Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Solar power's future brawl

02.10.2013
Simulations help North and South Dakota researchers decide which technology would make a better solar collector, quantum dot or nanowire

A trio of researchers at North Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota have turned to computer modeling to help decide which of two competing materials should get its day in the sun as the nanoscale energy-harvesting technology of future solar panels -- quantum dots or nanowires.


Amorphous Silicon nanowire (yellow network) facilitates harvesting of solar energy in the form of a photon (wavy line). In the process of light absorption a pair of mobile charge carriers is created (red clouds depict an electron smeared in space, while the blue clouds visualize the so-called hole which is a positively charged carrier). The energy of their directed motion is then transformed into electricity. Electron and hole charge distributions are often located in different regions of space due to multiple structural defects in amorphous silicon nanowires.

Credit: A.Kryjevski, S.Kilina and D.Kilin/JRSE

Andrei Kryjevski and his colleagues, Dimitri Kilin and Svetlana Kilina, report in AIP Publishing's Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy that they used computational chemistry models to predict the electronic and optical properties of three types of nanoscale (billionth of a meter) silicon structures with a potential application for solar energy collection: a quantum dot, one-dimensional chains of quantum dots and a nanowire. The ability to absorb light is substantially enhanced in nanomaterials compared to those used in conventional semiconductors. Determining which form -- quantum dots or nanowire -- maximizes this advantage was the goal of the numerical experiment conducted by the three researchers.

"We used Density Functional Theory, a computational approach that allows us to predict electronic and optical properties that reflect how well the nanoparticles can absorb light, and how that effectiveness is affected by the interaction between quantum dots and the disorder in their structures," Kryjevski said. "This way, we can predict how quantum dots, quantum dot chains and nanowires will behave in real life even before they are synthesized and their working properties experimentally checked."

The simulations made by Kryjevski, Kilin and Kilina indicated that light absorption by silicon quantum dot chains significantly increases with increased interactions between the individual nanospheres in the chain. They also found that light absorption by quantum dot chains and nanowires depends strongly on how the structure is aligned in relation to the direction of the photons striking it. Finally, the researchers learned that the atomic structure disorder in the amorphous nanoparticles results in better light absorption at lower energies compared to crystalline-based nanomaterials.

"Based on our findings, we believe that putting the amorphous quantum dots in an array or merging them into a nanowire are the best assemblies for maximizing the efficiency of silicon nanomaterials to absorb light and transport charge throughout a photovoltaic system," Kryjevski said. "However, our study is only a first step in a comprehensive computational investigation of the properties of semiconductor quantum dot assemblies.

"The next steps are to build more realistic models, such as larger quantum dots with their surfaces covered by organic ligands and simulate the processes that occur in actual solar cells," he added.

The article, "Amorphous Silicon Nanomaterials: Quantum Dots Versus Nanowires" by Andrei Kryjevski, Dmitri Kilin and Svetlana Kilina, appears in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy. See: http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4817728

ABOUT THE JOURNAL

The Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal covering all areas of renewable and sustainable energy that apply to the physical science and engineering communities. See: http://jrse.aip.org

Jason Socrates Bardi | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.aip.org

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Producing electricity during flight
20.09.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene
19.09.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>