Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Forcing mismatched elements together could yield better solar cells

Abstract:
In what could be a step toward higher efficiency solar cells, an international team including University of Michigan professors has invalidated the most commonly used model to explain the behavior of a unique class of materials called highly mismatched alloys.

Forcing mismatched elements together could yield better solar cells

Ann Arbor, MI | Posted on September 10th, 2010

U-M professors from the departments of Materials Science and Engineering, and Physics contributed to this research.

Highly mismatched alloys, which are still in the experimental stages of development, are combinations of elements that won't naturally mix together using conventional crystal growth techniques. Professor Rachel Goldman compares them to some extent to homogenized milk, in which the high-fat cream and low-fat milk that would naturally separate are forced to mix together at high pressure.

New mixing methods such as "molecular beam epitaxy" are allowing researchers to combine disparate elements. The results, Goldman says, are more dramatic than smooth milk.

"Highly mismatched alloys have very unusual properties," said Goldman, a professor in the departments of Materials Science and Engineering, and Physics. "You can add just a sprinkle of one element and drastically change the electrical and optical properties of the alloy."

Solar cells convert energy from the sun into electricity by absorbing light. However, different materials absorb light at different wavelengths. The most efficient solar cells are made of multiple materials that together can capture a greater portion of the electromagnetic radiation in sunlight. The best solar cells today are still missing a material that can make use of a portion of the sun's infrared light.

Goldman's team made samples of gallium arsenide nitride, a highly mismatched alloy that is spiked with nitrogen, which can tap into that underutilized infrared radiation.

The researchers used molecular beam epitaxy to coax the nitrogen to mix with their other elements. Molecular beam epitaxy involves vaporizing pure samples of the mismatched elements and combining them in a vacuum.

Next, the researchers measured the alloy's ability to convert heat into electricity. They wanted to determine whether its 10 parts per million of nitrogen were distributed as individual atoms or as clusters. They found that in some cases, the nitrogen atoms had grouped together, contrary to what the prevailing "band anti-crossing" model predicted.

"We've shown experimentally that the band anti-crossing model is too simple to explain the electronic properties of highly mismatched alloys," Goldman said. "It does not quantitatively explain several of their extraordinary optical and electronic properties. Atomic clusters have a significant impact on the electronic properties of alloy films."

If researchers can learn to control the formation of these clusters, they could build materials that are more efficient at converting light and heat into electricity, Goldman said.

"The availability of higher efficiency thermoelectrics would make it more practical to generate electricity from waste heat such as that produced in power plants and car engines," Goldman said.

This research will be published in the Sept. 15 issue of Physical Review B. The paper is entitled "Nitrogen composition dependence of electron effective mass in gallium arsenide nitride." Authors include Goldman, as well as Cagliyan Kurdak, an associate professor in the Department of Physics, and Ctirad Uher, a professor in the Department of Physics.

This research was conducted in laboratories of the Center for Solar and Thermal Energy Conversion (CSTEC), a Department of Energy Energy Frontiers Research Center at the University of Michigan. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Science Foundation Ireland, and CSTEC.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Nicole Casal Moore
(734) 647-7087

Copyright © University of Michigan

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

Harris & Harris Group to Host Conference Call on Second-Quarter 2014 Financial Results on August 15, 2014 July 23rd, 2014

UCF Nanotech Spinout Developing Revolutionary Battery Technology: Power the Next Generation of Electronics with Carbon July 23rd, 2014

Deadline Announced for Registration in 7th Int'l Nanotechnology Festival in Iran July 23rd, 2014

A Crystal Wedding in the Nanocosmos July 23rd, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

NNCO Announces an Interactive Webinar: Progress Review on the Coordinated Implementation of the National Nanotechnology Initiative 2011 Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Strategy July 23rd, 2014

Nano-sized Chip "Sniffs Out" Explosives Far Better than Trained Dogs: TAU researcher's groundbreaking sensor detects miniscule concentrations of hazardous materials in the air July 23rd, 2014

NIST shows ultrasonically propelled nanorods spin dizzyingly fast July 22nd, 2014

Penn Study: Understanding Graphene’s Electrical Properties on an Atomic Level July 22nd, 2014

Possible Futures

IBM Announces $3 Billion Research Initiative to Tackle Chip Grand Challenges for Cloud and Big Data Systems: Scientists and engineers to push limits of silicon technology to 7 nanometers and below and create post-silicon future July 10th, 2014

Virus structure inspires novel understanding of onion-like carbon nanoparticles April 10th, 2014

Local girl does good March 22nd, 2014

Surface Characteristics Influence Cellular Growth on Semiconductor Material March 12th, 2014

Materials/Metamaterials

Penn Study: Understanding Graphene’s Electrical Properties on an Atomic Level July 22nd, 2014

NUS scientists use low cost technique to improve properties and functions of nanomaterials: By 'drawing' micropatterns on nanomaterials using a focused laser beam, scientists could modify properties of nanomaterials for effective applications in photonic and optoelectric applicat July 22nd, 2014

Steam from the sun: New spongelike structure converts solar energy into steam July 21st, 2014

Carbyne morphs when stretched: Rice University calculations show carbon-atom chain would go metal to semiconductor July 21st, 2014

Announcements

Harris & Harris Group to Host Conference Call on Second-Quarter 2014 Financial Results on August 15, 2014 July 23rd, 2014

UCF Nanotech Spinout Developing Revolutionary Battery Technology: Power the Next Generation of Electronics with Carbon July 23rd, 2014

Deadline Announced for Registration in 7th Int'l Nanotechnology Festival in Iran July 23rd, 2014

A Crystal Wedding in the Nanocosmos July 23rd, 2014

Environment

Researchers Use Various Zinc Oxide Nanostructures to Boost Efficiency of Water Purification Process July 13th, 2014

Using Sand to Improve Battery Performance: Researchers develop low cost, environmentally friendly way to produce sand-based lithium ion batteries that outperform standard by three times July 8th, 2014

Development of an interactive tool for the implementation of environmental legislation for nanoparticles manufacturers July 4th, 2014

Up in Flames: Evidence Confirms Combustion Theory: Berkeley Lab and University of Hawaii research outlines the story of soot, with implications for cleaner-burning fuels July 1st, 2014

Energy

Oregon chemists eye improved thin films with metal substitution: Solution-based inorganic process could drive more efficient electronics and solar devices July 21st, 2014

Steam from the sun: New spongelike structure converts solar energy into steam July 21st, 2014

3-D nanostructure could benefit nanoelectronics, gas storage: Rice U. researchers predict functional advantages of 3-D boron nitride July 15th, 2014

Nanotechnology that will impact the Security & Defense sectors to be discussed at NanoSD2014 conference July 8th, 2014

Research partnerships

A Crystal Wedding in the Nanocosmos July 23rd, 2014

Penn Study: Understanding Graphene’s Electrical Properties on an Atomic Level July 22nd, 2014

More than glitter: Scientists explain how gold nanoparticles easily penetrate cells, making them useful for delivering drugs July 21st, 2014

Tiny laser sensor heightens bomb detection sensitivity July 19th, 2014

Solar/Photovoltaic

Steam from the sun: New spongelike structure converts solar energy into steam July 21st, 2014

Making dreams come true: Making graphene from plastic? July 2nd, 2014

Shrinky Dinks close the gap for nanowires July 1st, 2014

New Study Raises Possibility of Production of P-Type Solar Cells July 1st, 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