June 30, 2008

Dye boosts nanotube solar cell

One way to increase solar cell efficiency is to make make sure the electrons freed by absorbed photons continue to flow freely in a stream of useful electricity rather than recombing with holes -- the positively-charged spaces where negatively-charged electrons fit.

A prototype dye-sensitized solar cell combines recently developed sunlight-absorbing dye and titanium dioxide nanotubes to increase the time it takes electrons absorbed by the dye to combine with holes. This boosts the cell's efficiency. The prototype converts sunlight to electricity with 4.1% efficiency. Increasing the length of the nanotubes should boost the efficiency further.

Dye-sensitized solar cells have the potential to be several times less expensive than today's more efficient silicon solar cells.

Research paper:
Highly Efficient Solar Cells using TiO2 Nanotube Arrays Sensitized with a Donor-Antenna Dye
Nano Letters, June 30, 2008

Researcher's homepage:
Craig A. Grimes (see Q&A: Penn State's Craig Grimes)

Related stories and briefs:
Sunny nanotubes
Carbon gets more hydrogen
Nanotubes crank out hydrogen

Back to ERN June 30, 2008

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