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Educational Projects

Solar Fuels Article  

Greg P. Smestad and Aldo Steinfeld publish their Review article: Review: Photochemical and Thermochemical Production of Solar Fuels from HO and CO Using Metal Oxide Catalysts in ACS Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.
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Solyndra Education  

Solyndra Education

Greg P. Smestad, Ph.D. is working to find educational uses for the leftovers from Solyndra's bankruptcy that would otherwise go into a hazardous materials landfill.  
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Solar Cell Education  

Nanocrystalline Solar Cell Kit

 Solar Cell Kits:
Many teachers have successfully used the work of Greg P. Smestad to teach basic science and have communicated solar energy concepts to a wide audience.  
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Education & Teaching

Greg P. Smestad, Ph.D. served as an Adjunct Lecturer at Santa Clara University from the Fall Quarter of 2013 through the Winter Quarter of 2016. He taught Distributed and Renewable Energy for the Developing World in the graduate program of the School of Engineering.

Dr. Smestad's more than 20 years of experience in the fields of semiconductor materials, solar cells, optics, optoelectronics, renewable energy, and educational materials is key to his successfully and systematically applying these skills toward industry, practical applications, and education. His educational activities have included: Technical Training, the development of a Solar Cell Kit, and an Anza Trail Guide for touring California. From 1995 to 2002, he was a professor, first as the founding lecture and lab chemist at the California State University, Monterey Bay, and then as a part time science-policy specialist at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS). His teaching experience is varied and diverse.

It has become apparent that researchers and entrepreneurs need to understand and utilize a view of solar cells and solar conversion systems that stems from a fundamental (detailed balance) perspective. To that end, Dr. Greg Smestad published a tutorial text that covers the optoelectronics, materials science, economics and thermodynamics of solar cells. He has also published many papers on potentially low-cost approaches to solar conversion, as well as a policy paper describing energy subsidies.

Understanding Solyndra's Array of Cylinders

From a theoretical and experimental standpoint, Sol Ideas has examined the technical aspects of the cylindrical absorber arrays used by Solyndra. Work from mid-1970s used optics and solar geometry to understand the energy collected by cylinders. The results are applicable even when the cylinders are photovoltaic. For further details, visit our Glass Tubes page. Educators and scientists can use this as a case study to teach basic principles regarding available solar radiation and collection geometry.

Technical Training

Companies and research institutes can contract with Dr. Smestad to conduct training and tutorials in our areas of expertise. These include materials science and optics related to photovoltaics, solar cells, and optoelectronics. Sol Ideas can tailor any course to serve your organization's needs. Learn more about our technical training services.

Optoelectronics of Solar Cells

A tutorial text on solar cells has been published that approaches the topic from an optical and thermodynamic perspective. It presents a generalized model of a solar converter, and the Detailed Balance description from the Generalized Planck Equation. This leads logically to the relationship between a solar cell's voltage and the Luminescence efficiency of the absorber material. The book also outlines the thermodynamic limits of light Concentrators, and the basic economics of photovoltaic cells and systems.

Satellite Dish-based Solar Cooker

Sol Ideas demonstrated this Satellite Dish-based Solar Cooker for a group of educators for the Optical Society of America's (OSA) Education Day (EDAY) which was hosted by the OSA's Foundation to provide ideas and curriculum to promote hands-on science education. Learn more about the Satellite Dish-based Solar Cooker and the experiments that can be performed.

Solar Cell Kit

We have developed solar cell kits used for instructional purposes in universities and classrooms. The "Nanocrystalline Solar Cell Kit: Re-creating Photosynthesis" is a teaching tool which uses natural dyes extracted from berries, and non-toxic materials to create a solar cell that lasts only a few months, but can teach students about sustainable energy production.

Juan Bautista de Anza Trail Guide and Audio CD Project

In keeping with his interest in education and public service, Sol Ideas founder Greg P. Smestad, Ph.D. has developed a trail guide for the Juan Bautista National Historic Trail. This project was carried out in conjunction with the National Park Service and Los Californianos and resulted in both a printed version (Antepasados, Volume XI) and an on-line version.

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