” Copper Nanowires can now be ‘grown’ in bulk and then ‘printed’ on a surface to transparently conduct current! ”
Most people probably don’t realize that thin film solar panels and flat screen TV’s share alot in common, since they both rely heavily on the technologies of ‘thin-film dialectrics’ (TFD) to produce the substrates (electrode layers) that control either the emission or absorption of light. So obviously, any advances made in the manufacturing processes for these films could create both cost and technical efficiencies that would enable TFD’s to either consume less power, or generate more energy on an even cost basis for a given amount of light. This would be no small achievement if you consider the growing demand for efficient display screens, and the persistent cost barriers to all the solar panels that people are hoping to install in the very near Future. The exciting Science News here is that new discoveries in copper-based ‘Nano Tech’ are offering the first cheaper and efficient alternatives to existing methods that we’ve seen in quite awhile, and could genuinely change the surface of playing field if Cu-based nanotech can continue to overcome the hurdles of establishing a brand new TFD process.
Currently the status quo of TFD manufacturing is based in a predominance of electrode films made from Indium Tin Oxide (ITO), and this rather expensive method still has quite a few nagging drawbacks. First of all, ITO is pricey to process, it’s also brittle and thus fragile; so its production process remains highly inefficient; and it’s already an expensive technology that’s becoming even more costly because of the dual increases in market demand (scarcity) for both raw materials and the finished product. Currently the only alternatives we see on the horizon are coming from nano technology that uses either silver or carbon nano-tubes – which both remain highly cost prohibitive and difficult to produce. However a research team at Duke University have recently announced that they’ve perfected a method to grow nanowires from Copper, which promises to dramatically reduce not only the manufacturing demands for these thin films, but also allow for them to be much more flexible, durable, and cost efficient – Especially since copper is an abundant resource who’s price can’t be as easily cornered and manipulated by merchants and market forces…
Suspected anomalies discovered in article published at MIT News :
The ongoing, yet destructively repressed and polarized, debates between so called Climate Skeptics (and their ilk) VS. the popular proponents of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) may have cooled slightly in the post-Copenhagen lull. But questions around the scope of Scientific Method employed in determining AGW, are only now beginning to rise to the forefront of Public Consciousness.
The primary question has been to wonder if it’s indeed possible for ‘pure science’ (at least at the educational research level) to be bent or distorted in order to serve pre-ordained objectives.
So can science be bent around the points of peerage that are always subject to new review (according to said Method), to instead selectively support current states of research. In effect whatever specific agendas, that might tap into otherwise unavailable funding, or even simply to act as a public relations tool – in service of much larger visibility campaigns?
If we can possibly leave aside (just for now) the temporarily cooled question of Climate Change, we could look for signs of all of the above in a surprisingly exuberant article published on the MIT News site in July 2008 instead of wondering if science is above promoting itself for the sake of funding or notoriety.
Even though it’s exultant title wildly proclaims that a “Major Discovery from MIT is primed to unleash a Solar Revolution”! the hard science and empirical data or comparative results behind the article are thinly presented (at least from the Layman’s POV), and there still doesn’t seem to be much obvious evidence of wider public discourse or a proper ‘peer review’ process around this “major discovery” either.
Perhaps this is just the style employed for wider press releases via “MIT News”, however one would at least expect to see evidence of published papers/results, or at least links to some shared or foundation research. Perhaps MIT is operating under the principals of private enterprise, and it wouldn’t want to jeopardize plans to commercialize it’s discovery by giving away any un-patented trade secrets.
That last possibility would indicate that we’ve already seriously diverged out of the field of publicly funded research, and into corporately (privately?) held intellectual property. Perhaps someone could clarify the business model that supports MIT, or other such institutions to dispel any such naivete that could be evidenced here.
In any case, let’s try to leave commercial interests aside, and get back to some hard Science.