CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused
website
 in the world.


Clean Power sun rays

Published on September 17th, 2008 | by Ariel Schwartz

154

12 Year Old Boy Invents New Type of Solar Cell

Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

September 17th, 2008 by
 
sun rays

Now here’s a story that makes me feel profoundly unaccomplished: a 12 year old boy in Beaverton, Oregon recently developed a new type of 3D solar cell that makes other solar cells look inefficient by comparison.

William Yuan’s 3D cell can absorb both visible and UV light. According to his calculations, solar panels equipped with his 3D cells could provide 500 times more light absorption than current commercial solar cells and nine times more light than existing 3D solar cells.

>> Like this post, please subscribe for our main RSS feed or our Newsletter!

Yuan received a well-deserved $25,000 scholarship for his research. The next step? Getting his invention to market. Of course, the viability of his solar cells will ultimately depend on their cost efficiency—but Yuan has his whole life ahead of him to work on that.

You can check out the original press release here.

>> Calculate your own solar potential with Renewzle’s California solar power calculator.

Posts Related to Solar Tech:

Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

Print Friendly

Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

Tags: , ,


About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.



  • Prof. R.C.Srivastava

    I feel really happy to know about your 3D solar cell. I want detail technical literature to teach engineering students in India.

  • Pingback: Writing Great Content | IM Trolley

  • Pat

    I have some ideas on the materials used for this 3D panel to work and would like Yuan to corroborate and see if he was on same path. You cannot tell the world about this until you have it functional or the energy folk will hunt you down. Audio magnetics amplification ??

  • bd

    Hmmmm…

    Current solar cells have an efficiencies between 5 and 25%. 500 times 5% gives an efficiency of 250%, which means that the cell wil generate 250 watts out of every 100 watts coming in.

    Hope the cells are better than his calculations…

  • Eric Eatherton

    I’m thinking of sell it very soon for peaples homes. I already got some lookers.

  • Eric Eatherton

    I’m thinking of sell it very soon for peaples homes. I already got some lookers.

  • Eric Eatherton

    Im thinking of selling it should I? I work on this by my self I would like to talk or some thing may be

  • Eric Eatherton

    Im thinking of selling it should I? I work on this by my self I would like to talk or some thing may be

  • Eric Eatherton

    Im thinking of selling it should I? I work on this by my self I would like to talk or some thing may be

  • Eric Eatherton

    I can show what I am talking about if you need me to 1500 watts dc 5X5 in using bare silica waffers its a.

  • Eric Eatherton

    I can show what I am talking about if you need me to 1500 watts dc 5X5 in using bare silica waffers its a.

  • Cary

    He doesn’t quite have the rest of his life to work on it–most reputable climate scientists are predicting an ever-shortening window to address the climate crisis. If he could get his product to market in the next 5-7 years it could do some real good.

    Good job Yuan! Keep it up!

  • Cary

    He doesn’t quite have the rest of his life to work on it–most reputable climate scientists are predicting an ever-shortening window to address the climate crisis. If he could get his product to market in the next 5-7 years it could do some real good.

    Good job Yuan! Keep it up!

  • Cary

    He doesn’t quite have the rest of his life to work on it–most reputable climate scientists are predicting an ever-shortening window to address the climate crisis. If he could get his product to market in the next 5-7 years it could do some real good.

    Good job Yuan! Keep it up!

  • Nishit

    hey,

    thats a very interestin story,

    good job has been done by that little boy….

    hats of

  • Nishit

    hey,

    thats a very interestin story,

    good job has been done by that little boy….

    hats of

  • Nishit

    hey,

    thats a very interestin story,

    good job has been done by that little boy….

    hats of

  • paul bergman

    a dream come true now let us know how it works

  • paul bergman

    a dream come true now let us know how it works

  • Billy Jackson

    It is wonderful to see a student taking a real

    ________________________________________

    interest in science and math. We are also happy to hear of William’s interest in 3D solar cells. We encourage him to contact the Georgia Tech Research Institute so he may be connected with our lead researcher (Dr. Jud Ready), who would love for him to visit our laboratories to see how we create our photovoltaic cells. Who knows – maybe William can contribute to our groundbreaking work.

    ______________________________________________

    WOW!! did you really just say that!!! this kid just blew away your research and made something wonderful and all you have to say is “maybe he can contribute something to your groundbreaking work” .. give me a break please.. maybe you need to get off your ass and go see this kid so you can help solve our energy problems instead of looking for the next multibillion dollar payout.

  • Billy Jackson

    It is wonderful to see a student taking a real

    ________________________________________

    interest in science and math. We are also happy to hear of William’s interest in 3D solar cells. We encourage him to contact the Georgia Tech Research Institute so he may be connected with our lead researcher (Dr. Jud Ready), who would love for him to visit our laboratories to see how we create our photovoltaic cells. Who knows – maybe William can contribute to our groundbreaking work.

    ______________________________________________

    WOW!! did you really just say that!!! this kid just blew away your research and made something wonderful and all you have to say is “maybe he can contribute something to your groundbreaking work” .. give me a break please.. maybe you need to get off your ass and go see this kid so you can help solve our energy problems instead of looking for the next multibillion dollar payout.

  • Billy Jackson

    It is wonderful to see a student taking a real

    ________________________________________

    interest in science and math. We are also happy to hear of William’s interest in 3D solar cells. We encourage him to contact the Georgia Tech Research Institute so he may be connected with our lead researcher (Dr. Jud Ready), who would love for him to visit our laboratories to see how we create our photovoltaic cells. Who knows – maybe William can contribute to our groundbreaking work.

    ______________________________________________

    WOW!! did you really just say that!!! this kid just blew away your research and made something wonderful and all you have to say is “maybe he can contribute something to your groundbreaking work” .. give me a break please.. maybe you need to get off your ass and go see this kid so you can help solve our energy problems instead of looking for the next multibillion dollar payout.

  • http://www.gtri.gatech.edu Kirk Englehardt

    Thank you for your comments Ray.

    We have tried to contact the student through the Davidson Institute and through his school with no luck.

    We also requested further information from the Davidson Institute concerning the application that was “vetted” by it’s committee, any information they could share about the people on the committee and the names of the people who nominated him for the award. All of this in an attempt to simply determine if his work is unique and different – which we’re hopeful it is. True innovation on his part could lead to a wonderful collaborative relationship with our research team. Davidson told us (and I quote) “short of a subpoena we’re not providing you with anything.”

    So that’s where we stand.

  • http://www.gtri.gatech.edu Kirk Englehardt

    Thank you for your comments Ray.

    We have tried to contact the student through the Davidson Institute and through his school with no luck.

    We also requested further information from the Davidson Institute concerning the application that was “vetted” by it’s committee, any information they could share about the people on the committee and the names of the people who nominated him for the award. All of this in an attempt to simply determine if his work is unique and different – which we’re hopeful it is. True innovation on his part could lead to a wonderful collaborative relationship with our research team. Davidson told us (and I quote) “short of a subpoena we’re not providing you with anything.”

    So that’s where we stand.

  • Caroll

    I think the 500% increase is being incorrectly used. If we think of something that is 100% then it’s the same as the item being compared. A 500% increase is 5 times the efficiency. The numbers I’ve seen in the commercial solar cell industry are still 12 to 14% efficient. I also generally say the number of 1000 watts per meter as the amount of radiant energy available but that might be at sea level or just visable light. Anyway, if this cell can take us from 12% to 60% efficient that would mean a 1 meter panel would have an output of 600 watts and if anybody has held onto a paten that would do that since 2005 without mass producing them they should lose the paten or the cost of building the cells makes the paten worthless.

  • Caroll

    I think the 500% increase is being incorrectly used. If we think of something that is 100% then it’s the same as the item being compared. A 500% increase is 5 times the efficiency. The numbers I’ve seen in the commercial solar cell industry are still 12 to 14% efficient. I also generally say the number of 1000 watts per meter as the amount of radiant energy available but that might be at sea level or just visable light. Anyway, if this cell can take us from 12% to 60% efficient that would mean a 1 meter panel would have an output of 600 watts and if anybody has held onto a paten that would do that since 2005 without mass producing them they should lose the paten or the cost of building the cells makes the paten worthless.

  • Chris Robison

    Edward has a point — the article is seriously wrong about the potential energy collecting capacity of these cells.

    There is a finite amount of radiant energy available to be harvested in the sunlight falling on a given area. The average for the earth is about 1366 watts per square meter. Current commercial solar cells are around 20 percent efficient, meaning they can collect a fifth of that available energy. Ultra-expensive experimental cells can collect a third or more of the available energy to which they’re exposed.

    “500 times” the absorption of current commercial cells is simply not possible — you can’t absorb more energy than is there to begin with.

  • Chris Robison

    Edward has a point — the article is seriously wrong about the potential energy collecting capacity of these cells.

    There is a finite amount of radiant energy available to be harvested in the sunlight falling on a given area. The average for the earth is about 1366 watts per square meter. Current commercial solar cells are around 20 percent efficient, meaning they can collect a fifth of that available energy. Ultra-expensive experimental cells can collect a third or more of the available energy to which they’re exposed.

    “500 times” the absorption of current commercial cells is simply not possible — you can’t absorb more energy than is there to begin with.

  • dave

    People I think you are missing the point. The kid invented a panel that uses not just the photons but the ultraviolet rays as well. Therefore in the calculation you don’t just have the energy from the photons….think about it you braniacs

  • dave

    People I think you are missing the point. The kid invented a panel that uses not just the photons but the ultraviolet rays as well. Therefore in the calculation you don’t just have the energy from the photons….think about it you braniacs

    • 1231

      ultraviolet rays are f*kin electromagnetic waves too like visible lights! they are the same that they are inserted in an invisible packet of energy(photon)!

  • dave

    The comment about the 3d photo cell from Goergia Tech being the first is incorrect. The 2 technologies are not the same. The 3d cell from the 12 kid absorbs more than one frequency on light…so he called it 3d. The technology from Georgia Tech are tiny structures that increase the surface area of the panel. Again totaly diferent. The kids onto something and Goergia tech wants to claim they invented it…what else is new????????

  • dave

    The comment about the 3d photo cell from Goergia Tech being the first is incorrect. The 2 technologies are not the same. The 3d cell from the 12 kid absorbs more than one frequency on light…so he called it 3d. The technology from Georgia Tech are tiny structures that increase the surface area of the panel. Again totaly diferent. The kids onto something and Goergia tech wants to claim they invented it…what else is new????????

    • Tryt

      ”The 3d cell from the 12 kid absorbs more than one frequency on light…so he called it 3d.”

      lol! try to check if you are still on your way, 3d stands for 3 dimensional, uv rays is funny exception.

  • http://jonalist.bravehost.com/Jonalist.html Charles Jones

    Whether your operating in the real world with large solar array panels as a 3-D Pattern which collects Solar Energy in reflected wavelengths or in a Nano Environment where you are not a factor the same relationship is encountered, reflected light does not provide adequate energy and may not generate anything at all while this seems logically satisfying to non perfect Nano Tower Growth the reflected Solar Energy hardly can get into a alleyway between the Nano Towers as they are some more distant apart than others. This crude technological speculation therefore drives a motion to spin the cells and then run tests which would be a additional patent matter to resolve whether this 3-D Pattern could then offer a better collective area. Therefore a Hexagonal Spinning Device having 2-D Solar Cells affixed to it might top the uVolt range of non 3-D Solar Cells.

  • http://jonalist.bravehost.com/Jonalist.html Charles Jones

    Whether your operating in the real world with large solar array panels as a 3-D Pattern which collects Solar Energy in reflected wavelengths or in a Nano Environment where you are not a factor the same relationship is encountered, reflected light does not provide adequate energy and may not generate anything at all while this seems logically satisfying to non perfect Nano Tower Growth the reflected Solar Energy hardly can get into a alleyway between the Nano Towers as they are some more distant apart than others. This crude technological speculation therefore drives a motion to spin the cells and then run tests which would be a additional patent matter to resolve whether this 3-D Pattern could then offer a better collective area. Therefore a Hexagonal Spinning Device having 2-D Solar Cells affixed to it might top the uVolt range of non 3-D Solar Cells.

  • Michael

    Those who do the substantial work in science and engineering, developing something new – deserve the credit and rewards. When they publish, their intellectual property is sadly ripe for poaching and copying.

    That appears to be the case with what Georgia Tech developed, and this kid is using. It reminds me of the paper clip invention. Some guy added ridges and made $300k – none of which went to the original inventor.

  • Michael

    Those who do the substantial work in science and engineering, developing something new – deserve the credit and rewards. When they publish, their intellectual property is sadly ripe for poaching and copying.

    That appears to be the case with what Georgia Tech developed, and this kid is using. It reminds me of the paper clip invention. Some guy added ridges and made $300k – none of which went to the original inventor.

  • http://www.bgreen.com George

    That Guy is great, and someone’s here trying to hold onto 3D solar cell exclusively, “Kirk Englehardt” relating the 3D solar tech to Georgia Tech Research institute acade-mia’s, sorry Kirk, generations before 2004 this tech have been in use right in several remote villages and Green hills around the GLOBE and in aFRIKA specifically i am sure of. So laying claims of any exclusive intellectual proprty right = (Bio-Spiracy) to this because of any broaden pronouncement, will only detarr further advancement for the improvement of the Tech’s. Georgia Tech RI sholud as a matter of biz ethics negotiate for any such tech marketing franchize and not D/E right. Remember even inventions are mere development of what is already existing but maybe not popularly known, so men has never created anything, but only interpreted things.

  • http://www.bgreen.com George

    That Guy is great, and someone’s here trying to hold onto 3D solar cell exclusively, “Kirk Englehardt” relating the 3D solar tech to Georgia Tech Research institute acade-mia’s, sorry Kirk, generations before 2004 this tech have been in use right in several remote villages and Green hills around the GLOBE and in aFRIKA specifically i am sure of. So laying claims of any exclusive intellectual proprty right = (Bio-Spiracy) to this because of any broaden pronouncement, will only detarr further advancement for the improvement of the Tech’s. Georgia Tech RI sholud as a matter of biz ethics negotiate for any such tech marketing franchize and not D/E right. Remember even inventions are mere development of what is already existing but maybe not popularly known, so men has never created anything, but only interpreted things.

  • Professor

    Here are a few data points and links about the 3D Solar Cell, which was invented by Dr. Jud Ready of GA Tech in March 2005. See http://www.gatech.edu/newsroom/release.html?id=1337

    The 3D Solar Cell has the potential to be breakthrough in the solar industry. The global and exclusive license to the 3D Solar Cell intellectual property is held by IP2BIZ in Atlanta http://www.ip2biz.com/Offerings/ProofCoProjects.asp#ThreeDSolarCells The license is for sale to an firm that can further develop, manufacture and bring it to market.

    What is very interesting is if you look at the animation of Dr. Ready’s solar cell, at http://www-stage.gatech.edu/news-room/flash/CNTpv.html you’ll notice that the graphics in the photo of this Oregon boy’s presentation are the spitting image of Dr. Ready’s.

    Dr. Ready’s PCT patent application WO/2007/040594 was published in April 2007 at http://www.wipo.int/pctdb/en/fetch.jsp?LANG=ENG&DBSELECT=PCT&SERVER_TYPE=19-10&SORT=41238067-KEY&TYPE_FIELD=256&IDB=0&IDOC=1349795&C=10&ELEMENT_SET=B&RESULT=1&TOTAL=1&START=1&DISP=25&FORM=SEP-0/HITNUM,B-ENG,DP,MC,AN,PA,ABSUM-ENG&SEARCH_IA=US2006007290&QUERY=%28WO%2fwo2007040594%29+

  • Professor

    Here are a few data points and links about the 3D Solar Cell, which was invented by Dr. Jud Ready of GA Tech in March 2005. See http://www.gatech.edu/newsroom/release.html?id=1337

    The 3D Solar Cell has the potential to be breakthrough in the solar industry. The global and exclusive license to the 3D Solar Cell intellectual property is held by IP2BIZ in Atlanta http://www.ip2biz.com/Offerings/ProofCoProjects.asp#ThreeDSolarCells The license is for sale to an firm that can further develop, manufacture and bring it to market.

    What is very interesting is if you look at the animation of Dr. Ready’s solar cell, at http://www-stage.gatech.edu/news-room/flash/CNTpv.html you’ll notice that the graphics in the photo of this Oregon boy’s presentation are the spitting image of Dr. Ready’s.

    Dr. Ready’s PCT patent application WO/2007/040594 was published in April 2007 at http://www.wipo.int/pctdb/en/fetch.jsp?LANG=ENG&DBSELECT=PCT&SERVER_TYPE=19-10&SORT=41238067-KEY&TYPE_FIELD=256&IDB=0&IDOC=1349795&C=10&ELEMENT_SET=B&RESULT=1&TOTAL=1&START=1&DISP=25&FORM=SEP-0/HITNUM,B-ENG,DP,MC,AN,PA,ABSUM-ENG&SEARCH_IA=US2006007290&QUERY=%28WO%2fwo2007040594%29+

  • SolarBoy

    In Ecotopia Emerging a young scientist, Lou Swift, from a Californian town called Bolinas comes up with a solar panel that supplies an increasing amount of electrical output that would enable Americans to unhook from the power companies. She then joins the Survivalist Party, which was started in order to maintain the safety of the environment, along with her father Roger Swift. As the government learns of her plans to release this to the public they begin to try and break down the party….

    This kid is going to start world war III.

  • SolarBoy

    In Ecotopia Emerging a young scientist, Lou Swift, from a Californian town called Bolinas comes up with a solar panel that supplies an increasing amount of electrical output that would enable Americans to unhook from the power companies. She then joins the Survivalist Party, which was started in order to maintain the safety of the environment, along with her father Roger Swift. As the government learns of her plans to release this to the public they begin to try and break down the party….

    This kid is going to start world war III.

  • SolarBoy

    10 to 1 Tom Buscardi is involved in this.

  • SolarBoy

    10 to 1 Tom Buscardi is involved in this.

  • sandron

    Should you be out playing basketball ?

  • sandron

    Should you be out playing basketball ?

  • Susan Harding

    I do want to add a clarification to the story. I interviewed William for KATU-TV, and he told me that he analyzed the 3D cells developed by Georgia Tech and Notre Dame. He made his own modifications, creating what he says is the first 3D solar cell that transforms both visible light and UV rays. He also says the ones he developed were more efficient. Experts in nanotechnology at Portland State reviewed his work, as well as professors who judged his work for the Davidson scholarship he received. I wish I could have included all of that info in my piece, but I only get 90 seconds to tell it on TV.

    Thanks for your interest. And he definitely made me feel like a mental midget!

  • Susan Harding

    I do want to add a clarification to the story. I interviewed William for KATU-TV, and he told me that he analyzed the 3D cells developed by Georgia Tech and Notre Dame. He made his own modifications, creating what he says is the first 3D solar cell that transforms both visible light and UV rays. He also says the ones he developed were more efficient. Experts in nanotechnology at Portland State reviewed his work, as well as professors who judged his work for the Davidson scholarship he received. I wish I could have included all of that info in my piece, but I only get 90 seconds to tell it on TV.

    Thanks for your interest. And he definitely made me feel like a mental midget!

  • Jennifer

    Edward, it collects 500 times more light, it isn’t 500 times more efficient.

  • Jennifer

    Edward, it collects 500 times more light, it isn’t 500 times more efficient.

  • http://www.hyperphotocube.com Tesseract

    When I was twelve I was a smart kid too, eventually I reached the regional science fair and won third place for my division. However none of the research projects there could compare to what this kid did, in cost (is this a theory or did he actually make it) or complexity (seriously, nanotech is like rocket science).

    I’m all for young people to achieve but going from lego to nanotechnology is one big leap (or small leap if you really think about it). There is the inherent cost, years of research that is needed to understand all the advance math. Plus development time. None of which I see in the attached article (seriously – 12 years old and he’s “inventing” that kind of technology and outdoing PHD’s in that field?) I think if this was completely true we would of heard about this kid a long time ago.

    I would mark this as suspicious or a bit of an over-exaggeration (is he the only name on the patent?) as he would have to be a machine to do all that in only 12 years (plus all those other activities he lists as doing – stuff does take time!). At least until its verified by an independent research or science organization.

    Also if the cells live up to the hype, $25,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to what he will make for the technology – especially with the boost solar cells are going to get with the new silicon glass they can use that costs significantly less than the semiconductor-grade silicon they have been using in the past.

  • http://www.hyperphotocube.com Tesseract

    When I was twelve I was a smart kid too, eventually I reached the regional science fair and won third place for my division. However none of the research projects there could compare to what this kid did, in cost (is this a theory or did he actually make it) or complexity (seriously, nanotech is like rocket science).

    I’m all for young people to achieve but going from lego to nanotechnology is one big leap (or small leap if you really think about it). There is the inherent cost, years of research that is needed to understand all the advance math. Plus development time. None of which I see in the attached article (seriously – 12 years old and he’s “inventing” that kind of technology and outdoing PHD’s in that field?) I think if this was completely true we would of heard about this kid a long time ago.

    I would mark this as suspicious or a bit of an over-exaggeration (is he the only name on the patent?) as he would have to be a machine to do all that in only 12 years (plus all those other activities he lists as doing – stuff does take time!). At least until its verified by an independent research or science organization.

    Also if the cells live up to the hype, $25,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to what he will make for the technology – especially with the boost solar cells are going to get with the new silicon glass they can use that costs significantly less than the semiconductor-grade silicon they have been using in the past.

  • Geremy

    I dont believe this, where is the evidence?

    This is not a creditable source….. BS

    P.S. My grandma invented a time machine!

  • remowill

    This is really great. All the statistics show that american kids are behind the 8 ball when it comes to science. I guess that’s not true in Oregon.

  • Geremy

    I dont believe this, where is the evidence?

    This is not a creditable source….. BS

    P.S. My grandma invented a time machine!

  • http://is.gd/Fo2/979291598 design

    Wow… And at 12 years old, I was… not inventing 3d Solar Cells.

  • http://is.gd/Fo2/979291598 design

    Wow… And at 12 years old, I was… not inventing 3d Solar Cells.

    • themaskedmarvel

      Yes, I, too, was not doing an amazing number of things.
      I did read a lot of comic books though….
      maybe not something to brag about…..

  • SolarBoy

    3D carbon nanotubes aren’t a new invention. But it will be interesting to see how he gets 9x output, if indeed he did.

  • SolarBoy

    3D carbon nanotubes aren’t a new invention. But it will be interesting to see how he gets 9x output, if indeed he did.

  • sam

    Edward…

    Read again.. it doesn’t say 500times more efficient it says 500 times more light. big difference.

  • sam

    Edward…

    Read again.. it doesn’t say 500times more efficient it says 500 times more light. big difference.

  • Ray

    Hey Kirk Englehardt,

    1. I believe the report indicates the kid developed a new type of 3D solar cell. Tehrefore, your “clarification” may be pointless.

    2. He is 12. From the looks of things, perhaps Georgia Tech and Dr. Jud Ready should get in touch with him.

  • Ramona

    I work with students all day in Science, and I will be sharing this artical with them this week.

    Your on the right road, keep up the great work and living the dream. Thank you for being here.

  • Ray

    Hey Kirk Englehardt,

    1. I believe the report indicates the kid developed a new type of 3D solar cell. Tehrefore, your “clarification” may be pointless.

    2. He is 12. From the looks of things, perhaps Georgia Tech and Dr. Jud Ready should get in touch with him.

  • Scott

    But i can see Russia!

  • Scott

    But i can see Russia!

  • Robert

    In a time when alot of innercity kids are carrying guns to school and getting mixed up with gangs,drugs and really messing up there lives its refreshing to see a kid so young so interested in something that makes no sense to most of the world. I mean i have heard of solar power but how it works is beyond me. Good Job Kid. I guess you’ll have a free ride at M.I.T and you probably deserve it.

  • Robert

    In a time when alot of innercity kids are carrying guns to school and getting mixed up with gangs,drugs and really messing up there lives its refreshing to see a kid so young so interested in something that makes no sense to most of the world. I mean i have heard of solar power but how it works is beyond me. Good Job Kid. I guess you’ll have a free ride at M.I.T and you probably deserve it.

  • Tom B

    Hey…idiots who are pooh-poohing about efficiency ect…

    How about you re-res think before you open your mouths….The article does not say “500 times more efficiency”…it says “500 times more light absorption”…

    They are different things! They are interconnected so to speak, but they are NOT THE SAME THING.

    Efficiency refers to how well the cell does at converting the sunlight into electricity, light absorption means just that; how much light it absorbs overall.

    Now, I’m no scientist (I’m a heroin addicted high school dropout)…but it makes sense to me that a “3-d” cell would absorb much more than a “2-d” cell based on more “surface area” ect…

    True the “500 times” factor may be off, it’s hard to say…especially since “light absorption” isn’t as concretely defined as efficiency…but it’s certainly PLAUSIBLE.

    Seriously guys…think before you open your mouth, and you won’t find yourself extracting your foot from it so often…

  • Tom B

    Hey…idiots who are pooh-poohing about efficiency ect…

    How about you re-res think before you open your mouths….The article does not say “500 times more efficiency”…it says “500 times more light absorption”…

    They are different things! They are interconnected so to speak, but they are NOT THE SAME THING.

    Efficiency refers to how well the cell does at converting the sunlight into electricity, light absorption means just that; how much light it absorbs overall.

    Now, I’m no scientist (I’m a heroin addicted high school dropout)…but it makes sense to me that a “3-d” cell would absorb much more than a “2-d” cell based on more “surface area” ect…

    True the “500 times” factor may be off, it’s hard to say…especially since “light absorption” isn’t as concretely defined as efficiency…but it’s certainly PLAUSIBLE.

    Seriously guys…think before you open your mouth, and you won’t find yourself extracting your foot from it so often…

  • Matt

    Kirk,

    Thanks for your clarification on the development of the 3d solar cell technology. I’m so happy to see that public money goes to the development of such technology, and then it is turned around the locked down thru patents and held by private corporation(s) in effort to make a profit, instead of shared freely with all in the interested of humanity and energy independence.

    Yeah. Thanks a lot.

  • Matt

    Kirk,

    Thanks for your clarification on the development of the 3d solar cell technology. I’m so happy to see that public money goes to the development of such technology, and then it is turned around the locked down thru patents and held by private corporation(s) in effort to make a profit, instead of shared freely with all in the interested of humanity and energy independence.

    Yeah. Thanks a lot.

  • Jim

    Hopefully it doesn’t take too long to figure out the cost efficiency.

    He needs to nail that shit down asap. Amidst the economic meltdowns and energy crises, things like this make me optimistic.

  • Jim

    Hopefully it doesn’t take too long to figure out the cost efficiency.

    He needs to nail that shit down asap. Amidst the economic meltdowns and energy crises, things like this make me optimistic.

  • remowill

    This is really great. All the statistics show that american kids are behind the 8 ball when it comes to science. I guess that’s not true in Oregon.

  • Mark Nohner

    Well lets hope it doesn’t take his lifetime to develop this technology.

  • Mark Nohner

    Well lets hope it doesn’t take his lifetime to develop this technology.

  • kate

    Edward, I hope you’re kidding with the 40% times 500 comment. Good job coming up with 40×500=20,000… but that’s not how it works.

    His cells provide 500 times the light absorbtion, not 500x the efficiency.

    If you read the press release, it says they are DOUBLE (meaning 2x) the conversion efficiency of previous models.

  • kate

    Edward, I hope you’re kidding with the 40% times 500 comment. Good job coming up with 40×500=20,000… but that’s not how it works.

    His cells provide 500 times the light absorbtion, not 500x the efficiency.

    If you read the press release, it says they are DOUBLE (meaning 2x) the conversion efficiency of previous models.

  • Greg

    All we need now is a more efficient combustion engine… I won’t hold my breath.

  • Greg

    All we need now is a more efficient combustion engine… I won’t hold my breath.

  • DL

    @Kirk: Did you read the article? It’s nice that you fellows at Georgia Tech invented some 3D solar cells and it is cutting-edge. The article doesn’t say this kid invented 3D solar cells, it says he invented “a new type of 3D solar cell” and that it absorbs “nine times more light than existing 3D solar cells”. The linked article also refers to “cutting-edge” 3D solar cells.

    So, the implication is that if Georgia Tech is making cutting-edge 3D solar cells, this kid is doing 9 times better than you. Maybe you can contribute to his groundbreaking work.

    Of course, as an engineer I’m always wary of claims in the press that sensationalize things like this, and an experienced engineer might look at what he’s done and find it’s useless. That’s always a possibility. But to start out with that assumption is unfounded.

  • DL

    @Kirk: Did you read the article? It’s nice that you fellows at Georgia Tech invented some 3D solar cells and it is cutting-edge. The article doesn’t say this kid invented 3D solar cells, it says he invented “a new type of 3D solar cell” and that it absorbs “nine times more light than existing 3D solar cells”. The linked article also refers to “cutting-edge” 3D solar cells.

    So, the implication is that if Georgia Tech is making cutting-edge 3D solar cells, this kid is doing 9 times better than you. Maybe you can contribute to his groundbreaking work.

    Of course, as an engineer I’m always wary of claims in the press that sensationalize things like this, and an experienced engineer might look at what he’s done and find it’s useless. That’s always a possibility. But to start out with that assumption is unfounded.

  • Pingback: nerdd.net | news and opinion

  • Glen

    Photovoltaic arrays are more than ‘nano towers’ or 3D cells and a “concept” is different from a “proof”.

    Practical application, has yet to determine if this “could provide 500 times more light absorption”, it sounds wonderful but remains just a “concept”.

    William is gifted. Partly due to Men of 8-18 years, being able to utilise their minds ability, being free from adult conditioning and associated life traumas.

    Personally at age 11, my ability to understand bases and positional numeral systems, provided foundation for learning assembly programming (Intel 8080 Chip set with MS-DOS v1.1), mainly so I could reverse engineer games and have better high scores ;)

    William has an impressive CV for anyone, being age 12 or 30, yet it is outside of “concepts”, which will determine his destiny.

    Being another factory line software developer or contributing scientific achievements which benefit all mankind, are not so radical or different from the efficiency speculations expressed here.

  • Glen

    Photovoltaic arrays are more than ‘nano towers’ or 3D cells and a “concept” is different from a “proof”.

    Practical application, has yet to determine if this “could provide 500 times more light absorption”, it sounds wonderful but remains just a “concept”.

    William is gifted. Partly due to Men of 8-18 years, being able to utilise their minds ability, being free from adult conditioning and associated life traumas.

    Personally at age 11, my ability to understand bases and positional numeral systems, provided foundation for learning assembly programming (Intel 8080 Chip set with MS-DOS v1.1), mainly so I could reverse engineer games and have better high scores ;)

    William has an impressive CV for anyone, being age 12 or 30, yet it is outside of “concepts”, which will determine his destiny.

    Being another factory line software developer or contributing scientific achievements which benefit all mankind, are not so radical or different from the efficiency speculations expressed here.

  • L. Nielsen

    Now wait a minute. According to Wikipedia, even the least efficient amorphous silicon-based solar cells have a convertion efficiency of 6%. At x500 efficiency, apparently his magnificent new cells put out 2900% more energy than the incoming light contains. Also, the sentence ‘…and nine times more light than existing 3D solar cells’ seems to imply that the cells are emissive, which is clearly not the case.

    Nevertheless, it’s a commendable effort for which the young Mr. Yuan deserves all possible praise.

  • L. Nielsen

    Now wait a minute. According to Wikipedia, even the least efficient amorphous silicon-based solar cells have a convertion efficiency of 6%. At x500 efficiency, apparently his magnificent new cells put out 2900% more energy than the incoming light contains. Also, the sentence ‘…and nine times more light than existing 3D solar cells’ seems to imply that the cells are emissive, which is clearly not the case.

    Nevertheless, it’s a commendable effort for which the young Mr. Yuan deserves all possible praise.

  • Jiff Wilson

    Wow, now that is one smart kid. Lucky parents. My kid is as dumb as a box of rocks and only cares about socializing. Must be nice.

    Jiff

    http://www.anonymize.us.tc

  • Jiff Wilson

    Wow, now that is one smart kid. Lucky parents. My kid is as dumb as a box of rocks and only cares about socializing. Must be nice.

    Jiff

    http://www.anonymize.us.tc

  • http://sunthoughts2007.com Sun

    Awwwwe…the rare child prodigy.

  • http://sunthoughts2007.com Sun

    Awwwwe…the rare child prodigy.

  • zzzzzzz

    “Now here’s a story that makes me feel profoundly unaccomplished”

    Tell me about it. Even worse for me as I grew up there

  • zzzzzzz

    “Now here’s a story that makes me feel profoundly unaccomplished”

    Tell me about it. Even worse for me as I grew up there

  • John T. Woods

    Glad to see something awesome coming out of Beaverton, my home town.

  • http://www.indie-inside.com pat

    Awesome, i just bookmarked this site

  • http://www.indie-inside.com pat

    Awesome, i just bookmarked this site

  • http://www.indie-inside.com pat

    awesome!

  • http://www.indie-inside.com pat

    awesome!

  • http://www.indie-inside.com pat

    thats crazy! i like this blog site and am going to bookmark it.

  • http://www.indie-inside.com pat

    thats crazy! i like this blog site and am going to bookmark it.

  • S.o.G.

    How can it provide 500 times more light absorption? That would imply that current solar cells absorb less than 0.2%, which is clearly not the case.

  • S.o.G.

    How can it provide 500 times more light absorption? That would imply that current solar cells absorb less than 0.2%, which is clearly not the case.

  • http://rebelmodel.com/tsa/ Trollkiller

    10 to 1 the kid is home schooled.

  • http://rebelmodel.com/tsa/ Trollkiller

    10 to 1 the kid is home schooled.

    • themaskedmarvel

      I know, he needs the public school system to dumb him down and hold him back like it did the rest of us…..

      • Bob_Wallace

        Many of our best and brightest went through the public school system.
        Perhaps you should take personal responsibility for your dumbing down.

  • Max M

    “500 times more light absorption than current commercial solar cells” So to keep the efficiency under 100%, the current cells should have an efficiency lower than 100% / 500 = 0.2% ??? Hmmm!!!!

  • Max M

    “500 times more light absorption than current commercial solar cells” So to keep the efficiency under 100%, the current cells should have an efficiency lower than 100% / 500 = 0.2% ??? Hmmm!!!!

  • bd

    Hmmmm…

    Current solar cells have an efficiencies between 5 and 25%. 500 times 5% gives an efficiency of 250%, which means that the cell wil generate 250 watts out of every 100 watts coming in.

    Hope the cells are better than his calculations…

  • Richard Ramsey

    Yuan reminds me of Philo Farnsworth, who invented electronic television and demonstrated it in 1928.

    Apparently, the young Philo was watching the sun come up, when the idea came to him, and he rushed to school to tell his teacher. The sun was lighting up his family potato field row-by-row, just like the electron gun does inside the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT).

    Efficient batteries are exactly what our new technology requires – see the Tesla all-electric roadster, for example. It uses lithium batteries.

  • Richard Ramsey

    Yuan reminds me of Philo Farnsworth, who invented electronic television and demonstrated it in 1928.

    Apparently, the young Philo was watching the sun come up, when the idea came to him, and he rushed to school to tell his teacher. The sun was lighting up his family potato field row-by-row, just like the electron gun does inside the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT).

    Efficient batteries are exactly what our new technology requires – see the Tesla all-electric roadster, for example. It uses lithium batteries.

  • bruce

    that’s freaking amazing, now if we just make a farm out of those and put one on top of every car……

  • bruce

    that’s freaking amazing, now if we just make a farm out of those and put one on top of every car……

  • bruce

    that’s freaking amazing, now if we just make a farm out of those and put one on top of every car……

  • Dave

    Pics or it didn’t happen.

  • Dave

    Pics or it didn’t happen.

  • Dave

    Pics or it didn’t happen.

  • relativityboy

    Wasn’t there something like this in the book Ecotopia Emerging? Only it was a girl in the book

  • relativityboy

    Wasn’t there something like this in the book Ecotopia Emerging? Only it was a girl in the book

  • http://winningeveryone.com Daniel Richard

    Woah that’s a very amazing feat for someone at that age. :)

  • http://winningeveryone.com Daniel Richard

    Woah that’s a very amazing feat for someone at that age. :)

  • Ensign

    As commercial solar cells are pushing into the 30%+ efficiency range, with cutting edge technologies now in the low 40%s, any calculations claiming 500x improvement are wildly distorted at best and flat-out wrong at worst.

  • Ensign

    As commercial solar cells are pushing into the 30%+ efficiency range, with cutting edge technologies now in the low 40%s, any calculations claiming 500x improvement are wildly distorted at best and flat-out wrong at worst.

  • http://theenergysavings.com J.Janson

    inventing is one thing, putting it into practical use or market is another. We’ve seen alot of this kind of invention go down the drain. perhaps big corporation can pick up the idea and go from there.

  • http://theenergysavings.com J.Janson

    inventing is one thing, putting it into practical use or market is another. We’ve seen alot of this kind of invention go down the drain. perhaps big corporation can pick up the idea and go from there.

  • http://theenergysavings.com J.Janson

    inventing is one thing, putting it into practical use or market is another. We’ve seen alot of this kind of invention go down the drain. perhaps big corporation can pick up the idea and go from there.

  • Ariel Schwartz

    Dan,

    Thanks for your comment. There is a link to the original article in the first sentence of the post. Additionally, this was never meant to be an in-depth exploration of the subject – just a fun little piece. We try to provide variety in subject and length, and honestly, I would have much preferred one of our lengthier posts (such as the one previous to this) to make it to the front page of digg.

  • Max

    Beaverton.. Home of Nike, you’ve had your time to shine, bud.

  • Max

    Beaverton.. Home of Nike, you’ve had your time to shine, bud.

  • Max

    Beaverton.. Home of Nike, you’ve had your time to shine, bud.

  • Jesus Yamato

    I thought of a similar idea, but with mirrors in it somewhere and still older than this guy. It’s good to see that’s there’s still some promise in the future.

  • Jesus Yamato

    I thought of a similar idea, but with mirrors in it somewhere and still older than this guy. It’s good to see that’s there’s still some promise in the future.

  • Jesus Yamato

    I thought of a similar idea, but with mirrors in it somewhere and still older than this guy. It’s good to see that’s there’s still some promise in the future.

  • http://www.solarpowerrocks.com Dan

    Ariel,

    I like your blog and your logo. Some of your articles are really good. However, as I see it, there really wasn’t any content to this post, nor did you provide any links to the story. Seems a little odd that it made it to the Digg front page. If you know some power user there, perhaps you could introduce him/her to our blog too. We’ve been putting together strings of great posts about solar legislation and new technology with a lot of graphics, sources, and irreverent humor.

    http://www.solarpowerrocks.com

    Cheers,

    - Dan

    Cheers,

    - Dan

  • http://www.solarpowerrocks.com Dan

    Ariel,

    I like your blog and your logo. Some of your articles are really good. However, as I see it, there really wasn’t any content to this post, nor did you provide any links to the story. Seems a little odd that it made it to the Digg front page. If you know some power user there, perhaps you could introduce him/her to our blog too. We’ve been putting together strings of great posts about solar legislation and new technology with a lot of graphics, sources, and irreverent humor.

    http://www.solarpowerrocks.com

    Cheers,

    - Dan

    Cheers,

    - Dan

  • http://www.solarpowerrocks.com Dan

    Ariel,

    I like your blog and your logo. Some of your articles are really good. However, as I see it, there really wasn’t any content to this post, nor did you provide any links to the story. Seems a little odd that it made it to the Digg front page. If you know some power user there, perhaps you could introduce him/her to our blog too. We’ve been putting together strings of great posts about solar legislation and new technology with a lot of graphics, sources, and irreverent humor.

    http://www.solarpowerrocks.com

    Cheers,

    - Dan

    Cheers,

    - Dan

  • Edward

    That doesn’t make any sense. The best current solar cells are 40% efficient. 500 times that is 20,000% efficient.

  • Edward

    That doesn’t make any sense. The best current solar cells are 40% efficient. 500 times that is 20,000% efficient.

  • Edward

    That doesn’t make any sense. The best current solar cells are 40% efficient. 500 times that is 20,000% efficient.

  • York

    Glad to see that the American Idol fiasco wasn’t the end of the line for him :)

  • York

    Glad to see that the American Idol fiasco wasn’t the end of the line for him :)

  • veebnok

    good luck w/ that, kid…..your dad help you w/ that?

  • veebnok

    good luck w/ that, kid…..your dad help you w/ that?

  • veebnok

    good luck w/ that, kid…..your dad help you w/ that?

  • John T. Woods

    Glad to see something awesome coming out of Beaverton, my home town.

  • http://www.gtri.gatech.edu Kirk Englehardt

    Thank you for sharing this very interesting story. There is, however, a clarification that needs to be added.

    The 3D solar cell was invented several years ago at the Georgia Tech Research Institute by our team of world-class scientists and engineers.

    The Georgia Tech Research Institute (www.gtri.gatech.edu) has been making 3D solar cell prototypes of this design since 2004. You can read about the work in our April 2007 news release online at http://www.gtri.gatech.edu/casestudy/3d-solar-cells-boost-efficiency. Our work has patents pending in the US and abroad. We have also published our research widely in an number of highly regarded research journals including the Journal of Applied Physics, Journal of Materials and Carbon.

    The 3D Solar Cell has the potential to be breakthrough in the solar industry. The global and exclusive license to the 3D Solar Cell intellectual property is held by IP2BIZ in Atlanta http://www.ip2biz.com/Offerings/ProofCoProjects.a… The license is currently for sale to any firm that can further develop, manufacture and bring it to market.

    It is wonderful to see a student taking a real interest in science and math. We are also happy to hear of William’s interest in 3D solar cells. We encourage him to contact the Georgia Tech Research Institute so he may be connected with our lead researcher (Dr. Jud Ready), who would love for him to visit our laboratories to see how we create our photovoltaic cells. Who knows – maybe William can contribute to our groundbreaking work.

  • http://www.gtri.gatech.edu Kirk Englehardt

    Thank you for sharing this very interesting story. There is, however, a clarification that needs to be added.

    The 3D solar cell was invented several years ago at the Georgia Tech Research Institute by our team of world-class scientists and engineers.

    The Georgia Tech Research Institute (www.gtri.gatech.edu) has been making 3D solar cell prototypes of this design since 2004. You can read about the work in our April 2007 news release online at http://www.gtri.gatech.edu/casestudy/3d-solar-cells-boost-efficiency. Our work has patents pending in the US and abroad. We have also published our research widely in an number of highly regarded research journals including the Journal of Applied Physics, Journal of Materials and Carbon.

    The 3D Solar Cell has the potential to be breakthrough in the solar industry. The global and exclusive license to the 3D Solar Cell intellectual property is held by IP2BIZ in Atlanta http://www.ip2biz.com/Offerings/ProofCoProjects.a… The license is currently for sale to any firm that can further develop, manufacture and bring it to market.

    It is wonderful to see a student taking a real interest in science and math. We are also happy to hear of William’s interest in 3D solar cells. We encourage him to contact the Georgia Tech Research Institute so he may be connected with our lead researcher (Dr. Jud Ready), who would love for him to visit our laboratories to see how we create our photovoltaic cells. Who knows – maybe William can contribute to our groundbreaking work.

  • http://weheartworld.com JD Rucker

    I invented a new power source when I was 12… for my GI Joes.

  • http://weheartworld.com JD Rucker

    I invented a new power source when I was 12… for my GI Joes.

  • http://weheartworld.com JD Rucker

    I invented a new power source when I was 12… for my GI Joes.

Back to Top ↑