Harvard University and IBM have launched a project to discover cheap solar energy materials by harnessing the computing muscle of thousands of computers.
The IBM-sponsored World Community Grid seeks to speed up research on humanitarian projects with a grid of connected computers. An IBM grid server allocates tasks to different machines to speed up computational jobs. In addition Big Blue will test-run the grid software on an internal computer cloud during its idle times.
The Harvard project wants to test the chemical properties of a number of organic materials, with the aim of determining which are most promising for use as solar cells.
Organic solar cells are much cheaper to manufacture than traditional silicon, and are flexible and lightweight.
By spreading out the computing research across several computers, Harvard researcher Alan Aspuru-Guzik said that the project can be completed in two years. However, if the researchers used a normal supercomputer it would take 22 years. X