Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Titania nanotubes create potentially efficient solar cells

Abstract:
New focus in solar cells is toward dye sensitive solar cells, which have been made using nanoparticles and a variety of dyes

Titania nanotubes create potentially efficient solar cells

University Park, PA | Posted on February 08, 2006

A solar cell, made of titania nanotubes and natural dye, may be the answer to making solar electricity production cost-effective, according to a Penn State researcher.

"Solar cell technology has not changed very much over time and is still predominantly silicon solar cells," says Dr. Craig Grimes, professor of electrical engineering and materials science and engineering. "It takes a great deal of energy, 5 gigajoules per square meter, to make silicon solar cells. It can be argued that silicon solar cells never fully recover the energy it takes to make them in the first place."

The new focus in solar cells is toward dye sensitive solar cells, which have been made using nanoparticles and a variety of dyes.

"Nanoparticle solar cells are the gold standard of this new approach," says Grimes. "However, because of limitations, it appears they have gotten as good as they are going to get."

The researchers are instead looking at titania nanotubes to replace the particulate coatings in dye sensitive solar cells and, their initial attempt produced about 3 percent conversion of solar energy to electricity, they report in today's issue of Nano Letters. The researcher's inability to grow longer titania nanotubes, constrained the solar conversion rate.

"I think we can reach a 15 percent conversion rate with these cells, and other researchers do as well," says Grimes. "That is 15 percent with a relatively easy fabrication system that is commercially viable."

Conventional solar cells are made from blocks of slowly made silicon boules that are sliced into wafers. Grimes and his team use an easier approach. They coat a piece of glass with a fluorine-doped tin oxide and then sputter on a layer of titanium. The researchers can currently lay down a 500-nanometer thick titanium layer. They then anodize the layer by placing it in an acidic bath with a mild electric current and titanium dioxide nanotube arrays grow to about 360 nanometers. The tubes are then heated in oxygen so that they crystalize. The process turns the opaque coating of titanium into a transparent coating of nanotubes.

This nanotube array is then coated in a commercially available dye. The dye-coated nanotubes make up the negative electrode and a positive electrode seals the cell which contains an iodized electrolyte. When sun shines through the glass, the energy falls on the dye molecules and an electron is freed. If this electron and others make their way out of the tube to the negative electrode, a current flows. Many electrons do not and are recombined, but the tube structure of the titanium dioxide allows an order of magnitude more electrons to make it to the electrode than with particulate coatings.

"There is still a great deal of optimization of the design that needs to be done," says Grimes. "Now, with the help of the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority, we will have equipment to make high quality titanium coatings that are thicker. If we get about 3 percent conversion with 360 nanometers, what we could get with 4 microns is an exciting question we soon hope to answer."

The thickness of the titanium layer constrains the height of the nanotubes.With thicker initial coatings, longer tubes would produce more electrons that do not recombine, producing more electricity.

Other aspects of the titania nanotube dye sensitive solar cells that need to be optimized include the thickness of the cells. Currently, spacers separate the two layers and provide internal support. These spacers are 25 microns thick. If the spacers could be made as sturdy, but shorter, there would be less of a distance for the electrons to travel and more electrons will make it across the electrodes.

Grimes team includes Dr. Gopal K. Mor, Dr. Maggie Paulose and Dr. Oomman K. Varghese, postdoctoral researchers in Penn State's Materials Research Institute, and Karthik Shankar, graduate student in electrical engineering. The National Science Foundation supported this work and a recent grant from the U.S. Department of Energy will help optimize the solar cells.

####
Contact:
A'ndrea Messer
aem1@psu.edu
live.psu.edu
814-865-9481

Vicki Fong
vfong@psu.edu
live.psu.edu
814-865-9481

Copyright Penn State

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Possible Futures

Smaller, faster, cheaper: A new type of modulator for the future of data transmission July 27th, 2015

Researchers predict material with record-setting melting point July 27th, 2015

Global Corrosion Resistant Nano Coatings Market To 2015: Acute Market Reports July 27th, 2015

Global Zinc oxide nanopowders Industry 2015: Acute Market Reports July 25th, 2015

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes

Controlling Dynamic Behavior of Carbon Nanosheets in Structures Made Possible July 30th, 2015

March 2016; 6th Int'l Conference on Nanostructures in Iran July 29th, 2015

Short wavelength plasmons observed in nanotubes: Berkeley Lab researchers create Ludinger liquid plasmons in metallic SWNTs July 28th, 2015

'Seeing' molecular interactions could give boost to organic electronics July 28th, 2015

Announcements

Sol-gel capacitor dielectric offers record-high energy storage July 30th, 2015

Controlling Dynamic Behavior of Carbon Nanosheets in Structures Made Possible July 30th, 2015

Newly-Developed Polymers Control Size of Nanoparticles during Production Process July 30th, 2015

Detecting small metallic contaminants in food via magnetization: A practical metallic-contaminant detecting system using three high-Tc RF superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) July 29th, 2015

Energy

Controlling Dynamic Behavior of Carbon Nanosheets in Structures Made Possible July 30th, 2015

March 2016; 6th Int'l Conference on Nanostructures in Iran July 29th, 2015

Smaller, faster, cheaper: A new type of modulator for the future of data transmission July 27th, 2015

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity: UC Riverside researchers find a way to use the infrared region of the sun's spectrum to make solar cells more efficient July 27th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project