Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

U of T-led research improves performance of next-generation solar cell technology

19.09.2011
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 without the bulky organic molecules.

"We wrapped a single layer of atoms around each particle. As a result, they packed the quantum dots into a very dense solid," explains Dr. Jiang Tang, the first author of the paper who conducted the research while a post-doctoral fellow in The Edward S. Rogers Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at U of T.

The team showed the highest electrical currents, and the highest overall power conversion efficiency, ever seen in CQD solar cells. The performance results were certified by an external laboratory, Newport, that is accredited by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

"The team proved that we were able to remove charge traps - locations where electrons get stuck - while still packing the quantum dots closely together," says Professor John Asbury of Penn State, a co-author of the work.

The combination of close packing and charge trap elimination enabled electrons to move rapidly and smoothly through the solar cells, thus providing record efficiency.

"This finding proves the power of inorganic ligands in building practical devices," states Professor Dmitri Talapin of The University of Chicago, who is a research leader in the field. "This new surface chemistry provides the path toward both efficient and stable quantum dot solar cells. It should also impact other electronic and optoelectronic devices that utilize colloidal nanocrystals. Advantages of the all-inorganic approach include vastly improved electronic transport and a path to long-term stability."

"At KAUST we were able to visualize, with incredible resolution on the sub-nanometer lengthscale, the structure and composition of this remarkable new class of materials," states Professor Aram Amassian of KAUST, a co-author on the work.

"We proved that the inorganic passivants were tightly correlated with the location of the quantum dots; and that it was this new approach to chemical passivation, rather than nanocrystal ordering, that led to this record-breaking colloidal quantum dot solar cell performance," he adds.

As a result of the potential of this research discovery, a technology licensing agreement has been signed by U of T and KAUST, brokered by MaRS Innovations (MI), which will will enable the global commercialization of this new technology.

"The world - and the marketplace - need solar innovations that break the existing compromise between performance and cost. Through U of T's, MI's, and KAUST's partnership, we are poised to translate exciting research into tangible innovations that can be commercialized," said Sargent.

To read the published paper in its entirety, please contact Liam Mitchell, Communications & Media Relations Strategist for the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, University of Toronto.

About Engineering at the University of Toronto

The Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering at the University of Toronto is the premier engineering institution in Canada and among the very best in the world. With approximately 4,850 undergraduates, 1,600 graduate students and 230 professors, U of T Engineering is at the fore of innovation in engineering education and research. www.engineering.utoronto.ca

For more information, please contact:

Professor Edward Sargent
The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, University of Toronto
416-946-5051 | ted.sargent@utoronto.ca
Liam Mitchell
Communications & Media Relations Strategist
Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, University of Toronto
416-978-4498 | media@ecf.utoronto.ca

Liam Mitchell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utoronto.ca

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht New design improves performance of flexible wearable electronics
23.06.2017 | North Carolina State University

nachricht Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics
22.06.2017 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Collapse of the European ice sheet caused chaos

27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences

NASA sees quick development of Hurricane Dora

27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences

New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins

27.06.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>