Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Work to Convert Sunlight to Cheaper Energy

22.08.2008
New materials to make devices that convert to cheaper, more efficient electricity is at the heart of research by scientists at South Dakota State University. New technology relies on carbon-based polymers and molecules to find new materials & novel structures to make photovoltaic devices that are cost efficient.

Scientists work to convert sunlight to cheaper electricity at South Dakota State University. Research scientists are working with new materials that can make devices used for converting sunlight to electricity cheaper and more efficiently.

Assistant professor Qiquan Qiao in SDSU’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science said so-called organic photovoltaics, or OPVs, are less expensive to produce than traditional devices for harvesting solar energy.

Qiao and his SDSU colleagues also are working on organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs.

The new technology is sometimes referred to as “molecular electronics” or “organic electronics” — organic because it relies on carbon-based polymers and molecules as semiconductors rather than inorganic semiconductors such as silicon.

“Right now the challenge for photovoltaics is to make the technology less expensive,” Qiao said.

“Therefore, the objective is find new materials and novel device structures for cost-effective photovoltaic devices.

“The beauty of organic photovoltaics and organic LEDs is low cost and flexibility,” the researcher continued.

“These devices can be fabricated by inexpensive, solution-based processing techniques similar to painting or printing.

“The ease of production brings costs down, while the mechanical flexibility of the materials opens up a wide range of applications,” Qiao concluded.

Organic photovoltaics and organic LEDs are made up of thin films of semiconducting organic compounds that can absorb photons of solar energy.

Typically an organic polymer, or a long, flexible chain of carbon-based material, is used as a substrate on which semiconducting materials are applied as a solution using a technique similar to inkjet printing.

“The research at SDSU is focused on new materials with variable band gaps,” Qiao said.

“The band gap determines how much solar energy the photovoltaic device can absorb and convert into electricity.”

Qiao explained that visible sunlight contains only about 50 percent of the total solar energy. That means the sun is giving off just as much non-visible energy as visible energy.

“We’re working on synthesizing novel polymers with variable band gaps, including high, medium and low-band gap varieties, to absorb the full spectrum of sunlight. By this we can double the light harvesting or absorption,” Qiao said.

SDSU’s scientists plan to use the variable band gap polymers to build multi-junction polymer solar cells or photovoltaics.

These devices use multiple layers of polymer/fullerene films that are tuned to absorb different spectral regions of solar energy.

Ideally, photons that are not absorbed by the first film layer pass through to be absorbed by the following layers.

The devices can harvest photons from ultraviolet to visible to infrared in order to efficiently convert the full spectrum of solar energy to electricity.

SDSU scientists also work with organic light-emitting diodes focusing on developing novel materials and devices for full color displays.

“We are working to develop these new light-emitting and efficient, charge-transporting materials to improve the light-emitting efficiency of full color displays,” Qiao said.

Currently, LED technology is used mainly for signage displays. But in the future, as OLEDs become less expensive and more efficient, they may be used for residential lighting, for example.

The new technology will make it easy to insert lights into walls or ceilings. But instead of light bulbs, the lighting apparatus of the future may look more like a poster, Qiao said.

Qiao and his colleagues are funded in part by SDSU’s electrical engineering Ph.D. program and by National Science Foundation and South Dakota EPSCoR, the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

In addition Qiao is one of about 40 faculty members from SDSU, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and the University of South Dakota who have come together to form Photo Active Nanoscale Systems (PANS).

The primary purpose is developing photovoltaics, or devices that will directly convert light to electricity.

Jeanne Jones Manzer | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.sdstate.edu

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Researchers pave the way for ionotronic nanodevices
23.02.2017 | Aalto University

nachricht Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor
22.02.2017 | Toyohashi University of Technology

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>