Navigation Links
Perfecting a solar cell by adding imperfections
Date:6/16/2008

Nanotechnology is paving the way toward improved solar cells. New research shows that a film of carbon nanotubes may be able to replace two of the layers normally used in a solar cell, with improved performance at a lower cost. Researchers have found a surprising way to give the nanotubes the properties they need: add defects.

Currently, these solar cells, called dye-sensitized solar cells, have a transparent film made of an oxide that is applied to glass and conducts electricity. In addition, a separate film made of platinum acts as a catalyst to speed the chemical reactions involved.

Both of these materials have disadvantages, though. The oxide films can't easily be applied to flexible materials: they perform much better on a rigid and heat resistant substrate like glass. This increases costs and limits the kinds of products that can be made. And expensive equipment is necessary to create the platinum films.

Jessika Trancik of the Santa Fe Institute, Scott Calabrese Barton of Michigan State University and James Hone of Columbia University decided to use carbon nanotubes to create a single layer that could perform the functions of both the oxide and platinum layers. They needed it to have three properties: transparency, conductivity, and catalytic activity.

Ordinary carbon nanotubes films are so-so in each of these properties. The obvious ways of improving one, though, sacrifice one of the others. For example, making the film thicker makes it a better catalyst, but then it's less transparent.

Previous theory had suggested that materials may function better as catalysts when they have tiny defects, providing sites for chemicals to attach. So the researchers tried exposing the carbon nanotubes to ozone, which roughs them up a bit. Very thin films, they found, became dramatically better catalysts, with more than ten-fold improvement.

In fact, the performance gets close to that of platinum. "That's remarkable," Trancik says, "because platinum is considered pretty much the best catalyst there is."

In order to address the trade-off between transparency and conductivity, the researchers tried another trick on a bottom layer of tubes: they created carbon nanotubes that were longer. This improved both conductivity and transparency.

The carbon nanotube films might be used in fuel cells and batteries as well.

"This study is an example of using nanostructuring of materials changing things like defect density and tube length at very small scales to shift trade-offs between materials properties and get more performance out of a given material," Trancik says. "Making inexpensive materials behave in advanced ways is critical for achieving low-carbon emissions and low cost energy technologies."


'/>"/>

Contact: Jessika Trancik
trancik@santafe.edu
505-946-2794
Santa Fe Institute
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. UC San Diego nanostructures will raise thin-film solar cell efficiency
2. Nanowires may boost solar cell efficiency, UC San Diego engineers say
3. New efficiency record for solar cells
4. Special coating greatly improves solar cell performance
5. Solar cell directly splits water for hydrogen
6. Energy Conversion Devices and United Solar Ovonic Enter Into New $55 Million Secured Credit Facility Agreements
7. Solar energy technology licensed
8. New nanostructured thin film shows promise for efficient solar energy conversion
9. Solar cells of the future
10. Nanotech could make solar energy as easy and cheap as growing grass
11. China Technology Announces Entry to the Solar Energy Sector
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/27/2016)... ... 27, 2016 , ... Weeks after hosting a carpal tunnel syndrome workshop with ... surgeon and founder of the Fitzmaurice Hand Institute, has announced the addition of MRI ... state-of-the-art technology and only 1 of about 3 currently available in the United States. ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... Mich. , May 26, 2016  Agriculture nutrients ... Des Moines, Iowa is running their ... Lake Erie and coastal regions ... key to preventing this widespread issue. NECi ... Upper Peninsula, developed a new, easy to ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... , ... May 26, 2016 , ... ... company, today announced several positive developments that position the Company for the future. ... of the transaction, Craig F. Kinghorn has been appointed Chairman of the Board, ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... 25, 2016 , ... Founder of the Fitzmaurice Hand Institute ... surgery of the hand by the National Board of Physicians and Surgeons, as ... beyond in his pursuit of providing the most comprehensive, effective treatment for his ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:4/28/2016)... BANGALORE, India , April 28, 2016 ... subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), and Samsung ... global partnership that will provide end customers with a ... and payment services.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130122/589162 ... for financial services, but it also plays a fundamental part ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... , April 15, 2016  A new ... make more accurate underwriting decisions in a fraction ... timely, competitively priced and high-value life insurance policies ... screenings. With Force Diagnostics, rapid testing ... lifestyle data readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, BMI, ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... PROVIDENCE, R.I. , March 31, 2016  Genomics ... leadership of founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., ... addition, members of the original technical leadership team, including ... Vice President of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice ... have returned to the company. Dr. Bready ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):