Air pollution and global warming are two of the greatest concerns of human health and political stability. Energy insecurity and growing prices of conventional energy sources such as fossil fuel and atomic energy are the other challenges of the developing society of the current century. One solution to the imminent energy shortage is to adopt renewable energy sources and technologies. Principally, every form of energy in the earth is solar in origin. Oil, coal, natural gas and woods were initially formed by photosynthetic processes and further turned to their known form by long and complex chemical reactions. Even the wind energy has a solar source as it is routed from the temperature differences in dissimilar areas of the earth. Solar energy is more favorable than other resources since it is clean and can be supplied with no ecological contamination. However, the energy cost of solar industry is still high, and massive efforts is needed to reduce the price. In fact, most of the price of solar panels is owing to the expenses of silicon materials and processing. Consequently, any method which reduces the material quantity of the cells whereas increasing the output would be desired. Among the various strategies which are applied for expenses reduction, use of composite and hybrid materials (e.g. plasmonic structures, metamaterials) in solar panels is rather new but it is nowadays considered as a potential approach for realization of more cost effective solar materials. Thanks to the localized nature of the plasmonic system, the thickness of the absorbing layer of solar materials can be considerably reduced which could ultimately lessens the solar energy cost. This subject will be discussed in more detail in upcoming posts!
Materials Engineering: A practical solution for energy crisis