Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Perfecting a solar cell by adding imperfections

Abstract:
Nanotechnology is paving the way toward improved solar cells. New research shows that a film of carbon nanotubes may be able to replace two of the layers normally used in a solar cell, with improved performance at a lower cost. Researchers have found a surprising way to give the nanotubes the properties they need: add defects.

Perfecting a solar cell by adding imperfections

Santa Fe, NM | Posted on June 16th, 2008

Currently, these solar cells, called dye-sensitized solar cells, have a transparent film made of an oxide that is applied to glass and conducts electricity. In addition, a separate film made of platinum acts as a catalyst to speed the chemical reactions involved.

Both of these materials have disadvantages, though. The oxide films can't easily be applied to flexible materials: they perform much better on a rigid and heat resistant substrate like glass. This increases costs and limits the kinds of products that can be made. And expensive equipment is necessary to create the platinum films.

Jessika Trancik of the Santa Fe Institute, Scott Calabrese Barton of Michigan State University and James Hone of Columbia University decided to use carbon nanotubes to create a single layer that could perform the functions of both the oxide and platinum layers. They needed it to have three properties: transparency, conductivity, and catalytic activity.

Ordinary carbon nanotubes films are so-so in each of these properties. The obvious ways of improving one, though, sacrifice one of the others. For example, making the film thicker makes it a better catalyst, but then it's less transparent.

Previous theory had suggested that materials may function better as catalysts when they have tiny defects, providing sites for chemicals to attach. So the researchers tried exposing the carbon nanotubes to ozone, which roughs them up a bit. Very thin films, they found, became dramatically better catalysts, with more than ten-fold improvement.

In fact, the performance gets close to that of platinum. "That's remarkable," Trancik says, "because platinum is considered pretty much the best catalyst there is."

In order to address the trade-off between transparency and conductivity, the researchers tried another trick on a bottom layer of tubes: they created carbon nanotubes that were longer. This improved both conductivity and transparency.

The carbon nanotube films might be used in fuel cells and batteries as well.

"This study is an example of using nanostructuring of materials - changing things like defect density and tube length at very small scales - to shift trade-offs between materials properties and get more performance out of a given material," Trancik says. "Making inexpensive materials behave in advanced ways is critical for achieving low-carbon emissions and low cost energy technologies."

The researchers published their results recently in Nano Letters. They are currently in the process of filing a patent application for their techniques.

####

About Santa Fe Institute
The Santa Fe Institute (SFI) is an acknowledged leader in multidisciplinary scientific research. Its objectives are to discover and understand the common fundamental principles in physical, computational, biological, and social complex systems that underlie many of the most profound issues facing science and society today. By transcending disciplines, breaking academic molds, and drawing together an international network of unorthodox creative thinkers, SFI is an independent non-profit research and education center supported by grants, charitable giving, and corporate relationships.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Jessika Trancik

505-946-2794

Copyright © Santa Fe Institute

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

News and information

Haydale Secures Exclusive Development and Supply Agreement with Tantec A/S: New reactors to be built and commissioned by Tantec A/S represent another step forward towards the commercialisation of graphene October 24th, 2014

QuantumWise guides the semiconductor industry towards the atomic scale October 24th, 2014

MEMS & Sensors Technology Showcase: Finalists Announced for MEMS Executive Congress US 2014 October 23rd, 2014

Nanoparticle technology triples the production of biogas October 23rd, 2014

Nanotubes/Buckyballs

Materials for the next generation of electronics and photovoltaics: MacArthur Fellow develops new uses for carbon nanotubes October 21st, 2014

Special UO microscope captures defects in nanotubes: University of Oregon chemists provide a detailed view of traps that disrupt energy flow, possibly pointing toward improved charge-carrying devices October 21st, 2014

Imaging electric charge propagating along microbial nanowires October 20th, 2014

Beyond LEDs: Brighter, new energy-saving flat panel lights based on carbon nanotubes - Planar light source using a phosphor screen with highly crystalline single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) as field emitters demonstrates its potential for energy-efficient lighting device October 14th, 2014

Discoveries

QuantumWise guides the semiconductor industry towards the atomic scale October 24th, 2014

Iranian, Malaysian Scientists Study Nanophotocatalysts for Water Purification October 23rd, 2014

Nanoparticle technology triples the production of biogas October 23rd, 2014

Strengthening thin-film bonds with ultrafast data collection October 23rd, 2014

Announcements

Haydale Secures Exclusive Development and Supply Agreement with Tantec A/S: New reactors to be built and commissioned by Tantec A/S represent another step forward towards the commercialisation of graphene October 24th, 2014

QuantumWise guides the semiconductor industry towards the atomic scale October 24th, 2014

Advancing thin film research with nanostructured AZO: Innovnano’s unique and cost-effective AZO sputtering targets for the production of transparent conducting oxides October 23rd, 2014

Strengthening thin-film bonds with ultrafast data collection October 23rd, 2014

Energy

Nanoparticle technology triples the production of biogas October 23rd, 2014

Advancing thin film research with nanostructured AZO: Innovnano’s unique and cost-effective AZO sputtering targets for the production of transparent conducting oxides October 23rd, 2014

Researchers patent a nanofluid that improves heat conductivity October 22nd, 2014

Could I squeeze by you? Ames Laboratory scientists model molecular movement within narrow channels of mesoporous nanoparticles October 21st, 2014

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Super stable garnet ceramics may be ideal for high-energy lithium batteries October 21st, 2014

Graphenea opens US branch October 16th, 2014

NTU develops ultra-fast charging batteries that last 20 years October 14th, 2014

Electrically conductive plastics promising for batteries, solar cells October 10th, 2014

Fuel Cells

National Synchrotron Light Source II Achieves 'First Light' October 23rd, 2014

Unique catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells synthesized in ordinary kitchen microwave oven October 14th, 2014

Researchers Pump Up Oil Accumulation in Plant Leaves: Method could greatly boost energy content of crops grown for fuel October 8th, 2014

Platinum meets its match in quantum dots from coal: Rice University's cheap hybrid outperforms rare metal as fuel-cell catalyst October 1st, 2014

Solar/Photovoltaic

Advancing thin film research with nanostructured AZO: Innovnano’s unique and cost-effective AZO sputtering targets for the production of transparent conducting oxides October 23rd, 2014

Magnetic mirrors enable new technologies by reflecting light in uncanny ways October 16th, 2014

Dyesol Signs Letter of Intent with Tata Steel October 13th, 2014

DNA nano-foundries cast custom-shaped metal nanoparticles: DNA's programmable assembly is leveraged to form precise 3D nanomaterials for disease detection, environmental testing, electronics and beyond October 10th, 2014

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







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE