Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > University of Minnesota researchers clear major hurdle in road to high-efficiency solar cells

U of M researchers have cleared a major hurdle in the drive to build solar cells with potential efficiencies up to twice as high as current levels.
U of M researchers have cleared a major hurdle in the drive to build solar cells with potential efficiencies up to twice as high as current levels.

Abstract:
A team of University of Minnesota-led researchers has cleared a major hurdle in the drive to build solar cells with potential efficiencies up to twice as high as current levels, which rarely exceed 30 percent.

University of Minnesota researchers clear major hurdle in road to high-efficiency solar cells

Minneapolis / St. Paul, MN | Posted on June 18th, 2010

By showing how energy that is now being lost from semiconductors in solar cells can be captured and transferred to electric circuits, the team has opened a new avenue for solar cell researchers seeking to build cheaper, more efficient solar energy devices. The work is published in this week's Science.

A system built on the research could also slash the cost of manufacturing solar cells by removing the need to process them at very high temperatures.

The achievement crowns six years of work begun at the university Institute of Technology (College of Science and Engineering) chemical engineering and materials science professors Eray Aydil and David Norris and chemistry professor Xiaoyang Zhu (now at the university of Texas-Austin) and spearheaded by U of M graduate student William Tisdale.

In most solar cells now in use, rays from the sun strike the uppermost layer of the cells, which is made of a crystalline semiconductor substance—usually silicon. The problem is that many electrons in the silicon absorb excess amounts of solar energy and radiate that energy away as heat before it can be harnessed.

An early step in harnessing that energy is to transfer these "hot" electrons out of the semiconductor and into a wire, or electric circuit, before they can cool off. But efforts to extract hot electrons from traditional silicon semiconductors have not succeeded.

However, when semiconductors are constructed in small pieces only a few nanometers wide -- "quantum dots" -- their properties change.

"Theory says that quantum dots should slow the loss of energy as heat," said Tisdale. "And a 2008 paper from the University of Chicago showed this to be true. The big question for us was whether we could also speed up the extraction and transfer of hot electrons enough to grab them before they cooled. "

In the current work, Tisdale and his colleagues demonstrated that quantum dots—made not of silicon but of another semiconductor called lead selenide -- could indeed be made to surrender their "hot" electrons before they cooled. The electrons were pulled away by titanium dioxide, another common inexpensive and abundant semiconductor material that behaves like a wire.

"This is a very promising result," said Tisdale. "We've shown that you can pull hot electrons out very quickly - before they lose their energy. This is exciting fundamental science."

The work shows that the potential for building solar cells with efficiencies approaching 66 percent exists, according to Aydil.

"This work is a necessary but not sufficient step for building very high-efficiency solar cells," he said. "It provides a motivation for researchers to work on quantum dots and solar cells based on quantum dots."

The next step is to construct solar cells with quantum dots and study them. But one big problem still remains: "Hot" electrons also lose their energy in titanium dioxide. New solar cell designs will be needed to eliminate this loss, the researchers said.

Still, "I'm comfortable saying that electricity from solar cells is going to be a large fraction of our energy supply in the future," Aydil noted.

The research was funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy and partially by the National Science Foundation. Other authors of the paper were Brooke Timp from the University of Minnesota and Kenrick Williams from UT-Austin.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Preston Smith
University News Service

612-625-0552

Copyright © University of Minnesota

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

Building a smart cardiac patch: 'Bionic' cardiac patch could one day monitor and respond to cardiac problems June 28th, 2016

New, better way to build circuits for world's first useful quantum computers June 28th, 2016

Yale researchers’ technology turns wasted heat into power June 27th, 2016

FEI Launches Helios G4 DualBeam Series for Materials Science: The Helios G4 DualBeam Series features new capabilities to enable scientists and engineers to answer the most demanding and challenging scientific questions June 27th, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

Ultrathin, flat lens resolves chirality and color: Multifunctional lens could replace bulky, expensive machines June 25th, 2016

Particle zoo in a quantum computer: First experimental quantum simulation of particle physics phenomena June 23rd, 2016

Titan shines light on high-temperature superconductor pathway: Simulation demonstrates how superconductivity arises in cuprates' pseudogap phase June 22nd, 2016

Possible Futures

Building a smart cardiac patch: 'Bionic' cardiac patch could one day monitor and respond to cardiac problems June 28th, 2016

New, better way to build circuits for world's first useful quantum computers June 28th, 2016

Yale researchers’ technology turns wasted heat into power June 27th, 2016

Superheroes are real: Ultrasensitive nonlinear metamaterials for data transfer June 25th, 2016

Academic/Education

JPK’s NanoWizard® AFM and ForceRobot® systems are being used in the field of medical diagnostics in the Supersensitive Molecular Layer Laboratory of POSTECH in Korea June 21st, 2016

Weizmann Institute of Science Presents: Weizmann Wonder Wander - 4G - is Online June 21st, 2016

NanoLabNL boosts quality of research facilities as Dutch Toekomstfonds invests firmly June 10th, 2016

The Institute for Transfusion Medicine at the University Hospital of Duisburg-Essen in Germany uses the ZetaView from Particle Metrix to quantify extracellular vesicles June 7th, 2016

Announcements

Building a smart cardiac patch: 'Bionic' cardiac patch could one day monitor and respond to cardiac problems June 28th, 2016

New, better way to build circuits for world's first useful quantum computers June 28th, 2016

Yale researchers’ technology turns wasted heat into power June 27th, 2016

FEI Launches Helios G4 DualBeam Series for Materials Science: The Helios G4 DualBeam Series features new capabilities to enable scientists and engineers to answer the most demanding and challenging scientific questions June 27th, 2016

Energy

Yale researchers’ technology turns wasted heat into power June 27th, 2016

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

Researchers discover new chemical sensing technique: Technique allows sharper detail -- and more information -- with near infrared light June 24th, 2016

FEI and University of Liverpool Announce QEMSCAN Research Initiative: University of Liverpool will utilize FEI’s QEMSCAN technology to gain a better insight into oil and gas reserves & potentially change the approach to evaluating them June 22nd, 2016

Quantum Dots/Rods

A new form of hybrid photodetectors with quantum dots and graphene June 19th, 2016

Supercrystals with new architecture can enhance drug synthesis May 24th, 2016

ORNL demonstrates large-scale technique to produce quantum dots May 21st, 2016

First single-enzyme method to produce quantum dots revealed: Biological manufacturing process, pioneered by three Lehigh University engineers, produces equivalent quantum dots to those made chemically--but in a much greener, cheaper way May 9th, 2016

Research partnerships

Superheroes are real: Ultrasensitive nonlinear metamaterials for data transfer June 25th, 2016

Soft decoupling of organic molecules on metal June 23rd, 2016

FEI and University of Liverpool Announce QEMSCAN Research Initiative: University of Liverpool will utilize FEI’s QEMSCAN technology to gain a better insight into oil and gas reserves & potentially change the approach to evaluating them June 22nd, 2016

Tailored DNA shifts electrons into the 'fast lane': DNA nanowire improved by altering sequences June 22nd, 2016

Solar/Photovoltaic

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

New generation of high-efficiency solar thermal absorbers developed June 20th, 2016

Novel capping strategy improves stability of perovskite nanocrystals: Study addresses instability issues with organometal-halide perovskites, a promising class of materials for solar cells, LEDs, and other applications June 13th, 2016

Perovskite solar cells surpass 20 percent efficiency: EPFL researchers are pushing the limits of perovskite solar cell performance by exploring the best way to grow these crystals June 13th, 2016

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







Car Brands
Buy website traffic