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Published on February 20th, 2009 | by Alex Felsinger

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Study: Iron Pyrite is No Fool's Gold for Solar Manufacturers

February 20th, 2009 by  


Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released a study this week concluding that the solar industry could use many cheaper and more abundant alternatives to silicon, including iron pyrite — most commonly known as fool’s gold.

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In total, the researchers found 23 alternative semiconductors, but only 12 are more easily found than silicon. Iron pyrite was named the most probable solution among those 12. Solar producers have often faced shortages of silicon, so even one new material would be a welcome jolt for the industry.

“We started looking at new materials because people often assume solar will be the dominant energy source of the future,” said Cyrus Wadia, who led the study. “But current solar technology may not get us there in a time frame that is meaningful, if at all. We must turn our attention back to basic science research if we are to solve the problem.”

Silicon alternatives already exist in thin-film solar panels made from cadmium telluride or copper indium gallium selenide, both of which are also extremely limited resources.

Via: Business Green
Photo Credit: anglerp1 on Flickr under Creative Commons license.


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is primarily concerned with animal welfare, wildlife conservation, and environmental justice. As a freelance writer in San Francisco, he leads a deliberately simplistic and thrifty lifestyle, yet still can’t help gawking at the newest green gadgets and zero-emission concept cars.



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