September 19, 08
12-Year -Old Student Designs a 3-Dimensional Nanotube Solar Cell

A 12-Year-old 7th grade student from Beaverton, Oregon has designed a new 3-D solar cell that he thinks could transform the solar industry and bring solar power to places once thought to be too cloudy for effective solar deployment.

The “A Highly-Efficient 3-Dimensional Nanotube Solar Cell for Visible and UV Light,” that William invented is a novel solar panel that enables light absorption from visible to ultraviolet light. He designed carbon nanotubes to overcome the barriers of electron movement, doubling the light-electricity conversion efficiency. William also developed a model for solar towers and a computer program to simulate and optimize the tower parameters. His optimized design provides 500 times more light absorption than commercially-available solar cells and nine times more than the cutting-edge, three- dimensional solar cell.

Being just 12-Years-Old, Yuan may have some trouble gaining investment from the established solar industry, but he's earned a $25,000 scholarship to fund his education and research, a fellowship at the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, and a set of other awards in science and engineering.