Navigation Links
Size matters: Smaller particles could make solar panels more efficient

Studies done by Mark Lusk and colleagues at the Colorado School of Mines could significantly improve the efficiency of solar cells. Their latest work describes how the size of light-absorbing particles--quantum dots--affects the particles' ability to transfer energy to electrons to generate electricity.

The results are published in the April issue of the journal ACS Nano.

The advance provides evidence to support a controversial idea, called multiple-exciton generation (MEG), which theorizes that it is possible for an electron that has absorbed light energy, called an exciton, to transfer that energy to more than one electron, resulting in more electricity from the same amount of absorbed light.

Quantum dots are man-made atoms that confine electrons to a small space. They have atomic-like behavior that results in unusual electronic properties on a nanoscale. These unique properties may be particularly valuable in tailoring the way light interacts with matter.

Experimental verification of the link between MEG and quantum dot size is a hot topic due to a large degree of variation in previously published studies. The ability to generate an electrical current following MEG is now receiving a great deal of attention because this will be a necessary component of any commercial realization of MEG.

For this study, Lusk and collaborators used a National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported high performance computer cluster to quantify the relationship between the rate of MEG and quantum dot size.

They found that each dot has a slice of the solar spectrum for which it is best suited to perform MEG and that smaller dots carry out MEG for their slice more efficiently than larger dots. This implies that solar cells made of quantum dots specifically tuned to the solar spectrum would be much more efficient than solar cells made of material that is not fabricated with quantum dots.

According to Lusk, "We can now design nanostructured materials that generate more than one exciton from a single photon of light, putting to good use a large portion of the energy that would otherwise just heat up a solar cell."

The research team, which includes participation from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is part of the NSF-funded Renewable Energy Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo. The center focuses on materials and innovations that will significantly impact renewable energy technologies. Harnessing the unique properties of nanostructured materials to enhance the performance of solar panels is an area of particular interest to the center.

"These results are exciting because they go far towards resolving a long-standing debate within the field," said Mary Galvin, a program director for the Division of Materials Research at NSF. "Equally important, they will contribute to establishment of new design techniques that can be used to make more efficient solar cells."


Contact: Lisa Van Pay
National Science Foundation

Related biology news :

1. Distribution is what matters: How body fat influences the risk of diabetes
2. Size matters: Eavesdropping on sexual signals
3. Study shows smaller rows contribute to more soybean yields in colder climates
4. For future chips, smaller must also be better
5. Genomic haircut makes worlds tiniest genome even smaller: UBC research
6. After dinosaurs, mammals rise but their genomes get smaller
7. Smaller than expected, but severe, dead zone in Gulf of Mexico
8. Smaller plants punch above their weight in the forest, say Queens biologists
9. New research shows dinosaurs may have been smaller than we thought
10. Nanoparticles in the home: More and smaller than previously detected
11. Rice scientist recognized for stellar work on nanoparticles, cell membranes
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Size matters: Smaller particles could make solar panels more efficient
(Date:10/4/2017)... a global clinical research organization (CRO), announces the launch of Shadow, ... 2017. Shadow is designed to assist medical writers and biometrics teams ... European Medicines Agency (EMA) in meeting the requirements for de-identifying clinical ... ... Tom ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ARMONK, N.Y. and ITHACA, N.Y. ... IBM ) and Cornell University, a leader in dairy ... combined with bioinformatics designed to help reduce the chances ... breaches. With the onset of this dairy project, Cornell ... the Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, a ...
(Date:5/6/2017)... , May 5, 2017 ... just announced a new breakthrough in biometric authentication ... exploits quantum mechanical properties to perform biometric authentication. These ... smart semiconductor material created by Ram Group and ... finance, entertainment, transportation, supply chains and security. Ram ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Disappearing forests and increased emissions are the main ... people each year. Especially those living in larger cities are affected by air pollution ... of the most pollution-affected countries globally - decided to take action. , “I knew ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... , ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... Center’s FirstHand program has won a US2020 STEM Mentoring Award. Representatives of the ... for Excellence in Volunteer Experience from US2020. , US2020’s mission is to change ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 10, 2017 , ... The Pittcon Program Committee is pleased ... scientists who have made outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy. Each ... leading conference and exposition for laboratory science, which will be held February 26-March ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... San Antonio, Texas (PRWEB) , ... ... ... a new study published on October 5, 2017, in the medical journal, ... demonstrated equivalence with the gold standard, video EEG, in detecting generalized tonic-clonic ...
Breaking Biology Technology: