Supercomputing More Light Than Heat
Summary: Some scientists think there might be light at the end of the tunnel in the hunt for better semiconductor materials for solar cells and LEDs. That’s according to an August 2017 study that used supercomputer simulations with graphics processing units to model nanocrystals of silicon. Solar cells have a problem with heat. Photovoltaics on solar panels lose some energy as heat in when they convert sunlight to electricity. The reverse holds true for LED lights, which convert electricity into light. Scientists call the heat loss in LEDs and solar cells non-radiative recombination. And they’ve struggled to understand the basic physics of this heat loss, especially for materials with molecules of over 20 atoms. Podcast host Jorge Salazar interviews Benjamin Levine, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at Michigan State University. Dr. Levine models the behavior caused by defects in materials, such as doping bulk silicon to transform it into semiconductors in transistors, LEDs, and solar cells. Levine and has used over 975,000 compute hours on the Maverick supercomputer, a dedicated visualization and data analysis resource architected with 132 NVIDIA Tesla K40 "Atlas" GPUs for remote visualization and GPU computing to the national community. XSEDE, the eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment funded by the National Science Foundation, provided the allocation.