NRC is bright light in solar innovation
Scientists at the National Research Council never sleep, it seems.
The Ottawa based research establishment is spinning off discoveries that could lead to new product ideas, new companies and new jobs. These potential breakthroughs ride on science that is incomprehensible to most, but the potential is real.
Consider the possibility of thin, flexible solar film capturing energy on shopping bags, store awnings and the backs of tents. Another NRC Nike Air Max discovery is a new approach to networking security that frustrates hackers with an endless range of encryption possibilities.
The timing is right for solar innovation. The rigid solar panel industry is in serious trouble because production is running ahead of demand, at least for now, putting some players into bankruptcy and discouraging investors.
For several years, NRC scientists have been seeking cheaper, more flexible ways to Nike Air Max harness the power of the sun. Rigid panels are still the efficiency leader, with the ability to convert up to 28% of the sun energy. The new alternatives based on thin organic polymer plastics are only about 25% as efficient, but performance is rising quickly. The NRC says they also bring significant benefits: They are less brittle, more r Nike Air Max esistant to environmental degradation and cheaper to make through mass production. Recent NRC research significantly increased the amount of plastic solar film that can be produced. NRC scientist Dr. Ta Ya Chu said the new solar cells were 12 times bigger and more efficient than earlier versions. larger the active area, the closer they are to manufacturing reality, he said in an NRC statement.
The technology can convert 7.1% of the sun energy into electricity, a world record for the technology.
The NRC is part of a consortium that includes Laval University, Nike Air Max StJean Photo chemicals near Montreal and Massachusetts based Konarka Inc., which has raised $150 million in funding. Sustainable Development Technology Canada, a federal funding agency, put up some of the cash. Konarka is already marketing some flexible solar products.
The latest idea in networking security comes from an NRC physics lab in Ottawa and work on quantum mechanics, the study of how the world operates at the tiniest particle level. Scientists fired lasers through tiny pieces of diamond and measured the results. The differences between the light entering and exiting the diamonds generates random numbers at incredible volumes.
It also about 1,000 times faster than the processors on desktop computers. The NRC researchers contend the wave of random numbers will inundate eavesdroppers and make it impossible to decrypt signals. The discovery could have major implications for governments and military, banks and lotteries.