Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > New molecular framework could lead to flexible solar cells

The Dichtel group in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology has developed a method to organize organic dyes into stacked, porous two-dimensional sheets. These materials may ultimately be incorporated into inexpensive, flexible solar cells. Courtesy Cornell University
The Dichtel group in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology has developed a method to organize organic dyes into stacked, porous two-dimensional sheets. These materials may ultimately be incorporated into inexpensive, flexible solar cells. Courtesy Cornell University

Abstract:
Team discovers simple process for building an organic molecular framework that could pave the way for the development of more economical, flexible and versatile solar cells

By Lauren Gold

New molecular framework could lead to flexible solar cells

Ithaca, NY | Posted on July 2nd, 2010

Think of solar cells, and you probably imagine the thick, heavy silicon panels on rooftops in sunny climates.

Those panels are effective, but they can also be expensive and unwieldy. In the search for a better alternative, a team led by William Dichtel, assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology, has discovered a simple process for building an organic molecular framework that could pave the way for the development of more economical, flexible and versatile solar cells.

The discovery is reported in an article published online on June 20 by the journal Nature Chemistry.

Dichtel's strategy uses organic dye molecules assembled into a structure known as a covalent organic framework (COF). Organic materials have long been recognized as having potential to create thin, flexible and low-cost photovoltaic devices, but it has been proven difficult to organize their component molecules reliably into ordered structures likely to maximize device performance.

COFs, a class of materials first reported in 2005, offer a new way to address this long-range ordering problem; but until now, the known methods for creating them had significant limitations.

"We had to develop a completely new way of making the materials in general," Dichtel said. The strategy uses a simple acid catalyst and relatively stable molecules called protected catechols to assemble key organic molecules into a neatly ordered two-dimensional sheet. These sheets stack on top of one another to form a lattice that provides pathways for charge to move through the material.

The reaction is also reversible, allowing for errors in the process to be undone and corrected.

"The whole system is constantly forming wrong structures alongside the correct one," Dichtel said, "but the correct structure is the most stable, so eventually, the more perfect structures end up dominating." The result is a structure with high surface area that maintains its precise and predictable molecular ordering over large areas.

The researchers used X-ray diffraction to confirm the material's molecular structure and surface area measurements to determine its porosity.

At the core of the framework are molecules called phthalocyanines, a class of common industrial dyes used in products from blue jeans to ink pens.

Phthalocyanines are also closely related in structure to chlorophyll, the compound in plants that absorbs sunlight for photosynthesis. The compounds absorb almost the entire solar spectrum -- a rare property for a single organic material.

"For most organic materials used for electronics, there's a combination of some design to get the materials to perform well enough, and there's a little bit of an element of luck," Dichtel said. "We're trying to remove as much of that element of luck as we can."

The structure by itself is not a solar cell yet, but it is a model that will significantly broaden the scope of materials that can be used in COFs, Dichtel said. "We also hope to take advantage of their structural precision to answer fundamental scientific questions about moving electrons through organic materials."

Once the framework is assembled, the pores between the molecular latticework could potentially be filled with another organic material to form a light, flexible, highly efficient and easy-to-manufacture solar cell.

The next step is to begin testing ways of filling in the gaps with complementary molecules. "This is the very beginning of our work," he said.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Contact:
Blaine Friedlander
(607) 254-8093

Cornell Chronicle:
Lauren Gold
(607) 255-9736

Copyright © Cornell 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

News and information

U.S. Air Force Research Lab Taps IBM to Build Brain-Inspired AI Supercomputing System: Equal to 64 million neurons, new neurosynaptic supercomputing system will power complex AI tasks at unprecedented speed and energy efficiency June 23rd, 2017

Rice U. chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam June 22nd, 2017

Tiny bubbles provide tremendous propulsion in new microparticles research-Ben-Gurion U. June 21st, 2017

Enhanced photocatalytic activity by Cu2O nanoparticles integrated H2Ti3O7 nanotubes June 21st, 2017

Possible Futures

U.S. Air Force Research Lab Taps IBM to Build Brain-Inspired AI Supercomputing System: Equal to 64 million neurons, new neurosynaptic supercomputing system will power complex AI tasks at unprecedented speed and energy efficiency June 23rd, 2017

Rice U. chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam June 22nd, 2017

Tiny bubbles provide tremendous propulsion in new microparticles research-Ben-Gurion U. June 21st, 2017

Researchers developed nanoparticle based contrast agent for dual modal imaging of cancer June 21st, 2017

Academic/Education

Oxford Instruments congratulates Lancaster University for inaugurating the IsoLab, built for studying quantum systems June 20th, 2017

The 2017 Winners for Generation Nano June 8th, 2017

MIT Energy Initiative awards 10 seed fund grants for early-stage energy research May 4th, 2017

Bar-Ilan University to set up quantum research center May 1st, 2017

Discoveries

Rice U. chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam June 22nd, 2017

Tiny bubbles provide tremendous propulsion in new microparticles research-Ben-Gurion U. June 21st, 2017

Enhanced photocatalytic activity by Cu2O nanoparticles integrated H2Ti3O7 nanotubes June 21st, 2017

Researchers developed nanoparticle based contrast agent for dual modal imaging of cancer June 21st, 2017

Announcements

U.S. Air Force Research Lab Taps IBM to Build Brain-Inspired AI Supercomputing System: Equal to 64 million neurons, new neurosynaptic supercomputing system will power complex AI tasks at unprecedented speed and energy efficiency June 23rd, 2017

Rice U. chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam June 22nd, 2017

Tiny bubbles provide tremendous propulsion in new microparticles research-Ben-Gurion U. June 21st, 2017

Enhanced photocatalytic activity by Cu2O nanoparticles integrated H2Ti3O7 nanotubes June 21st, 2017

Energy

Tiny bubbles provide tremendous propulsion in new microparticles research-Ben-Gurion U. June 21st, 2017

Enhanced photocatalytic activity by Cu2O nanoparticles integrated H2Ti3O7 nanotubes June 21st, 2017

Cambridge Nanotherm partners with Inabata for global sales and distribution June 20th, 2017

Development of low-dimensional nanomaterials could revolutionize future technologies June 15th, 2017

Solar/Photovoltaic

Tiny bubbles provide tremendous propulsion in new microparticles research-Ben-Gurion U. June 21st, 2017

Enhanced photocatalytic activity by Cu2O nanoparticles integrated H2Ti3O7 nanotubes June 21st, 2017

Development of low-dimensional nanomaterials could revolutionize future technologies June 15th, 2017

In a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, the physicist Serdar Sarıçiftçi investigates possible uses in electronics of the semiconductor properties of indigo pigment June 14th, 2017

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