For years now former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore has been the the man professing the end of the world as we know it. In fact, while his predictions and commentary on the matter of global climate change may have sent scientists and the rest of the American public into a frenzy, they also happened to win him an Academy Award for his film "An Inconvenient Truth". But with a changing industry and a change in the global conversation, Gore's recent tone has been a lot more hopeful than it once was. And with news this weekend of an even greater shift towards green energy, with a discovery made by researchers at Brown University, some are hopeful that Gore will once again reclaim an office in the White House with election campaigns starting right around the corner.
This past weekend news broke with a new study published in the Royal Society of Chemistry's Journal of Materials Chemistry A, where Yuanyuan Zhou of Brown University and his advisor Nitin Padture described a new method of making perovskite films for solar cells that will be especially effective in creating ultra-thin cells that are semi-transparent. By using a room-temperature solvent bath to create perovskite crystals, rather than the blast of heat used in current crystallization methods, the new technique produces high-quality films with precise control that is perfect for mass production methods.
"Using other methods, when the thickness gets below 100 nanometers you can hardly make full coverage of film. You can make a film, but you get lots of pinholes" Zhou says. "In our process, you can form the film evenly down to 20 nanometers because the crystallization at room temperature is much more balanced and occurs immediately over the whole film upon bathing."
News of the discovery sensationalized the nation, as researchers and spokespersons for many green-energy initiatives stepped forward to speak about the massive change this innovation will have on the industry of solar power. But while the researchers were sharing their findings, Al Gore was paving the way for their use.
Speaking this past weekend at the South by Southwest technology conference, Mar. 16, held in Austin, Texas, gore discussed the "accepted science" of climate change and went on to talk about the value of clean energy.
"I think most people have been surprised, even shocked, by how quickly the cost has come down" Gore said. Talking about the installations of solar energy cells, Gore revealed the almost exponential growth of solar power, that in 2014 exceeded 48 times earlier predictions made in 2002. But the movement is far from its peak. With Zhou's innovative new process, these numbers will undoubtedly continue to soar.
Gore, however, says that it's not just the technology that is limiting the green movement. Government officials are also playing a large factor, as it is their beliefs and their decisions that run the country. And Gore says that they should be held responsible for their actions, and should pay a "price" for continuing to deny the issues associated with climate change.
"We need to put a price on carbon to accelerate these markets [penalizing companies that exceed their federal limits of emissions]" Gore says. "And in order to do that, we need to put a price on denial in politics."
"In addition to 99 percent of the scientists and all the professional scientific organizations, now Mother Nature is weighing in."
And what mother nature has to say may just open another spot for Gore in the next presidential election.