What is design ?

What is design ? More than a style, design is the will of the system. I will try to be clear. Just open your mind.

I Prejudices about design
II Etymology
III Made for…
IV Lack of design
V Will of the system
VI Necessity of dream

I Prejudices about design

When people talk about design, they often think about something like this.


That’s not design.

Design is not an aesthetic style. So, what is it ? Let’s take a look at the etymology to understand.

II Etymology

Coming from the Latin word designare, “mark from a sign, draw, note”, design has something to do with a plan. In architecture, the plan is on a sheet of paper, but also in the mind of the conceptor. The plan is both the drawing and the will.

Plan of the tour Eiffel. The drawing expresses the will of the architect, that will later be realized as a monument.

III Made for…

To know the design of a system, you must know what it’s made for.

A Kalachnikov is made to kill. It has a killer design.
A pan is made to cook. It has a cooking design.

Honestly, I am not made for compromise. I gather people around a dream, and the work to make it real.

Actually, every system in Nature is designed for something. Don’t make it religious, please take it as a philosophy and a way to see the world.

I don’t think it’s always a matter of how you use the objects, because they have a will on their own. TV is so strong that it makes many people resigned zombies, what is called “couch potatoe”. In this case, TV is the boss and humans have become the objects.

IV Lack of design

It’s often easy to notice when a territory lacks design. A good picture talks.

A room lacking design. Without effort, the territory gets chaotic.

The disorder from a lack of design can also be seen in a city that grows without common objective.

As I learnt in primary school, lazyness is the source of all vices. Unfortunately, many territories are not tidy, not hold by their “owner”, and the main personnality we can guess from the territory is the one of a lazy person.

As IKEA says : Organize your inside !

V Will of the system

Mind is everywhere. A rainbow has the mind of diversity, the sunshine has the mind of heat. This is just a matter of associations in the psychic space.

In our case, design is the will of the system. It’s the set of psychic forces that the system exerts.

Let’s take an example. Imagine someone facing a piece of chocolate.


The behaviour “Eating chocolate” is a mind modelized by a vertex in the mathematical graph theory. If the force for is above the force against, then the person will eat the chocolate.

This is just a matter of will. Design is the will of the system. And it looks like something like this.

The system applies attractive and repulsive forces to other minds.

To know a system, you must know what it truly wants.

VI Necessity of dream

What is the origin of psychic forces ? I think it’s fantasy. Fantasies tend to model reality at their image. When you take a soda, before you make this action, you imagined it. That was just a fantasy.

The first duty of a designer is the dream, because positive fantasy makes a better world.


Discussion about quantum dots photovoltaics

What is solar photovoltaics ? What is the solar spectrum ? What is energy in physics ? If you know the answers to these questions, we can carry on. If not, you will not understand.

I Attracts
II Nodes and disappointment
III Towards a simple design

I Attracts

First, let us say that quantum dots solar cells are in the state of research. They are not yet interesting to use.

Quantum dots are crystals of the size of tens to hundreds of atoms1 that exhibit two interesting properties for solar photovoltaics : multiple exciton generation and a gap energy at will.

Multiple exciton generation is the fact that 1 photon can free more than one electron in the active material. It means than instead of being lost as heat, the excessive energy of the photon is harvested into other free electrons2.

The gap of quantum dots is tunable with the size of the crystal3. I guess that the gap increases when the size of the crystal diminishes. Why ? Because I’ve learnt in the university that the energy involved in small systems is more important than in big systems, and this is why nuclear chemistry has bigger energies than classical chemistry.
The freedom of choice for gaps makes quantum dot solar cells interesting for multi-junction solar cells, that are the best solar cells in terms of efficiency with 44 % concentrated efficiency in space aeronautics4.

II Nodes and disappointment

Let’s read between the lines of the Wikipedia Mutiple exciton generation article :

“high-energy photons excite on average more than one electron across the band gap, and so in principle the solar cell can produce more useful work.”.

High energy photons. What does that mean ?

Let us consider that a high-energy photon is a photon with a bigger energy than a normal photon.
Let us consider that a normal photon is a photon with an energy at the middle of the visible spectrum.

The wonderful solar spectrum figure tells us that high-energy photons are the ones in pink.


(Pink shits, right ?)

First, it means that most of the solar spectrum frees 1 electron for 1 photon. But hey, it’s gonna be amazing, maybe we shall be able to free 2, 3, 4, or even more electrons with 1 high-energy photon !

When reading Wikipedia, we understand that this is not natural numbers, but non-integer numbers like 1.3, that looks like more an average. We are in quantum mechanics, it’s all about collective phenomenoms.

So, how many electrons does a high-energy photon free ?

It begins to be more than 1 at 550 nm, then it gradually increases and stops at 300 nm.

550/300 = 1.833 etc

so it means that the maximum electrons a photon of some energy can free on average is below 2.

In the calculus, that means you put 1 instead of 1 for most of the spectrum, and you put 1.9 or even less for a small part of the spectrum. Such a little gain !

That means that multiple exciton generation is just little energy conversion gain for photovoltaics.

The tunable gap remains interesting.

I’ve written about nodes. They are social ones.

In the video above, you see the reality of quantum dot photovoltaics. There are a lot of different materials, including cadmium, a toxical one, the results do not look like photovoltaics modules.

Sincerely, the problem of the quantum dot social middle is that :

  • they are extremely complicated ;
  • they have understood nothing to the ecological mind of solar photovoltaics ;
  • they are tens of years of industry away to know if it is properly recyclable ;
  • they are disconnected from the reality of energy economics ;
  • and (as many others unfortunately) they do not have a clear understanding of solar photovoltaics.

Wow, and we need to work with those lazy guys ?

Ecology doesn’t need good for nothing people. It needs people with a strong motivation, and an environmental conscience.

I’ve spitted enough venom by now. Let us see something more positive 🙂 .

III Towards a simple design

When I was wondering about what a good solar cell should look like, I’ve run into a comment on the Internet that said there was a need for the simplicity of the design.

Simplicity of the design.

I plan to make an article to explain what design is, because this notion is often misunderstood. In short, the simplicity of the design means that the figure of the solar cell is simple.

This solar cell has a superposition of layers design. I’ve seen the technical part, and I’ve noticed that CdTe and CdS is a good choice in terms of active materials. Not a good choice in terms of ecology as Cd is highly poisonous.

Simple things are the most powerful. With a simple and positive state of mind, things are gonna be OK 🙂 .

Notes :

1 : Source : Quantum dots, pv magazine, Ångström, Wikipedia, Atom sizes, WebElements. The size of an atom is about 1 ångström.
2 : Source : Multiple exciton generation, Wikipedia
3 : Source : Quantum dot solar cell, Wikipedia
4 : Source : NREL world record, energy informative. Take a look at the NREL figure.

Why aesthetics ?

A powerplant is asked to produce power. Why then should we care about aesthetics ?

Pragmatics is more important than aesthetics. If we focus more on aesthetics than on pragmatics, the result on the long term is a triumph of superficiality and absurdity, and in the end, this gets not truly beautiful.

So, why should we care about aesthetics ?

I’ve learnt that the psychic motors of people are not rational. People are moved by hope, by fear. It is said that love is not rational, but what is reason if not an expression of the love of truth ? 🙂

Petroleum is expected to be depleted in 2050. It makes environmental issues quite an emergency. Please let me be patient and strong.

Yeah, it’s extremely difficult. Sure the means should be higher than the difficulty. What does that mean ?


It means we need to use aesthetics to attract people into more ecological systems. We may lose some production, but what we lost in terms of Watts shall be gained later as a more environmentally-friendly and economically reliable lifestyle. Economics is a wonderful science, it’s just that the true value is much deeper and mysterious than money.

Solar hourglass

The architect Santiago Muros Cortés made an interesting plan. This is something both useful and beautiful : a solar powerplant with the shape of an hourglass, a monument of modern architecture.


I Technical characteristics
II Development of the concept

I Technical characteristics

This is a solar powerplant. It makes a clean and renewable electricity with an estimated output of 6.2MW. As a point of reference, some people agree with the idea that each person needs on average 1kW of electricity.

The solar hourglass focuses light coming from the Sun by the use of mirrors. The rays come onto a cone-shaped mirror at the center, that reflects the light as a strong beam down to the other part of the hourglass.


This ray heats KNO3, it’s a chemical salt. This salt melts and we use it to activate a steam machine.

What happens in detail with the steam machine ? Water gets heat from the molten salt, becomes steam, activates a turbine. After this, the turbine activates a generator, that makes electricity.

This kind of system is called Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). It doesn’t work when there are clouds, but it is possible to store the energy.

II Development of the concept

A solar hourglass needs to be close to equator, for two reasons. First, because the sky is less cloudy. Second, because the angle of the Sun in the sky is closer from the vertical, the zenith.

Actually, the beam going down may burn the eyes. We won’t force people to wear sunglasses, so a protection around the beam may help a lot to protect our eyes.

Personally, I don’t see why a solar hourglass should be suspended. Why not use columns, like a traditional hourglass ?

A traditional hourglass made of metal.

If a monument can help the cause of political ecology, this is worth the effort.

See also :

Technical discussion

Popular presentation


Hi everybody 🙂 .

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