VOLKER STEGER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY VOLKER STEGER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Nanowire solar cell. This solar cell is coated with billions of tiny nanowires, each measuring 60 nanometres (billionths of a metre) in diameter and 20 micrometres (thousandths of a metre) in length. These artificially grown crystal filaments can convert light energy into electricity. They were created by coating a glass surface with zinc oxide 'dots' that grew into nanowires when bathed in zinc oxide solution. The nanowires were then dipped in light absorbing dye and connected to electrodes. Nanowire solar cells are cheaper to build than silicon-based cells, however they have yet to match the same energy conversion efficiency. This device was built by chemist Peidong Yang and his team at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. Photographed in 2008.
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