, the head of the Medical Research Council, which will fund the stem-cell bank, is predicting a "brain gain." The Medical Research Council has set up fast-track grants to entice international academics to Britain and is investing $57 million a year to support training, fellowships, and other research programs in this field.”


(2) This point about this administration’s hostility to alt fuels is a small one. I presume that you’re a scientist or researcher of some sort. Haven’t you ever heard of cause and effect? This is from a Sierra Club factsheet (the link is here: http://www.sierraclub.org/energy/factsheet.asp) concerning the Bush Administration’s position on fossil fuels:

“The Bush Administration has proposed cutting energy efficiency research and development by 27 percent overall, with over 50 percent cut in some specific programs in Fiscal Year 2002. (3) These cuts would hurt efforts to improve efficiency in homes, vehicles, businesses, and industry.President Bush has proposed cutting renewable energy research and development programs by 36percent in FY02. This devastating cut would slow the development of key renewable energy technologies and risks our global leadership in this area. It is the wrong choice for our national energy policy.”

On a related note, instead of cutting back on alt fuels, we should be funding it at unprecedented levels. Here’s what the American Wind Association says we can do concerning fossil fuels. That link is here: http://www.awea.org/policy/ccwp.html#note12

“[16] While U.S. government wind energy R&D funding has declined over the past 15 years (even taking account of recent increases), wind R&D funding in Europe has continued to grow. U.S. R&D funding: 1983: $43 million; FY 1998: $30 million. European R&D funding: 1983: $41 million; 1995: $109 million. All figures in 1992 dollars. Source of funding data "International Wind Energy Research, Development and Demonstration: Government Funding," compilation maintained by U.S. Department of Energy. Source of inflation data: Annual Energy Review 1996 (Washington, D.C.: Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, July 1997), p. 367. Deflator for 1997 has been conservatively estimated at 111.0.”

Now, here’s a fact concerning what Europe is doing in terms of wind power. Please contrast this with what the administration of oilmen is doing. Catch the connection, please.

“12] Denmark, Germany, India, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom have all experienced substantial growth in wind energy capacity during the past decade as a result of aggressive public policies favoring clean energy development. The case of Denmark is instructive: a country with a population about the same as that of the state of Indiana and a land area less than half Indiana's size went from 343 MW of installed wind capacity in 1990 to 972 MW today while the U.S. market, once the largest in the world, stagnated. Recently, Denmark unveiled plans to boost its onshore wind capacity to 1,500 MW by the year 2005 as part of a national program to reduce CO2 emissions in that year to 20% below 1988 levels. To indicate the lengths the Danes have gone to to encourage clean energy development and energy efficiency, electricity in Denmark currently costs US 18 cents/kWh (7 cents for production and 11 cents added by a series of taxes to discourage consumption, pay for CO2 reductions, etc.). Meanwhile, Danish wind developers receive a payment of 11 cents/kWh for the electricity they generate.”

Bob said at November 22, 2002 9:40 PM:

"Let’s contrast that with how the South Korean’s handled their broadband. ... South Korea now has the most wired populace in the world. ...[meanwhile, back at the ranch] greedy lobbies holding the US back."

South Korea is the example of a robust, dynamic market, and the US is the example of a hobbled technological backwater ?!?!?!

Absurd, preposterous, ridiculous, ludicrous -- none of these words suffice to describe the yammering perversity.


<Randall> Lots of researchers are working on adult human stem cells and, in other species, all kinds of stem cells. </Randall> (emphasis added)

Your reply to Randall's statement seems to have completely ignored its content.


"Actually, in most states, you’re not allowed to delink from the grid."

Just stop paying your electricity bill, and someone else will be happy to do the delinking for you.


"If you want a specific example [of law enforcement taking away people's solar cells], look at Britain, ... charged [tax evaders] with tax evasion."

Frankly, I don't see the connection.


"And as I’ve seen before: Multinationals aren’t nationalistic and they don’t give a Frell about the public interest or cost effectiveness."

This is why one prefers a system, like the capitalist system, that causes the multinationals to benefit everyone in spite of their base motives.


"The administration has cut the alt fuel budget by 27 percent. (2) And let’s see what happens on the fuel cell front."

Assuming the Sierra Club's analysis is accurate and untainted by political motive, what makes you think the increasing cost of energy lacks sufficient motivating power for companies to develop alternative fuel sources with their own money? Why should we force the American taxpayer to assume the risk for someone else's reward?


"If it’s a war against a nuclear power that then might threaten our interests, wouldn’t North Korea, Pakistan or even Israel be better targets? "

Apparently, you and I have been reading different parapundit sites. (Randall, check your dns settings! Maybe someone is defacing your site. <g>) From the site I read, I thought a dangerous madman on the verge of becoming a nuclear power was the motivation for preemptive war. A war against North Korea, Pakistan or Isreal would be postemptive. Those wars would actually kill and maim many millions of people instead of liberating them.


"open minded Euros"

Steadfastly holding to the same prejudices and limited viewpoints as oneself does not really make them "open minded".


"Britain is attracting some of the world's top talent to its shores."

Good for them! It's about time someone reversed the flow! Gets done here... gets done there... I say: "As long as it gets done!" Marginal efficiency: it's a beautiful thing. Hey! Badda boom, badda bing! Don't you agree?


<SierraClub>"These cuts would hurt efforts to improve efficiency..."</SierraClub>

In my experience, replacing existing market forces with central planning rarely improves efficiency.


"On a related note, instead of cutting back on alt fuels, we should be funding it at unprecedented levels."

Why? What would the funding do that increasing energy prices won't do?


"Here’s what the American Wind Association says..."

A political message from the American Wind Association... Truth in advertising! What a concept! I love it!


"Now, here’s a fact concerning what Europe is doing in terms of wind power. Please contrast this with what the administration of oilmen is doing. Catch the connection, please. ... [Denmark pays 11 cents for 7 cents worth of energy.]"

Assuming the oilmen pay 7 cents for 7 cents worth of energy... hmmmm... it's a poser, alright. Does the connection have anything to do with relative IQ? No, wait, I've got it! The connection is: The rationality of central planning. Right? Am I right? Is that it? Do I get the prize?

Randall Parker said at November 23, 2002 8:07 PM:

Philip, Since we have wandered off into so many different topics I'll try to restrict myself to the prospects for replacements for fossil fuel energy sources. As you can see from my main page the Bush Administration and Congress are going to double the NSF budget over a period of about 5 years. This comes on top of faster-than-inflation budget increases for NSF of some years running. Well, a lot of that is going into nanotech and nanotech advances will make it easier to do everything. Want to make a cheaper windmill? Nanotech will provide a way. Want to make cheaper solar cells? Nanotech will provide a way.

My focus on futurepundit.com is to try to drive home the idea that the rate of technological advance is accelerating to a rate that will allow us to easily solve many problems that we've wanted to solve for years. I see huge advances coming in our basic knowledge of silicon semiconductor and organic material materials. I see huge advances coming in looking at the optical properties of materials.

Look at the discovery that is the occasion for my post on this topic. They say it was serendipitous. Go back and read the full article. They weren't trying to discover the useful property that they discovered. It was accidental. If the Bush Administration follows thru with their huge increase in the NSF budget then it doesn't matter how much money is specifically allocated to energy research thru the US Department of Energy. The discoveries that are needed to make affordable solar cells will come as a consequence of attempts to just better understand the optical properties of materials. The desire to make those discoveries exists for lots of other reasons. The desire to develop better sensors is a big one of course. Ditto for better lasers and better devices for reading the signal coming out on the receiving end of a fiber optic transmission.

On the science of adult stem cells: Do you read my blog regularly? I make lots of posts on the uses of adult stem cells. Read, for example, this one on stem cells used for heart and circulatory repair. I don't see a barren box because I see all these promising reports coming out.

Also, I do not expect to see a ban on the use of adult stem cells. The obstacles to the use of embryonic stem cells slow (only slow, not stop - especially since the research is happening in other countries and in other species) progress on some avenues but on other avenues progress is accelerating.

Philip Shropshire said at November 24, 2002 12:38 AM:

"My focus on futurepundit.com is to try to drive home the idea that the rate of technological advance is accelerating to a rate that will allow us to easily solve many problems that we've wanted to solve for years. I see huge advances coming in our basic knowledge of silicon semiconductor and organic material materials. I see huge advances coming in looking at the optical properties of materials."


Darnit all I agree with you there! Let the singularity come. I'm sure it will be a good thing. And that's close to the conclusion that I've come to over at Three River Tech Review. But I don't think that it will be seamless and fun or easy. In fact, you may have to put up a fight over the tech that you want. I keep on thinking how auto companies fought against seatbelts and airbags and drove Tucker out of business and what a bad idea fission energy turned out to be...But just to pour some rain on the embryonic vs. adult stem cell debate and to do my best Steven Den Beste impression: I think that it's just as important for Americans to lead in genomics as it is in nanotech. In fact, this proposal of Venter's would seem to rely on not only principles of nan and assembler tech but also genetics--which depends on open ended basic research into embryonic stem cells it would seem, which we don't currently have in the US. I mean, I don't disagree with you that it will go on other countries. But are you comfortable with China taking the lead in genetic research? Or some multinational that isn't nationalistic? Or any country that isn't American? It's not just unsettling, it's dangerous.

And yes, I'm happy that the administration is picking a "winner" and putting a lot of their investment into nanotechnology (as opposed to the steam engine or that new fangled quilting technology...I wish they thought the same way about broadband. By the way, in a partial rebut to Bob: a wired society is spurring S. Korean growth). Of course, a lot of this, as Drexler predicted, is driven by military apps, as was the Internet. Hey, I'll accept my results if not the sanctity of my drivers...

Randall Parker said at November 24, 2002 11:22 AM:

Philip, The proponents of ESC technology have oversold it. They'd tried to portrary it as more important than it is in order to better argue against the opponents. I'm not saying that to oppose ESC research. I'm not a religious guy who thinks that at the moment of fertilization a spirit enters the fertilized cell. I'm just saying that its a gross exaggeration to argue that the US can't lead in genomics research without doing human ESC research.

Advances in genetics research depends on a huge number of factors. Its vitally important to come up with more and better ways to deliver gene therapy for instance. Plus, the rate at which one can sequence genomes is incredibly important. Drive down the cost of doing personal DNA sequencing by a few orders of magnitude and suddenly everyone will be able to find out their own genetic vulnerabilities to assorted diseases. Ways to compensate many vulnerabilities (eg send gene therapy vectors into particular organs or take a drug that compensates for a metabolic shortcoming) will be found fairly quickly.

Also, to repeat myself: Many useful applications of adult stem cell therapies are being developed. As we find out more about how cells differentiate we will find ways to turn even adult stem cells into just about any organ or tissue type in the body. We will also find ways to turn fully differentiated cells into less differentiated cells (cloning already does this though with a large ratio of failures to successes) and then into other tissue types.

As for picking winners: Picking a research area as broad as molecular level manipulations of matter as a broad area to fund basic research is far less of a commitment to a winner than, say, picking a particular fabrication technology for photovoltaics and then funding the construction of a manufacturing plant. If you look at what the US DOE has funded in solar research it is disappointing to find out just how small a percentage of the money goes to basic research on basic science on optical properties of materials. The Bush push into nano will do far more to make solar progress than what the DOE has been funding for years.

So just how bad is solar funding in the US?
Here's an expired page from the National Center for Photovoltaics (From Google cache) for 2001 (and I do NOT think this is a decrease from Clinton Admin levels and so you can't just blame Bush). If fhe House committee's language made it into law then photovoltaics get all of $81 million and out of that only $8.7 million go to university basic research. That's chump change.


again expired even from Google cache:

July 05,2001

House Energy and Water Appropriations Language

Just in case you missed the language last week from the House Energy and Water Appropriations dealing with FY 2002 appropriations, they are reproduced below. The Senate is expected to markup shortly.

Solar Energy.-Solar energy technologies include: concentrating solar power; photovoltaic energy systems; and solar building technology research. The total Committee recommendation for solar energy is $94,657,000, an increase of $51,725,000 over the budget request and $1,132,000 over fiscal year 2001.

The Committee recommends $7,932,000 for concentrating solar power, an increase of $6,000,000 over the budget request and $5,868,000 less than fiscal year 2001. Both solar troughs and solar dish/Stirling engine technologies have the potential to be more efficient than solar tower technology. Therefore, $6,000,000 is provided to the Department for field testing of these technologies, and $1,932,000 is provided to the national laboratories for materials research, reliability testing, and support.

Photovoltaic energy systems are funded at $81,775,000, an increase of $6,000,000 over fiscal year 2001 and $42,775,000 over the budget request. The recommendation includes $8,700,000 for basic research/university programs and $18,500,000 for the thin film partnership program. The Committee supports cooperation with universities and industry to develop the science and engineering base required to move photovoltaic technology from the laboratory bench to the assembly line.

The Committee recommends $4,950,000 for solar building technology research, an increase of $1,000,000 over fiscal year 2001 and $2,950,000 over the budget request.

The control level for fiscal year 2002 is at the solar energy program account level.

Wind energy systems.-The Committee recommends $40,000,000 for wind energy systems, the same as in fiscal year 2001 and an increase of $19,500,000 over the budget request. The Committee supports the Department's current focus on developing the next generation of wind turbines that will be able to generate electricity at a competitive cost per kilowatt-hour in moderate (i.e., Class 4) winds without the need for a continuing federal subsidy. The Department is encouraged to work with private turbine manufacturers and the utility industry to develop, test, and bring such turbines to market at the earliest opportunity.

Electric energy systems and storage
The electric energy systems and storage program is funded at $60,000,000, $8,000,000 more than in fiscal year 2001 and $8,254,000 more than the amended budget request. Under this program, the Department conducts research and development on advanced technologies for the generation, transmission, storage, and distribution of electric power. The Committee encourages the Department to continue its work to support the timely deployment of distributed energy resources.

The Committee recommends $39,870,000 for high temperature superconducting research and development, $3,051,000 more than the amended budget request and $2,870,000 more than provided in fiscal year 2001. For energy storage systems, the Committee provides $7,130,000, $1,143,000 more than the budget request and $1,130,000 more than fiscal year 2001. For transmission reliability, the Committee recommends $13,000,000, an increase of $4,000,000 over the funding level in fiscal year 2001 and an increase of 105 $4,060,000 over the budget request. Within the funds available for transmission reliability, the Department should initiate the field testing of advanced composite conductors, which have the potential to increase the capacity of existing transmission lines. The control level for fiscal year 2002 is at the electric energy systems and storage program account level.

Renewable support and implementation
The renewable support and implementation program includes departmental energy management, international renewable energy, the renewable energy production incentive (REPI), renewable Indian energy resources, and renewable program support. The Committee recommendation for renewable support and implementation is $12,500,000, an increase of $2,950,000 over the budget request and a decrease of $9,100,000 compared to the fiscal year 2001 funding level. This recommendation provides $2,500,000 for departmental energy management, $3,000,000 for the international renewable energy program, $4,000,000 for the renewable energy production incentive program, and $3,000,000 for renewable program support. Consistent with the budget request, the Committee has provided no funding for renewable Indian energy resources, with available funds directed to other renewable energy work. National Renewable Energy Laboratory The Committee recommendation for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, is $5,000,000, the same as the budget request and an increase of $1,000,000 over the fiscal year 2001 funding level. NREL is one of the Department's newer laboratories, and it is essential that the Department maintain this facility properly so that it does not require a larger investment later in time, as is the case with much of the infrastructure elsewhere in the DOE complex.

Program direction
The Committee notes with disapproval that the Department requested a three percent increase for program direction at the same time as it proposed a 36 percent reduction in the total funding for Renewable Energy Resources. The program direction funding, and the Federal staff supported by this funding, should be proportional to the funding available for substantive research and development work on renewable energy resources. The Committee, therefore, recommends $18,700,000 for program direction, the same as the fiscal year 2001 level and a reduction of $500,000 from the budget request.

The Committee supports the Department's initiative to improve the project management capabilities in the Golden Field Office. Centralized project management by the federal staff in Golden should offer efficiencies compared to the current fragmented approach in which renewable energy projects are managed by a variety of other field offices and laboratories. However, the Committee does not believe that this initiative requires additional funding and FTEs. Instead, the Department should look first at retraining the existing federal workforce in the Golden Field Office and then 106 gradually shift more project management responsibilities as their capabilities improve.

Mark said at May 4, 2004 6:56 PM:

Hi,
You guys cover a lot of areas and details I don't know. But what I do know from my gut is that the more we work together as a whole, the more we will achieve. At the center of this is the internet. It should be called the "communicator". It's no difference as to the cells of our body, when the cells are "talking", everything works, when it doesn't there is chaos and disease. I agree that the small 20% (The governing powers) who continue to convince to give 25% of our earnings so they can buy what we need (like military toys) rule will not stand against the billions making daily decisions and inroads in to progress. My wish is that we realize that as a whole unit working together, we are blessed, and I believe that vision is coming into view. Competition only works until we need the other guy and then cooperation takes over.

Spooky said at June 21, 2004 3:53 PM:

p-doping [GaN]: Cp2Mg
Once the first benchmark is achieved the next challenge is to dope InxGa1-xN (at x=0.8) p-type with Magnesium (precursor = Mg(C5H5)2). If device quality InxGa1-xN (at x=0.8) can be grown it is expected that p-type doping of this material ought to be straightforward compared to doping GaN p-type. There has been very little published work on p-doping InxGa1-xN at higher compositions, x. Inushima [11] has attempted to grow p-type InN without success. However the material was clearly non-device quality. Since the material was heavily defected the p-dopant may have been compensated by Nitrogen vacancies. It is well known that defects (i.e. Nitrogen vacancies) will compensate the p-doping. Theoretically it becomes be easier to dope InxGa1-xN p-type as the composition, x, increases. There is published work that supports this [12]. P-type device quality material has been grown resulting in very high doping of p~6.7x10^18 at a composition of x=0.14 (InxGa1-xN). The carrier concentration progressively increased as the composition, x, increased. It has been expected that the activation energy of the p-type carriers will decrease with increasing composition, x, as the band gap decreases resulting in high p-type carriers (this was also reported [12]).

[11] T. Inushima, J. Cryst. Growth 227-228, 481-485 (2001)
[12] Toshiki Makimoto, Jpn. J. Appl. Phys., 39 L337 (2000)

gdp said at August 19, 2004 5:24 AM:

The practical problem with screwball baterials such as Gallium-Indium-Nitride is that neither Gallium nor Indium are particularly abundant elements, nor are they especially easy to refine. Gallium and Indium occur primarily as mere trace elements in other ores, and the entire world's production of either element is a mere couple hundred tonnes per year. Hence, the idea of basing an energy-production economy on Gallium-Indium-Nitride photovoltaics seems quite bluntly rather absurd...

Spooky said at September 3, 2004 4:31 PM:

For 8 Terra Watts you'd need about 2000 tons of In and 2000 tons of Ga if 70% of the solar constant is havested.
The US uses about 4 Terra Watts.

spooky said at September 30, 2004 1:26 PM:

More on Indium...

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/35098.pdf

CIGS get about 15% Eff.
and C-Silicon get about 20% Eff.

Prog. Photovolt: Res. Appl. 2004; 12: 365–372

GDP, is it absurd to rely on other peoples oil?

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