Navigation Links
Cobalt replacements make solar cells more sustainable

Researchers at the University of Basel have successfully replaced the rare element iodine in copper-based dye-sensitized solar cells by the more abundant element cobalt, taking a step forward in the development of environmentally friendly energy production. The journal Chemical Communications has published the results of these so-called Cu-Co cells.

Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) transform light to electricity. They consist of a semiconductor on which a dye is anchored. This colored complex absorbs light and through an electron transfer process produces electrical current. Electrolytes act as electron transport agents inside the DSCs.

Usually, iodine and iodide serve as an electrolyte. Chemists at the University of Basel have now been able to successfully replace the usual iodine-based electron transport system in copper-based DSCs by a cobalt compound. Tests showed no loss in performance.

The replacement of iodine significantly increases the sustainability of solar cells: Iodine is a rare element, only present at a level of 450 parts per billion in the Earth, whereas cobalt is 50 times more abundant, explains the Project Officer Dr. Biljana Bozic-Weber. Furthermore, this replacement also removes one of the long-term degradation processes in which copper compounds react with the electrolyte to form copper iodide and thus improves the long-term stability of DSCs.

The research group around the Basel chemistry professors Ed Constable and Catherine Housecroft is currently working on optimizing the performance of DSCs based on copper complexes. They had previously shown in 2012 that the very rare element ruthenium in solar cells could be replaced by copper derivatives.

This is the first report of DSCs, which combine copper-based dyes and cobalt electrolytes and thus represents a critical step towards the development of stable iodide-free copper solar cells. However, many aspects relating to the efficiency need to be addressed before commercialization can begin in anything other than niche markets.

Molecular Systems Engineering

In changing any one component of these solar cells, it is necessary to optimize all other parts as a consequence, says Ed Constable. This is part of a new approach termed Molecular Systems Engineering in which all molecular and material components of a system can be integrated and optimized to approach new levels of sophistication in nanoscale machinery. In this publication, the engineering of the electrolyte, the dye and the semiconductor are all described.

This systems chemistry approach is particularly appropriate for the engineering of inorganic-biological hybrids and is the basis of ongoing collaborations with the ETH Department of Biosystems Engineering in Basel (D-BSSE) and EMPA. A joint proposal by the University of Basel and D-BSSE for a new National Centre of Competence in Research in this area is currently in the final stages of appraisal.


Contact: Reto Caluori
University of Basel

Related biology news :

1. Champion nano-rust for producing solar hydrogen
2. Organic electronics: Imaging defects in solar cells
3. Solar-powered nanofilters pump in antibiotics to clean contaminated water
4. NREL launches initiative to build solar performance database
5. NREL assembles industry working group to advance solar securitization
6. Searching for the solar systems chemical recipe
7. Solar power: Is it time for the big push?
8. Black silicon can take efficiency of solar cells to new levels
9. NJIT and Chinese Tech Institute join forces for 2013 Solar Decathlon in China
10. Using snail teeth to improve solar cells and batteries
11. NREL updates solar radiation database
Post Your Comments:
(Date:4/11/2017)... April 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, a globally-recognized ... solutions, today announced that it has been awarded ... Projects Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation Presentation Attack ... "Innovation has been a driving force within ... will allow us to innovate and develop new ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ:   NXTD ) ... appointment of independent Directors Mr. Robin D. Richards ... Directors, furthering the company,s corporate governance and expertise. ... Gino Pereira , Chief Executive ... their guidance and benefiting from their considerable expertise as we ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... 2017 Today HYPR Corp. , leading ... component of the HYPR platform is officially FIDO® ... security architecture that empowers biometric authentication across Fortune 500 ... secured over 15 million users across the financial services ... home product suites and physical access represent a growing ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... and pregnancy rates in frozen and fresh in vitro fertilization (IVF) ... maternal age to IVF success. , After comparing the results from the fresh ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... For ... has won a US2020 STEM Mentoring Award. Representatives of the FirstHand program travelled ... Volunteer Experience from US2020. , US2020’s mission is to change the trajectory of ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... process optimization firm for the life sciences and healthcare industries, announces a presentation ... San Francisco. , The presentation, “Automating GxP Validation for Agile Cloud Platforms,” will ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... ... At its national board meeting in North Carolina, ARCS® Foundation ... Physics and Astronomy, has been selected for membership in ARCS Alumni Hall of ... Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental physics for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: