Supercomputers used to research solar energy

By Stuart Sumner
09 Sep 2011 View Comments
Close-up image of the Sun

A supercomputing network is being used to help identify new materials to be used in solar cells, in a bid to improve their efficiency and lower their cost.

Researchers at North Georgia College & State University were given 200,000 supercomputing units on the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) network.

Further reading

XSEDE is a cluster of supercomputers that are able to make calculations that are beyond the capabilities of a standard desktop computer.

According to Dr Aimée Tomlinson, assistant professor of chemistry at the university, quantum mechanical computations that could take up to a week to solve on a typical computer can be solved in as little as an hour using the XSEDE network.

According to the university web site, Tomlison said that the use of this supercomputing cluster has helped the researchers identify potential polymers to make the construction of solar cells more effective and reduce their environmental impact.

Earlier this year, the UK government slashed its financial incentive scheme for large solar power schemes by almost 75 per cent, citing fears that it was in danger of being highjacked by City speculators.

High-performance computing (HPC) capabilities are also used by UK universities, including a £3m supercomputer used by Southamption University to tackle climate change issues.

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