By now, the U.S. Department of Defense’s support of alternative energy is no secret. The agency has been rolling out a number of solar energy systems at several military bases throughout the U.S. The real surprise comes from the DoD’s research into quantum solar cells. These solar panels are just like any other, with one major difference. The panels are coated in small crystal-like superconductors called quantum dots. Using these quantum dots can make solar panels at least 45% more efficient.
The use of quantum dots makes solar panel production inexpensive. The dots are created through a chemical process that requires a fraction of the energy needed to produce silicon, which is a major component of conventional solar panels. Military scientists from the Air Force and the Army have been working on new solar panels covered in quantum dots and their research may be ready for application in the coming months.
As a preemptive step, researchers have founded a company called OPtoElectronic Nanodevices LLC. The company exists to commercialize the new quantum solar cells and make them available for consumers. Researchers have also devised a material which contains quantum dots that can be applied to any existing solar panel, making them more efficient. The company is currently seeking out funding from both the federal government and private investors and believes that mass production of these new solar cells and quantum materials can be ready for mass production this year.