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Collaborative Success Stories: Here Comes the Sun


sunrise

University of Missouri researcher Dr. Patrick Pinhero is developing a new way to produce solar energy.

With all its promise, solar energy has not been widely embraced in the United States. Cost and efficiency are both issues: solar panels are expensive, and the silicon cells that comprise them only convert about 25 percent of the sun’s rays into electricity.

Pinhero is working to change that. With industry professionals and researchers from Idaho National Laboratories and the University of Colorado, he is developing a nanoantenna—1/25 the width of a human hair—that could potentially collect as much as 90 percent of light energy. Unlike traditional solar cells which collect only visible light, the nanoantenna also collects infrared radiation, which makes up half of solar radiation and is reemitted as heat by the Earth’s surface after sundown. The nanoantenna is also much less expensive to produce than silicon cells.

The team is raising capital from private investors and fine-tuning the technology. If it lives up to its promise, the nanoantenna could revolutionize the nation’s approach to solar power.

Dr. Patrick Pinhero is professor of chemical engineering in MU’s College of Engineering.

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Related Initiative(s):
Sustainable Energy