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    June 11, 2008

    "Dot" technology to the rescue

    Posted by: Andoni

    Quantum_dotsIn case you haven't noticed, we have an energy crisis in this country, as well as around the world. The situaton is so bad that even if we could build one new nuclear power reactor every day for the next 32 years (an absolute impossibilty), we will not be able to meet our country's energy needs for the year 2050.

    Last week I was invited to a research conference at MIT by the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science to hear about advances in revolutionary new technologies. One such new technology, called quotum dot technology (also known as organic semiconductors) has the potential to completely alter the way we live and use energy.

    Currently petroleum and coal are the two cheapest ways by far to produce energy. Solar is cleaner, but costs over a hundred times more than than either of these per energy unit. The U.S. could theoretically meet it's energy needs with solar, but there are two problems. The first is that it would require putting solar panels on 2% of all the entire land area of the U.S. This is not as hard as it sounds, because it just so happens that the tops of all the buildings in the U.S. comprise about 2% of the land area.

    The second problem cannot be solved. Silicon is a major component of solar cells and there simply is not enough silicon in the world to build this many solar panels.

    This is where quantum dots come in. These dots are man made organic materials such as the thin anti-wrinkle polymer weaved into permanent press clothing or the polymer mixed into exterior car paint to absorb light and then emit electrons in order to make car colors brighter.

    Quantum dots emit 3 to 7 times the number of electrons when hit by light than silicon does. These materials are also much cheaper to make. Large rolls of this stuff can be made and sold at places like Home Depot and installed on roofs by homeowners. Also, because dots are more efficient thant silicon, less than 0.5% of U.S. land area U.S. will be needed.

    So there you have it. We have the technology to solve our current energy mess. It will take only 10 years to do. The only thing that is required is the will to do it and some intial government subsidies to get the technology going.

    I know this isn't an LGBT story, but I wanted to relate it to you because you will be hearing a lot more about quantum dot technology. This is the equivalent of the invention of the transistor in 1947 and in the coming years you will see organic semiconductor (quantum dot) TV's, computer screens and light bulbs.



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    1. Tim C on Jun 11, 2008 8:11:40 AM:

      Ah, yet one more example of technology from the Roswell crash that we're just now figuring out how to use.

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Jun 11, 2008 10:24:24 AM:

      I know this isn't an LGBT story, but I wanted to relate it to you...

      Actually, it's nice to have a non-gay related posted every once in a while.

      Energy policy in this country is a critical issue; our reliance on middle eastern oil has been a disaster (see current gas prices; 1973-74 oil embargo). If this technology is as promising as you say, then it's something we should pursue.

    1. Tim on Jun 11, 2008 3:05:13 PM:

      not to quibble cause I think this is great, and I really hope we build both nuclear and quantum dot power plants. but do we really need gov't subsidies when the potential profits are so great?

    1. Charles J. Mueller on Jun 11, 2008 5:28:10 PM:

      Who's making them, how can I obtain them and how can I invest in it?

    1. Charles J. Mueller on Jun 11, 2008 5:30:08 PM:

      Who's making them, how can I buy them and where can I invest in them?

    1. Double T on Jun 11, 2008 5:50:37 PM:

      LOVE the STORY.
      And by the way, it does have a queer angle to it. "Cutting Edge", "Frontrunners" "Avant Gard" and "Forward Thinkers".

      Ask any Marketing Exec. where you would market to these types of people, he'll drive you over to the nearest gay bar.

    1. JANicholson3 on Jun 12, 2008 12:25:22 AM:

      It's great to throw in a non-activism/politics post once in a while! This is intriguing. I've been hearing increasing chatter about this type of thig as the next big leap.

    1. Amicus on Jun 12, 2008 12:39:05 PM:

      Currently petroleum and coal are the two cheapest ways by far to produce energy. Solar is cleaner, but costs over a hundred times more than than either of these per energy unit.
      I don't believe that is true any longer, commercially, and that is before you add in the costs to the environment from burning.

      Notice that the difference is always expressed as a percentage in these claims, as well. I saw a table once that the absolute difference of daily-average-cost-of-energy-use was far less than ... a cup of Starbucks (at over $3/day).

      It would be wrong to think in terms of waiting ten years, to be "rescued" by technology.

      There is plenty to do with efficiency and energy mixes today, enough that to cut US energy use from fossil fuels by 30% is ... reasonable, in five years, even.

      It would make sense to think in terms of a cycle. Quantum dots might lead a replacement-cycle, ten years from now (I assume the basic durability of these materials is the engineering challenge?).

      In other words, there is no reason to delay pushing available technology, within reason, even at the risk of having "stranded assets" down the road.

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