October 20, 2008

Dye solar cell goes both ways

Add the right material to a dye-sensitized solar cell and position it so that it captures light from the front and back and you can boost the amount of electricity the cell generates.

The active layer in dye-sensitized solar cells is a dye-covered semiconductor material. The dye absorbs photons and emits electrons. The semiconductor transports the electrons to an electrode.

Solar cells can generally generate up to 50 percent more electricity by capturing light from both the front and back, but the back sides of standard dye-sensitized solar cells tend to be less efficient than their front sides.

The two-way dye-sensitized solar cell has a layer of silicon oxide insulating the semiconductor from the back electrode and a carefully sized semiconductor layer. These boost the back side efficiency to close to that of the front side.

Dye-sensitized solar cells are relatively inefficient but potentially inexpensive.

Bifacial solar cells can be positioned facing east and west to capture morning and afternoon light.

Research paper:
Bifacial Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells Based on an Ionic Liquid Electrolyte
Nature Photonics, published online October 19, 2008

Researchers' homepage:
Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces, Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne

Related stories and briefs:
Salts boost dye solar cells -- related research

Back to ERN October 20/27, 2008



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