Ember Sheds Light on Solar Cell Research

By Nicole Hemsoth

September 8, 2011

Renewable solar energy has the potential to allow for drastic reductions in emissions, but despite the best efforts to bring costs down for solar cells, this technology remains out of reach for many.

Researchers are working to change this by looking for organic materials that can produce the same effect efficiently. As it stands now, there are a number of known organic materials that can act as solar cells but they are far less effective than the manmade materials used in solar technologies.

According to Aimee Tomlinson, a chemistry researcher from North Georgia College and State University and her colleague at Iowa State University, “organic materials provide several benefits over their inorganic analogs.” She says that producing organic materials for solar cells has a reduced impact on the environment and with the naturally plastic nature of these materials, they can be used in a wide range of settings without fear of breakage.

Tomlinson and her team are using the Ember supercomputer at NCSA and 200,000 compute hours they received from the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) program to further study a number of organic materials and their viability to act as affordable, low-impact solar cells.

As ISGTW reported, “Quantum mechanical computations that could take as long as a week to solve on a typical computer can be solved in as little as an hour via XSEDE. Thanks to their access to advanced computing, they were able to identify a few compounds that show particular promise for use in solar cells.”

XSEDE is a single virtual system that scientists can use to interactively share computing resources and data as well as collaborate. The goal of XSEDE is to lower “technological barriers to the access and use of computing resources. Using XSEDE, researchers can establish private, secure environments that have all the resources, services, and collaboration support they need to be productive.”

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