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U of T-led research improves performance of next-generation solar cell technology
Date:9/18/2011

TORONTO, ON Researchers from the University of Toronto (U of T), the King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) and Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) have created the most efficient solar cell ever made based on collodial-quatum-dots (CQD).

The discovery is reported in the latest issue of Nature Materials.

Quantum dots are nanoscale semiconductors that capture light and convert it into an energy source. Because of their small scale, the dots can be sprayed on to flexible surfaces, including plastics. This enables the production of solar cells that are less expensive to produce and more durable than the more widely-known silicon-based version. In the work highlighted by the Nature Materials paper entitled "Collodial-quantum-dot photovoltaics using atomic-ligand passivation," the researchers demonstrate how the wrappers that encapsulate the quantum dots can be shrunk to a mere layer of atoms.

"We figured out how to shrink the passivating materials to the smallest imaginable size," states Professor Ted Sargent, corresponding author on the work and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Nanotechnology at U of T.

A crucial challenge for the field has been striking a balance between convenience and performance. The ideal design is one that tightly packs the quantum dots together. The greater the distance between quantum dots, the lower the efficiency.

However the quantum dots are usually capped with organic molecules that add a nanometer or two. When working on a nanoscale, that is bulky. Yet the organic molecules have been an important ingredient in creating a colloid, which is a substance that is dispersed in another substance. This allows the quantum dots to be painted on to other surfaces.

To solve the problem, the researchers have turned to inorganic ligands, which bind the quantum dots together while using less space. The result is the same colloid characteristics but witho
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Contact: Liam Mitchell
media@ecf.utoronto.ca
416-978-4498
University of Toronto
Source:Eurekalert

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