Solar power definitely has a place in the energy mix but it is not the magic technology that many green advocates think it is.
However, in solar cell manufacturing, we are seeing advances in cutting-edge components and nanotech fabrication devices used in generating solar power.
In order to understand these advances, it is best to have a little background on the printable electronics technology.
In the early 1400s, German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg invented the moveable-type printing press. This invention did far more than facilitate book production and increase the availability of knowledge. It started an IT (information technology) revolution that continues to accelerate even today.
In Gutenberg’s era, his advances in lithography not only increased access to the world’s greatest thinkers but it put practical business and technical knowledge in the hands of commoners. This seemingly insignificant invention smashed monopolies of thought and political power. The result was exponential growth in science, technology, and democratic ideals. The Renaissance and the Enlightenment followed and continues up to our present era.
We have already seen a series of printed circuit lithography technologies revolutionize the electronics industry. Every electronic device you own, from your television to your mobile phone, contains lithographically printed circuit board of one form or another. Like many of the transformational technologies of the last century, it was invented during the Great Depression.
Historically, downturns have been enormously creative times for technology advances. Our current economic mess will be no exception. Economic pressures are forcing reassessments and hard, creative choices. The result will be an explosion of breakthrough technologies. Some just published findings, from a Nobel laureate economist who has been studying previous business cycles, predicts that the recovery from our current mess will be unparalleled and spectacular.
However, inventing transformational manufacturing technologies is probably the hardest part of bringing new and more powerful products to market.
Unlike the previous generation of printed circuit boards, new developments in electronics manufacturing are using far more common materials. Unlike the printed circuit boards of the past, in which only the electrically conductive pathways were printed on a board, printable electronics will also produce components such as capacitors and transistors.
Researchers have already invented ways to print out capacitors using a CNT (carbon nanotube) ink. These printed capacitors will be used to power mobile devices. Once the technology becomes sufficiently inexpensive and advanced, you will be able to download the schematic for an electronic device and print it out yourself. These next-generation printable electronics will be far more powerful than current forms and will incorporate the latest revolutionary advances in the semiconductor field such as memristors and memcapacitors.
Xerox has developed a silver-based conductive ink that can be printed on everything from plastics to textiles. Instead of expensive fabrication facilities, specialized ink jet printers will be able to print circuits that could be used as part of flexible signage, radio frequency identifier tags, and even novelty clothing.
Beyond logic circuits, energy storage devices will be printable as well. Recent developments at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York will enable paper and CNT based batteries. Researchers from Stanford have been able to take a paper substrate and coat it with an ink made of silver and carbon nanotubes to create working “paper batteries.”
Paper-based batteries charge and discharge quickly, making them suitable for a wide variety of technologies. Together, these breakthroughs herald an era of ultra-cheap, easily manufactured energy storage.
Another breakthrough in the printable electronics revolution is a silicon ink that can be used to print solar cells on a flexible substrate at higher rates of production than most current solar cell manufacturing technologies. The conversion rate which measures the efficiency of converting sunlight to electricity for these printed solar cells is about equal to current technologies. This enormously creative technology, where silicon-based photovoltaic cells are printed, has nowhere to go but up. It will be an increasingly attractive technology to supplement, in a low cost way, mainstream electricity generation.
I trust this post is providing some background and evidence that powerful breakthroughs in nanotech lithography are underway and that transformative technology could hand you transformational wealth for decades to come.
In closing, I favor a quote from Steve Forbes. Forbes says that pursuing additional financial education and the resulting increase in our financial literacy (including the investment potential of breakthrough technology) will open our eyes to alternative wealth creating strategies and this will be the key to resolving our financial crisis.
To gain the necessary financial education, it is best to obtain association with, access to, and membership in a wealth creation community. As a result, you will learn and have the knowledge to use alternative wealth creating strategies such as Bank on Yourself, debt reduction, and asset protection. You will be exposed to wealth acceleration investments with items such as nanotech lithography, robotics, nano-based next-generation battery technology, precious metals, water rights, oil, natural gas, potash mines, food commodities, and gold mines. You will have the knowledge to consider investments in energy assets that are inherently useful like oil rigs, hydropower, or methanol plants; things that are hard to build, difficult to replace, and costly to substitute; definitely not financial stocks, definitely not retail stocks, definitely not commercial property.
It is wise to monitor breakthrough technology as there are truly exciting developments afoot in the field of nanotech lithography. I will continue to monitor developments and provide updates in future articles and at my blog over the next few weeks.
In closing, I want to thank Patrick Cox of Breakthrough Technology Alerts as he was the source of some of the materials about the technology advancements mentioned in this post.