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There have been spectacular advances in solar cell technologies in recent years.

One substance that holds great promise is graphene. This amazing substance is one of several crystalline forms of carbon that include diamond, graphite etc. It is tougher than diamond and yet stretches like rubber. It is about 2 times stronger than steel and about !" times thinner than a human hair. It is so strong that you could suspend an elephant on a thin strand of this material and it #ould not break$ It consists of a single layer of carbon atoms % one atom thick % in a honeycomb lattice structure. &ndre 'eim and (onstantin )ovoselov at the *niversity of +anchester #ere a#arded the )obel ,rize in ,hysics in 2 ! -for groundbreaking e.periments regarding the t#o/dimensional material graphene0. )ormally silicon is used in the manufacture of commercial solar cells. It no# turns out that graphene could prove far more efficient in transforming light into energy. This #as established in a study carried out at the Institute of ,hotonic 1ciences 2I34O5 in 1pain #hich found that solar cells made #ith graphene could offer up to 6 percent solar cell efficiency % this is about four times the efficiency of the present commercially available solar cells. 'raphene turns out also to be an e.cellent conductor of electricity, even better than copper. This is leading to the development of many applications in the electronics industry. ,aper thin computers and televisions are presently under development based on this miracle substance. Indeed 1outh (orean researchers have created a 2"inch fle.ible touch/screen using graphene. Tomorro# your daily ne#spaper may be made of it too, #hich may be instantly updated by pressing a tab on the side. 7arold 7 (ung at the +c3ormick 1chool of 8ngineering and &pplied 1cience at )orth#estern *niversity has reported a method to e.tend the battery life of lithium ion batteries by ! times using a grapheme/based anode. & considerable effort is being directed at developing better batteries and other energy storage systems. 8.isting batteries often fail because of the damage caused to the electrodes in them over a period of time by the movement of ions. & ne# electrode 2made from nano/particles of copper he.acyanoferrate5 has been developed by 1tanford researchers and uses nanotechnology to construct an open structure for the electrode. This permits ions to move in and out #ithout damaging it. The electrode seems to be a #onder material for use as a high/voltage cathode. )ovel #ays are also being developed to utilise #ind energy. In many parts of the #orld #e find large #indmills, each #ith three huge blades generating electricity. These #ind turbines are not very efficient since about half the air does not go through the blades but around them, #ith a resulting loss in their capacity to generate electricity. 4lo9esign, a *1 based company, has no# developed a ne# generation of #ind turbines that rely on the design used in :et engines. These turbines have propeller blades that are much smaller but produce more electricity as the air is directed through the turbine by a surrounding shroud. 1mall turbines that #ill produce ! kilo#att po#er #ill be initially

manufactured and they #ill then be follo#ed by mega#att capacity turbines. & problem associated #ith micro #ind turbines is that they must #ork #ell in both light and high #inds, for instance under stormy conditions #hen they should not spin too fast. In the case of the larger #ind turbines, the design of the blades takes care of this problem, making them stall under very high speed #ind. This is done through sensors that send signals to attached computers #hich in turn ad:ust the turbine speeds. This is too e.pensive a solution. 7o#ever, nature is often the best teacher. The stability of dragonflies even under high #ind conditions provided critically important clues. The dragonfly is very stable in its flight, even under high #ind speeds. This is due to the special design of its #ings #hich are thin and fle.ible, and have small protrusions on their surfaces. These protrusions create a number of s#irling vortices that contribute to the e.traordinary aerodynamic stability of the dragonfly. ;ased on this, the &kira Obata of )ippon ;unri *niversity in <apan has invented a micro turbine #hich is far better than those available previously. ,akistan needs to concentrate on solving its energy problems by utilising its e.isting resources of coal, #ater, #ind, and the recently discovered shale oil and shale gas. & reader has rightly pointed out that all the electrical appliances produced in ,akistan are energy inefficient. 4or e.ample our fans, tube/#ell motors and roadside #orkshop machines use heavy starting current and also consume much more electricity than &merican, 8uropean, or even 3hinese appliances. =hen one considers the millions of fans, tube/#ell motors and road side #orkshop motors in the country, one gets some idea of ho# much energy is being #asted because of the improper enforcement of >uality standards, particularly those relating to energy efficiency, in those industries that manufacture such motors and appliances. 1imilarly most of our vehicles, especially locally manufactured bodies of trucks and buses, are energy inefficient. 3oncluded The #riter is the president of the ,akistan &cademy of 1ciences and former chairman of the 783. 8mail? ibne@sinaAhotmail.com