In recent years the technology behind solar power has advanced rapidly. However, the biggest problem that scientists and energy companies have faced is getting solar cells small enough to be used in the household. After all, at the moment it is so much more convenient to have a mains power line going into the house. It seems Greg Nielson has discovered the answer however.

In Sandia National Laboratories, New Mexico, Greg Nielson owns a small jar. Inside this jar are a number of solar cells floating merrily away. You may think this is a big jar, but you are wrong. These solar cells are the size of glitter, and they could be the future of solar power. As Greg explains “If you have panels of these on top of Walmart, you get twice as much power but your costs go down by half”.

Greg has been working on this technology of six years, and he has managed to reduce the size, and as a result made them more durable, efficient and cost effective.

However, Greg hasn’t always been associated with Solar Power. In fact, he stumbled across it by accident. It was when Vipin Gupta, a leading solar researcher accidently got a wrong number that Greg started to get into solar power.

This technology is based around microfabrication techniques which have been in use in the electronics industry for many years. As a result he found he could make a solar cell that uses 100 times less silicon, but produced the same amount of electricity.

Nielson and his team of 30 researchers are looking into ways of how to use their solar glitter. For example, they are looking to incorporate the technology into consumer electronics. Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of this technology.