Distributed computing projects are a great way to harness the power of PCs out in the wild to solve scientific mysteries, help find cures for tough diseases and even search for extra terrestrial life. Now you can add solar panel research to the list.
According to this article in Wired, researchers behind the Harvard Clean Energy Project need your PC to help sort through millions of organic compounds in the hopes of finding materials that will make for cheap, super-efficient panels. Or organic photovoltaic devices if you want to get technical. Already, the effort has shown a glimmer of hope:
The virtual hunt has been running for more than two years now, but the group has recently found some promising results. The screening process turned up an organic semiconductor with desirable properties. Aspuru-Guzik sent the structure to synthetic chemist Zhenan Bao who made the chemical and then tested it in an experimental transistor.
The team found the molecule to be a good conductor, and even conducted electric charge between three and four times better than predicted. “This shows how difficult it is to predict a molecule’s properties accurately, but confirms that models are good at ranking molecules according to their relative performance,” said Bao.
Now I know, green techies are loathe to run screensavers. Not only are modern monitors largely immune to burn-in caused by static images, but running graphics and/or compute intensive programs consumes wads of electricity. Not exactly fitting with the Green IT ethos.
Maybe a little flexibility is in order?
For instance, I’ve expanded the definition of Green IT beyond energy-saving computing to include software, tech and gadgets that spur innovation in the realms of energy efficiency and cleantech. So if you’re looking to donate some compute cycles to a cause that supports renewable energy (World Community Grid/BOINC, FYI), this just might be for you. Let your conscience be your guide…
Learn more about the Harvard Clean Energy Project here or check out the video below.