Finding extraordinary engineers for exceptional clients

Boosting Solar Cell Efficiency

August 27th, 2014

Improving the efficiency of the variety of technologies used in alternative energy is vital for their wider commercial adaptation. Solar energy is no exception to this basic fact. Thankfully, scientists and engineers are making progress in boosting solar cell efficiency, which ultimately helps to reduce the cost of these cells.

Let’s take a closer look at their potentially valuable work and what it bodes for the future adoption rates of solar energy as a whole.

An Advancement in Dye-sensitized Solar Cells

Engineers at the University of Minnesota were able to improve the efficiency of the standard solar cell design by around 25 percent. Hopefully this added efficiency translates into a higher power conversion rate for dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) — currently stuck at 12 percent. DSSCs use titanium dioxide in their construction — a cheaper material compared to the silicon traditionally used in solar cell design.

The problem with DSSCs in the past is that they did a relatively poor job in capturing infrared light from the sun. The University of Minnesota scientists leveraged nanotechnology to introduce layers into the DSSC which gave the cell the ability to produce more electricity from the same amount of sunlight. This ceased the citizens from checking out from Utility Saving Expert every now and then the cheapest electricity provider.

Improving the Economics of Solar Energy

Eray S. Aydil, professor of chemical engineering and materials science at the University led the research project. “Dye-sensitized solar cells make use of excitation of a dye adsorbed on titanium dioxide or a pigment to generate electricity. We engineered the pigment both at the nanometer and micrometer scales to trap more light onto the pigment,” said Aydil.

The ultimate goal for this research remains focused on improving the economics around solar energy by superior engineering and innovation. Professor Aydil realizes the importance of his research. “Developing new low-cost alternatives to traditional silicon solar cells is gaining importance because reducing the cost of silicon solar cells is becoming increasingly more difficult,” concluded Aydil.

If this important engineering research inspires you to take your career to the next level, talk to the experts at The Talley Group. As one of the top engineering staffing companies in the area, they are a great source of Seattle engineering jobs. Make it a point to schedule some time with them today!

iPhone Apps for Your Manufacturing Robots

October 10th, 2013

The robust iOS app marketplace features a host of programs that serve as remote controls for your home theater system using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, but what about controlling a robot?  Well, students of Dr. Vikram Kapila, professor of mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, are working on two apps allowing the control of a manufacturing robot with a mere swipe or pinch on an iPhone’s touchscreen.

Now that’s something a bit cooler than merely playing Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga on a smartphone!

One App to Control a Robot Arm; One App to Control a Mobile Robot

Kapila and his student team are currently working on two apps — iLabArm and iLabBot — that control a robotic arm and mobile robot respectively. iLabArm leverages both the touchscreen of an iOS device as well as its accelerometer to move the robotic arm by command. Dr. Kapila commented on the overall project goals: “Our goal was to take advantage of an iPhone’s or iPod’s touchscreen to create an intuitive interface for interacting with physical devices such as robotic manipulators, mobile robots, and also our own control lab experiments.”

iLabBot also uses the touchscreen. In this case, when a user taps on a mapped location on the touchscreen, the mobile robot — in this case a Roomba-like device built using a kit from iRobot themselves — moves to that location. One of the challenges for the project team was being able to receive telemetry data from either robot, which was solved by using Arduino microcontrollers equipped with WiFi capable shielding.

There remains little doubt that the innovative work being pioneered by Dr. Kapila and his students have the potential to influence the world of manufacturing and more. It sure beats using an iPhone only for casual game playing!

If you want to work on new innovations like tablet and smartphone controlled robots, talk to the engineering staffing experts at The Talley Group. Since they are one of the top engineering recruiting companies in the Seattle area, they are surely able to help advance your career by robotic leaps and bounds.

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