Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Nanowire generates its own electricity

Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office

Charles M. Lieber, the Mark Hyman Jr. Professor of Chemistry
Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office

Charles M. Lieber, the Mark Hyman Jr. Professor of Chemistry

Abstract:
Microscopic wire has photovoltaic properties

Nanowire generates its own electricity

Cambridge, MA | Posted on October 21st, 2007

Harvard chemists have built a new wire out of photosensitive materials that is hundreds of times smaller than a human hair. The wire not only carries electricity to be used in vanishingly small circuits, but generates power as well.

Charles M. Lieber, the Mark Hyman Jr. Professor of Chemistry, and colleagues created the nanowire out of three different kinds of silicon with different electrical properties. The silicon is wrapped in layers to create the wire. When light falls on the outer material, a process begins due to the interaction of the core with the shell layers, leading to the creation of electrical charges.

The work was described in the Oct. 18 issue of the journal Nature.

The idea of creating nanoscale photovoltaics is not new, Lieber said, but prior efforts used organic compounds in combination with semiconductor nanostructures that had lower efficiency and that degraded under concentrated sunlight. Lieber's materials have several advantages, he said. The materials are more efficient, converting 3.4 percent of the sunlight into electricity; they can withstand concentrated light without deteriorating, gaining efficiency up to about 5 percent; and they're as cheap to make as other related nanoscale photovoltaic devices.

"The real [question] is whether there's a new geometry that will lead to better photovoltaic technology," Lieber said. "We worked on coaxial geometry."

The most recent development builds on Lieber's considerable prior work on nanoscale devices. He has developed sensors with potential bioterrorism applications that can detect a single virus or other particle, nanowire arrays that can detect signals in individual neurons, and a cracker-sized detector for cancer.

A cheap nanoscale power source broadens the potential applications of such nanoscale devices. Though the tiny photovoltaic cells can generate enough electricity to power a similarly tiny circuit, Lieber said they're not yet efficient enough to have applications on the scale of commercial power generation.

Commercial solar cells, he said, have efficiencies around 20 percent, compared with 3.4 percent for his nano-solar cells. One avenue of future research, Lieber said, will be to explore ways to boost efficiency of the nanowire photovoltaics. If they can reach 10 to 15 percent, he said, their lower cost of production they can be made from relatively inexpensive materials and don't require clean rooms to produce may make them useful in larger-scale applications.

"There's no physical reason it couldn't be higher," Lieber said. "I'm pretty optimistic that we'll be able to track down the efficiency issue."

Until then, Lieber sees a future for the nanowire photovoltaics in niche applications, such as multiple distributed sensors or durable, flexible devices, possibly sewn into clothing or worn as a patch.

"It will have to be unique to be an economically viable application, some place where you want durability and flexibility, where if it gets destroyed, people don't care," Lieber said.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Harvard University
Office of News and Public Affairs
Holyoke Center 1060
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Tel: 617-495-1585

Copyright © Harvard University

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

Nanoelectronics

Magnetic antiparticles offer new horizons for information technologies: Computer simulations reveal new behavior of antiskyrmions in gradually increased electric currents August 21st, 2018

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte: Milestone of energy efficiency in information technology -- Publication in Advanced Materials August 17th, 2018

Flipping the switch on supramolecular electronics August 14th, 2018

Quantum chains in graphene nanoribbons: Breakthrough in nanoresearch August 9th, 2018

Announcements

Researchers identify structural changes that occur in enveloped viruses before invading host August 21st, 2018

Magnetic antiparticles offer new horizons for information technologies: Computer simulations reveal new behavior of antiskyrmions in gradually increased electric currents August 21st, 2018

Energy-efficient spin current can be controlled by magnetic field and temperature: SCMR effect simplifies the design of fundamental spintronic components August 20th, 2018

Color effects from transparent 3D printed nanostructures: New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D print templates for user-given colors Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference August 18th, 2018

Energy

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte: Milestone of energy efficiency in information technology -- Publication in Advanced Materials August 17th, 2018

Scientists turn to the quantum realm to improve energy transportation August 17th, 2018

Particles pull last drops of oil from well water: Rice University engineers find nanoscale solution to 'produced water' problem August 15th, 2018

CTI Materials drives nano commercialization with it's patented surfactant free nanoparticle dispersions August 15th, 2018

Solar/Photovoltaic

NUST MISIS scientists present metamaterial for solar cells and nanooptics July 23rd, 2018

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Team achieves two-electron chemical reactions using light energy, gold May 15th, 2018

Hematene joins parade of new 2D materials: Rice University-led team extracts 3-atom-thick sheets from common iron oxide May 8th, 2018

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project