Solar Future From The Eyes Of A Twelve-Year-Old, Solar Cells In 3D


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Dear Solar Enthusiasts,

I’ve been hearing various reports about 3D solar cells and question as to whether a 12-year old is truly responsible for its discovery.  After much digging, this is what I’ve come to conclude and ready to share with all of you:

Back in 2008, according to one of the reports of by a reporter named Susan Harding, a 12-year-old student of Meadow Park Middle School of Beaverton, Oregon, William Yuan,

William Yuan, 12 Year Old Optimal 3D Solar Cell Designer/Creator/Genius

had invented something that could revolutionize solar energy.  It all started with Legos.  William Yuan, despite his tender age, had already studied nuclear fusion and nanotechnology by the time he reached seventh grade.  After he learned nanotechnology to make robots take off, this seventh grader got an idea inspired by the sun.   Encouraged by his Meadow Park Middle School science teacher, William Yuan started his quest in search of a different/new kind of solar cell.  For two years, he researched other scientists’ work and came up with his own unique design that would work for visible and UV light.  Noted: he based his research on some ground-breaking, graduate level work on 3D solar cells done at Georgia Tech and Notre Dame. He also received help from professional mentors at Portland State University’s Center for Nanofabrication and Electron Microscopy, Applied Materials Inc., and the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley.  He fully documented all of his sources and never implied that he invented 3D solar cell. Various graduate level research had focused on one or another design criteria, but William Yuan combined several ideas and made them more efficient and powerful.  “Regular solar cells are only 2D and only allow light interaction once,” he said.  If he is correct with all calculations, his particular 3D solar cell design would provide 500 times more light absorption than commercially available solar cells and nine times more than cutting-edge 3D solar cells.  His next step is to get a manufacturer and market it.  In the meantime, William Yuan had received a $25,000 scholarship from the Davidson Fellows Award (scholarships for extraordinary young people, 18 and under) for his research.  Let’s take a look at this 12 year old optimal 3D solar cell designer/creator, William Yuan, below:

Below, is a quote from the Davidson Institute For Talent Development, describing William Yuan’s 3D solar cell design:

“In his project, ‘A Highly-Efficient 3-Dimensional Nanotube Solar Cell for Visible and UV Light,’ William invented a novel solar panel that enables light absorption from visible to ultraviolet light. He designed carbon nanotubes to overcome the barriers of electron movement, doubling the light-electricity conversion efficiency. William also developed a model for solar towers and a computer program to simulate and optimize the tower parameters. His optimized design provides 500 times more light absorption than commercially-available solar cells and nine times more than the cutting-edge, three dimensional solar cell.”

I have only three comments:

1.  Moms and Dads out there, get your kids start playing with Legos as early as possible!

2.  Big Thumb Up to all inspiring teachers and mentors out there !

3.  For those of you who  think depopulation as the solution to our earthly problems, think again!

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

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