Home » Arts and Science NotebookSpring 2012

Forget Macs or Droids—These Students Use Blackberries

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High school students from Tennessee got a taste of college research when they made solar cells using blackberry juice and measured the electrical power that the cells produced. Students from nine schools participated in daylong field trips to the Stevenson Center to get a hands-on introduction to nanotechnology and how it might lead to more efficient, less expensive devices for solar power. The solar cell project involved mashing and extracting juice from blackberries, soaking an electrode in the juice, and clipping it with another electrode covered with graphite to make a solar cell. The crude devices produce about enough to power a small electronic calculator, but they can give a person a nice shock, says Scott Niezgoda, a chemistry graduate student who works on the project. The educational outreach program was started this year by the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, directed by Sandra Rosenthal, Jack and Pamela Egan Professor of Chemistry.

photo credit: stock.xchng®

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