Tag Archives: solar cells

Lenses a fraction of a hair’s width, faster communication and better solar cells

A lens just a billionth of a metre thick could transform phone cameras. Swinburne researchers have created ultra-thin lenses that cap an optical fibre, and can produce images with the quality and sharpness of much larger glass lenses.

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Reinventing catalysts

Professor Thomas Maschmeyer is working to integrate new battery and solar cell technologies into the walls and roofs of new houses, and to transform the somewhat ‘black art’ of catalysis—the process that cracks crude oil into useful fuels, oils and chemicals at every refinery. He has already helped to create over 200 new jobs with four spin-out companies.

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Renewable fuels turn over a new artificial leaf

‘Artificial leaves’ are bringing us one step closer to cheap, renewable and commercially-viable fuels that could power your car, house or whole community, thanks to researchers at Monash University.

Professor Doug MacFarlane and his team at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science are using sun, water and CO2 to produce hydrogen and methanol fuels.

Their artificial photosynthesis takes its inspiration from the way plants convert sunlight into energy, and then recreates it in an industrial setting.

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The walls and roof are battery

Lithium batteries have transformed power storage—from smartphones to electric cars and submarines. But like every battery their chemical composition changes through every charge cycle.

Lithium ions sitting in layers of graphite move between electrodes and change the oxidation state of, magnesium oxide, for example. The chemical rearrangements cause the graphite and oxide layers to physically expand and contract by up to 15 per cent at every cycle, cracking and detaching from the electrodes.

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Australian Academy of Science medals

Harry Messel has been a powerful force in science education—from the Physics Foundation to textbooks and his establishment of International Science Schools. He was awarded the Academy Medal.

Simon McKeon is a prominent business leader and philanthropist who has made extensive contributions to Australian science and innovation including chairing the CSIRO Board and the agenda-setting McKeon report into medical research in Australia. He was awarded the Academy Medal.

The life and death of cells: Jerry Adams has advanced understanding of cancer development, particularly of genes activated by chromosome translocation in lymphomas. By clarifying how the Bcl-2 protein family controls the life and death of cells, he and his colleagues at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research have galvanised the development of a promising new class of anti-cancer drugs. Jerry was awarded the 2014 Macfarlane Burnet Medal. Continue reading Australian Academy of Science medals

Victoria in race to print solar cells

In the future, the entire roof of your house could be a solar panel, and you could harness the power of the sun to charge your mobile phone while on a remote bushwalk, thanks to cheap, printable solar cells.

In the future, your entire roof of your house could be tiled with printed solar cells like this one. Credit: DJ Jones, University of Melbourne
In the future, your entire roof of your house could be tiled with printed solar cells like this one. Credit: DJ Jones, University of Melbourne

Work is underway to perfect the “printing” of a film-like layer of solar cells that can be applied cheaply to hard or flexible surfaces to generate electricity from sunlight. Continue reading Victoria in race to print solar cells

Spray-on solar cells

Imagine a power station that’s literally sprayed onto your roof —and could match the colour of your tiles.

GERRY WILSON IS DEVELOPING SPRAY-ON SOLAR CELLS. CREDIT: ISTOCKPHOTO

Thin film solar cells are thinner, cheaper and more versatile than the traditional silicon solar panels. Spray-on solar is a next step in the evolution of on-site power generation.

“These cells can be made with semiconductor dye materials, so you can match them to any colour or pattern you like—they’ll just convert that part of the solar spectrum into electricity. In the future we could have billboards that act as solar panels,” says Dr Gerry Wilson of CSIRO’s flexible electronics team.

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Star-shaped polymers boost engine performance

New lubricants containing star-shaped polymers have hit the market, thanks to Australian polymer technology. Lubrizol Corporation has launched the first commercial products developed using CSIRO’s Reversible Addition Fragmentation chain Transfer (RAFT) polymer synthesis process.

Asteric ™ Viscosity Modifiers are tailor-made star-shaped polymers made possible by RAFT Credit: Lubrizol
Asteric ™ Viscosity Modifiers are tailor-made star-shaped polymers made possible by RAFT Credit: Lubrizol

CSIRO chemist Dr Ezio Rizzardo says the RAFT process allows much greater flexibility and potential for polymer synthesis, compared with conventional methods. “Conventional polymerisation is a relatively simple process with two ingredients: large amounts of monomer and a small amount of an initiating agent. You apply heat; a chain reaction starts and runs to completion, making polymer chains that can have widely varying lengths.”
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VESKI’s innovative fellowships deliver results

VESKI’s main initiative – to return successful Australian expatriates with outstanding skills in science, technology and design – is paying off with some inspiring work.

In 2004, VESKI’s – Victorian Endowment for Science, Knowledge and Innovation – inaugural Fellow Professor Andrew Holmes returned from Cambridge University to work in a new $100 million Bio21 Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Institute. One of the most important research areas to emerge since has been the development of cheap plastic solar cells.

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