Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland say they have developed a new approach to producing environmentally sustainable photovoltaic devices. The research team developed a new method for producing dye substances and attaching them to the surface of titanium dioxide nanoparticles. With this they demonstrated that simple dye compounds based on zinc, a readily available metal, can be used.
Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) consist of titanium dioxide, a semiconductor material coated with a colored dye. The dye absorbs sunlight and injects electrons into the titanium dioxide, which ultimately results in a photovoltaic current. Conventional DSCs use ruthenium dyes, but ruthenium is very rare and expensive. The research team showed that dyes made with abundant and relatively inexpensive copper are effective in DSCs, and that low-cost zinc compounds can also be used. Although the new devices are not yet especially efficient, the finding opens the way to new generations of DSCs with previously ignored dye types. [via]
Dye-sensitized Solar Cells based on Zinc Compounds - [Link]
Researchers at Notre Dame have developed a solar cell that is remarkably easy to assemble because the middle layer can be painted onto a clear electrode. First, they mix t-butanol, water, cadmium sulfide and titanium dioxide for 30 minutes. Next, they mask off a clear electrode with office tape. Once the tape is in place, they spread the mixture onto the electrode and then anneal it with a heat gun. Finally, they sandwich an electrolyte solution between the new electrode and a graphene composite electrode. And then, it’s time for testing under a beam of artificial light.
Painting Solar Cells with Nanoparticle Paste - [Link]
According to researchers at MIT, living viruses can be harnessed to install highly conductive carbon nanotubes in the anode structures of dye sensitized solar cells, which increases their efficiency by nearly 30%. Dye sensitized solar cells are photo-electro-chemical systems with a semiconductor material located between a photo-sensitized anode and an electrolyte. Sunlight is absorbed by titanium dioxide nanoparticles covered with a dye, which release electrons into the anode. These electrons are collected to power a load, and then returned by the cathode to the electrolyte to close the loop. By harnessing a virus to lace the anode with nanotubes, the researchers managed to boost the cell efficiency from less than 8% to over 10.6%. [via]
Viruses harnessed to fabricate solar cells – [Link]
As Oil prices going up and seems this is going to keep that way, more and more attentions is given to alternative energy sources. Probably solar energy is most attractive due to its nature. Don’t go in to discussions about what alternative energy is the best – all of them are good as long as they are effective.
Researchers in University of California, San Diego have been working on “hairy” solar cells. They discovered that growing nano-wires on photocells boost solar cell efficiency. Nanowires help to conduct electrons from collections surface to electrode.
Higher efficiency solar cells with nano-wires – [Link]