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  1. 1

    Cyrus Wadia makes pure pyrite nanocrystals in his lab at the University of California, Berkeley.
  2. 2

    Iron salts are mixed with sulfide salts inside the metal autoclave container at left and heated in an oven for four hours.
  3. 3

    The result: a black suspension of pyrite nanocrystals.
  4. 4

    Wadia sets a glass chip on the circular pedestal in the center of a spin-coating machine and then drips the pyrite suspension onto it. A minute of spinning coats the chip with a thin film of pyrite.
  5. 5

    He uses tweezers to set the chip on a hot plate; 10 to 15 minutes of heat will fix the nanocrystals to the surface.
  6. 6

    Wadia places a glass chip with eight pyrite solar cells on its surface inside a solar simulator. The aluminum lines are the cells’ top electrical contacts; the line across the top of the chip is a strip of conductive indium tin oxide.
  7. 7

    Inside the solar simulator, the chip is illuminated with light in a mixture of wavelengths simulating the distribution found in sunlight. Electrical connections to the manifold read the current and voltage across each cell, helping Wadia to calculate its efficiency.

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