Enabling Technologies for Solar EnergyIn order to implement the solar energy technologies currently being researched in the CfSE and across the nation (e.g., photovoltaics, thermoelectrics, water splitting) at a large scale, other areas of research and technologies need to be studied synchronously. These areas include gas sensing, energy storage, and power inverters.
Hydrogen Gas Sensing
Hydrogen is an attractive energy source compared to fossil fuels since its combustion forms water rather than carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Hydrogen produced by renewable sources, such as watersplitting using sunlight or electrolysis with photovoltaic panels, will need to be stored and monitored. Researchers in the CfSE have shown that polycrystalline nanowires can detect hydrogen gas with high sensitivity and fast response times. Nanowires are used because as the diameter of wires are reduced to the nanometer scale, their resistance becomes increasingly influenced by the identity and properties of the molecules that are present on the nanowire surface.