Carbon Nanotube (CNT) Transistors and Diodes in Solar Inverters

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CNT transistors and diodes, the semiconducting devices that control the flow and amplification/rectification of current within an inverter, have the potential to greatly improve the design and effective life of solar PV inverters.  The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has identified a lack of semiconductor devices as major weak points in the design and functionality of these devices.  The use of CNTs in place of conventional transistors and diodes greatly increases the current carrying capacity of the devices while decreasing the operational temperature. 

According to the NREL, heat created by the switching devices within a solar inverter is a source of heat generation, directly affecting inverter reliability.  Bundled single wall CNT (BSWCNT) diodes can achieve a higher current density over conventional silicon diodes while still maintaining thermal and chemical stability.  CNT transistors, on the other hand, are capable of performing at lower voltages while carrying much more current than existing transistors.  These qualities lead to improved reliability of solar inverters and reduced power consumption for inverter operation, thus longer inverter life.

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Increases energy efficiency of photovoltaic by decreasing inverter power consumption during photovoltaic energy production. The device also increases inverter reliability.

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Enhanced energy efficiency in photovoltaic and enhancing reliability of the electronics device.

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Single wall Carbon Nanotubes (SWCNT) have the potential for the secondary release of hazardous materials into and in reaction with the human environment via the creation of hazardous waste in the recycling process. Repurposing CNTs requires the use of acetone, deionized water, hydrochloric acid and nitric acid; chemicals with hazards of their own. Additionally, SWCNTs have potentially harmful pulmonary toxicology profiles similar to other Ultra-Fine Particles (UFP). Research is emerging that suggests SWCNTs produce mitochondrial DNA damage and increased cardiovascular plaque buildup in mice. This will likely drive more research into the effects of SWCNT exposure in workplace environments.

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