Finding extraordinary engineers for exceptional clients

Could Lasers Enhance Solar Cell Efficiency?

April 16th, 2015

Making solar power more efficient, and therefore more cost effective, is a vital goal currently being worked on by engineers throughout the industry. In this era of climate change, finding ways to lessen the carbon footprint caused by power generation offers potential hope for a better planet. The prospect of generating more of our electricity from renewable sources like solar, wind, and water is a goal shared by many engineers.

Scientists at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) are working on a system that uses lasers to improve the efficiency of the individual solar cells used in solar power arrays. This promising research might revolutionize the industry and make solar power a viable economic option for widespread power generation. Let’s take a closer look.

Using Lasers to Transform Silicon

A*STAR’s research is focused on the effects produced by a laser when processing silicon solar cells. Scientists noted that laser processing creates rippling in the silicon. In short, this rippling decreases the reflectivity of the silicon, allowing the resultant solar cells to absorb more sunlight.

A uniform nanoscale ripple pattern etched on solar cell silicon and using a femtosecond laser beam offers researchers the chance to make a breakthrough compared to earlier efforts where the pattern wasn’t deep enough to significantly affect the silicon’s reflectivity. Laser processing generally leaves the internal structure of the silicon unchanged, but the use of the femtosecond laser made the vital difference when it comes to the deepness of the etched ripples.

Xincai Wang, a scientist with A*STAR commented on his team’s efforts. “This increase in depth can substantially reduce light reflection and improve the light-trapping ability of the ripple structure. Hence, if the structure is used in photovoltaic devices, more light will be trapped within the structure, thereby enhancing the device efficiency,” said Wang.

Deeper Ripples at the Scale of Nanometers

A*STAR’s team etched ripples 300 nanometers deep using the new technique with the femtosecond laser. That distance is three times deeper than their previous attempts. Most importantly, this method is relatively simple and inexpensive, which raises the hope for easy adoption of the technology once it is commercialized.

These ripples make a significant difference in the reflectivity of the silicon – dropping it from 39.7 percent to 12.5 percent. Light absorption of the material improved by a factor of 41 percent. In addition to the world of solar power, A*STAR’s research may also impact the light emitting diode (LED) industry.

If these kinds of research innovations inspire you to further your engineering career, talk to the experts at The Talley Group. As one of the foremost engineering staffing agencies in Washington State, we are also a great source for the best Seattle engineering jobs. Schedule some time with us at your earliest convenience.

What to Watch out for in Petroleum Engineering This Year

January 14th, 2015

With 2015 now upon us, the coming year looks to be an interesting period in the world of petroleum engineering. With oil prices at a nearly historic low, there will undoubtedly be some challenges in the industry, but engineers working in this discipline still get the opportunity to leverage innovations that make their jobs interesting.

Let’s take a closer look at what changes the petroleum engineering industry can expect in 2015 and beyond.

Expect the Oil Industry to Rebound

While the oil industry doldrums have some potential students questioning a petroleum engineering program, experts expect things to turn around by the time those students earn their degrees. Dr. Jon Olson, a professor at the University of Texas’s Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, commented on how the industry reacts to low oil prices.

“Usually the service companies are the first to react because they’re the ones specifically doing the well work out at the fields. Those smaller companies are going to be retracting what they’re doing, at least staying away from high cost operations,” said Olson. Concerning potential petroleum engineering students he remarked: “four years from now, it will probably be totally different.” In short, expect things to improve.

Cavitation Technology Innovations Improve Petroleum-based Product Production

Cavitation technology is a new technique used in the production of petroleum-based fuels that leverages high-shear forces to provide superior mixing and thermal-heat generation. ExxonMobil Research and Engineering (EMRE) is developing the technology jointly with Arisdyne Systems.

“EMRE and Arisdyne are combining our strengths in petroleum processing technology to produce an industry-leading cavitation process to address today’s challenges across our Upstream, Downstream, and Chemicals business lines,” said Vijay Swarup, Vice President Research and Development at EMRE. “We are optimistic that this technology will make an important contribution to improve today’s global petroleum processing.”

So even in an oil industry downturn, the innovative work of the petroleum engineer continues unabated. If you are interested in exploring this lucrative field more closely, talk to the experts at The Talley Group. As one of the top Seattle engineering staffing agencies, we remain a great source for jobs and career insights. Schedule some time with us today!

Advancing Human Motion with Ekso

March 20th, 2013

The Six Million Dollar Man featured a storyline based in science fiction, but it brought the concept of bionics — a term first coined in the late 1950s — into the cultural consciousness. Here in the 21st Century, a company is making bionics a reality improving lives, and enhancing the capabilities of the human body. An actual “Steve Austin” now isn’t only a figment of the Hollywood imagination.

Ekso Bionics for the Human Endeavor

Ekso Bionics was formed in 2005 by three partners who worked together at the Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory, at the University of California. Reflecting its origins, the company was originally called Berkeley ExoWorks. The company took its current moniker in 2011.

The company’s first two products were called the ExoHiker and the ExoClimber; both products were essentially, a bionic skeleton to be worn by a human. They enhance the ability of a person to carry up to 150 pounds while hiking, with the latter product providing additional climbing capabilities. An attached battery offers 80 watt-hours of power, while an optional solar panel allows unlimited use.

In 2009, the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) was introduced, providing an evolutionary advancement from Ekso’s original two offerings. Up to 200 pounds could now be carried, and a more sophisticated exoskeleton reduced the overall energy spent by the wearer. Interested in its military applications, Lockheed Martin licensed the HULC for future development. 

Allowing Paraplegics to Walk Again

Ekso Bionics’ most recent product is the Ekso, a wearable exoskeleton that gives paraplegics the ability to stand and walk again. It is a battery-powered exoskeleton that fits over the wearer’s clothing. Weighing around 50 pounds, the weight of the Ekso gets transferred into the ground, so the wearer doesn’t have to support the device.

The Ekso comes with a remote control that allows a physical therapist to assist the wearer when they are first getting used to walking with the device. The Ekso is currently in clinical trials, so it must be used in a medically supervised environment, but Ekso Bionics expects to produce a personal model for home use in 2014.

Advancements in engineering continue to make the world a better place to live. Do you want to change the world through engineering? If so, contact The Talley Group. As one of the leading engineering recruiting firms in the Northwestern US, they are the right people to further your engineering career.

Engineering Opportunities in the Pacific Northwest

September 29th, 2011

At The Talley Group, we specialize in the recruitment of engineers and related staff for clients ranging in size from small firms to Fortune 500 companies.

We currently have two opportunities for experienced engineering professionals in Washington state. Could you be the person we’re looking for?

Test Engineer

In this role, you will plan, design and implement procedures for the test and evaluation of new and existing products. This will include determining calibration specifications and functional and/or environmental test requirements including equipment, fixturing and facilities.

You will use your strong troubleshooting skills to identify the root cause of problems and design countermeasure issues and drive improvements in quality, productivity and cost.

The successful candidate will have a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience, along with 2+ years of hands-on circuit analysis and analog skills.

This job is located in Everett, WA, 25 miles north of Seattle on Port Gardner Bay. With a lower cost of living than Seattle proper, Everett is the county’s largest city and the area’s center for economic development, with a strong focus on technology, life sciences, electronics, aerospace and service-based industries.


Network Engineer

In this role, you will design and manage network devices and services, including routers, switches, remote access devices, Wireless Access Points, security appliances and VoIP.

Your daily activities will include configuring and maintaining a complex, multilayer switched and routed network; maintaining network routing protocols such as OSPF and BGP; and configuring, testing and maintaining LAN/WAN equipment.

The successful candidate will have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information Systems or equivalent.

This job is located in Moses Lake, WA, about 200 miles east of Seattle, a boomtown for manufacturing & technology that has retained its small town charm, low cost of living and recreational opportunities.

Whether you want to live in a major metropolitan area or enjoy the slower pace of Central Washington state, could either of these be the opportunity you’ve been looking for?

Contact us today to find out more!

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