Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Highly Efficient Solar Cells Could Result from Quantum Dot Research

Abstract:
Conventional solar cell efficiency could be increased from the current limit of 30 percent to more than 60 percent, suggests new research on semiconductor nanocrystals, or quantum dots, led by chemist Xiaoyang Zhu at The University of Texas at Austin.

Zhu and his colleagues report their results in this week's Science.

Highly Efficient Solar Cells Could Result from Quantum Dot Research

Austin, TX | Posted on June 20th, 2010

The scientists have discovered a method to capture the higher energy sunlight that is lost as heat in conventional solar cells.

The maximum efficiency of the silicon solar cell in use today is about 31 percent. That's because much of the energy from sunlight hitting a solar cell is too high to be turned into usable electricity. That energy, in the form of so-called "hot electrons," is lost as heat.

If the higher energy sunlight, or more specifically the hot electrons, could be captured, solar-to-electric power conversion efficiency could be increased theoretically to as high as 66 percent.

"There are a few steps needed to create what I call this 'ultimate solar cell,'" says Zhu, professor of chemistry and director of the Center for Materials Chemistry. "First, the cooling rate of hot electrons needs to be slowed down. Second, we need to be able to grab those hot electrons and use them quickly before they lose all of their energy."

Zhu says that semiconductor nanocrystals, or quantum dots, are promising for these purposes.

As for the first problem, a number of research groups have suggested that cooling of hot electrons can be slowed down in semiconductor nanocrystals. In a 2008 paper in Science, a research group from the University of Chicago showed this to be true unambiguously for colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals.

Zhu's team has now figured out the next critical step: how to take those electrons out.

They discovered that hot electrons can be transferred from photo-excited lead selenide nanocrystals to an electron conductor made of widely used titanium dioxide.

"If we take the hot electrons out, we can do work with them," says Zhu. "The demonstration of this hot electron transfer establishes that a highly efficient hot carrier solar cell is not just a theoretical concept, but an experimental possibility."

The researchers used quantum dots made of lead selenide, but Zhu says that their methods will work for quantum dots made of other materials, too.

He cautions that this is just one scientific step, and that more science and a lot of engineering need to be done before the world sees a 66 percent efficient solar cell.

In particular, there's a third piece of the science puzzle that Zhu is working on: connecting to an electrical conducting wire.

"If we take out electrons from the solar cell that are this fast, or hot, we also lose energy in the wire as heat," says Zhu. "Our next goal is to adjust the chemistry at the interface to the conducting wire so that we can minimize this additional energy loss. We want to capture most of the energy of sunlight. That's the ultimate solar cell.

"Fossil fuels come at a great environmental cost," says Zhu. "There is no reason that we cannot be using solar energy 100 percent within 50 years."

Funding for this research was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy. Coauthors include William Tisdale, Brooke Timp, David Norris and Eray Aydil from the University of Minnesota, and Kenrick Williams from The University of Texas at Austin.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Lee Clippard
College of Natural Sciences
512-232-0675

Dr. Xiaoyang Zhu
professor of chemistry
512-471-9914

Copyright © University of Texas at Austin

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

Superfast light source made from artificial atom April 28th, 2016

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Files for Regulatory Clearance to Begin Phase 1/2 Study of ARC-521 April 28th, 2016

The Translational Research Center at the University Hospital of Erlangen in Germany uses the ZetaView from Particle Metrix to quantify extracellular vesicles such as exosomes April 28th, 2016

JPK reports on the use of a NanoWizard AFM system at the University of Kaiserslautern to study the interaction of bacteria with microstructured surfaces April 28th, 2016

Possible Futures

Superfast light source made from artificial atom April 28th, 2016

NREL finds nanotube semiconductors well-suited for PV systems April 27th, 2016

Danish researchers behind vaccine breakthrough April 27th, 2016

NREL theory establishes a path to high-performance 2-D semiconductor devices April 27th, 2016

Academic/Education

JPK reports on the use of a NanoWizard AFM system at the University of Kaiserslautern to study the interaction of bacteria with microstructured surfaces April 28th, 2016

The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute uses the ZetaView from Particle Metrix to study membrane microparticles as potential biomarkers for underlying diseases April 12th, 2016

FEI Partners with Five Pharmaceutical Companies, the Medical Research Council and the University of Cambridge to form Cryo-EM Research Consortium April 5th, 2016

SUNY Poly, in Collaboration with the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Stony Brook University, Demonstrates Pioneering Method to Visualize and Identify Engineered Nanoparticles in Tissue March 25th, 2016

Announcements

Superfast light source made from artificial atom April 28th, 2016

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Files for Regulatory Clearance to Begin Phase 1/2 Study of ARC-521 April 28th, 2016

The Translational Research Center at the University Hospital of Erlangen in Germany uses the ZetaView from Particle Metrix to quantify extracellular vesicles such as exosomes April 28th, 2016

JPK reports on the use of a NanoWizard AFM system at the University of Kaiserslautern to study the interaction of bacteria with microstructured surfaces April 28th, 2016

Energy

NREL finds nanotube semiconductors well-suited for PV systems April 27th, 2016

Researchers create artificial protein to control assembly of buckyballs April 27th, 2016

Flipping a chemical switch helps perovskite solar cells beat the heat April 26th, 2016

New spin Seebeck thermoelectric device with higher conversion efficiency created April 26th, 2016

Quantum Dots/Rods

Superfast light source made from artificial atom April 28th, 2016

Quantum dots enhance light-to-current conversion in layered semiconductors: Research demonstrates promise of a new approach for improving solar cells, photocatalysts, light sensors, and other optoelectronic devices April 11th, 2016

Revealing the ion transport at nanoscale March 30th, 2016

Sweet 'quantum dots' light the way for new HIV and Ebola treatment March 15th, 2016

Solar/Photovoltaic

NREL finds nanotube semiconductors well-suited for PV systems April 27th, 2016

Flipping a chemical switch helps perovskite solar cells beat the heat April 26th, 2016

Manipulating light inside opaque layers April 24th, 2016

Thin-film solar cells: How defects appear and disappear in CIGSe cells: Concentration of copper plays a crucial role April 23rd, 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