Source: Alan Henry - PC Magazine via Yahoo Sept. 19, 2008
Twelve year old Oregon schoolboy William Yuan may have developed “A Highly-Efficient 3-Dimensional Nanotube Solar Cell for Visible and UV Light”.

At the heart of Yuan’s project is a special solar cell that can harness both visible and ultraviolet light. Most solar cells in use today are either photovoltaic, meaning they harness only visible light, or thermal. While visible, infrared, and ultraviolet light are all heavily scattered or absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, ultraviolet light comes in at shorter wavelengths and with higher energy than both visible and infrared light. Ultraviolet light can provide more energy to a collector than other, longer-wavelength members of the electromagnetic spectrum. Yuan’s solar cells are not just innovative for their collection of UV light, but also because they’re engineered to stand freely in three dimensions (which allows them to collect more light) and make use of carbon nanotubes, which allow the cell to distribute the energy it collects without dissipating as much as traditional cells do.
 
Caution
William has been credited with developing a new type of solar cell. This is a solidstate device. Manufacturing solid state devices is a very complicated process. Making a solar cell is not too difficult (if you have the chemicals), but making a highly efficient one would be. William is also using carbon nanotubes. I wonder where he got them from? This discovery has been reported in PC Magazine, but I think we may need to have his work reviewed by the experts before we celebrate.
 
If We Could Efficiently Harvest the Sun’s Energy …
This would be a tremendous boon for homes with modest electrical needs. If you don’t have air-conditioning, it may be soon economically feasible to get all of your power from the sun.
I recently spoke to an Architect in Miami who said that he knew of someone building houses in Jamaica, that derived all of their power from the sun.
A while back I wrote a post on installing thin solar panels, and I’ll keep my eyes open for future developments.