Science & Technology
8:20 am
Wed September 12, 2012

RTI Boasts New Solar Energy Technology

A North Carolina research firm says it's taken a significant step toward making solar energy a widely-marketable source of electricity. RTI International says its new solar cells use an ink-like material produced at much lower cost than traditional silicon panels. Jay Lewis is a senior research scientist with the RTP nonprofit.

Jay Lewis said, "The devices we make are not as good as silicon; we think they can be a lot cheaper. But what's really exciting about the materials that we found is that we feel like there's a lot of room for improvement, and we can see these someday being competitive with the more expensive technologies in terms of the efficiency, while having a much lower cost."

Lewis says to achieve that, RTI's new cells need to absorb more light. He says he's optimistic because there are well-known ways to do that. Even with their current lower efficiency, Lewis believes the cells may find a market. He says they're cheaper, more adaptable, and don't come with high installation costs.