Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Copying Plant Anatomy Promises New Photovoltaics

01.04.2010
A promising new polymer-based method for creating photovoltaic devices, which convert sunlight into electricity, has been identified by chemists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Their new technique should lead to more efficient power production than achievable by the current generation of semiconductors.

The work by Sankaran Thayumanavan and colleagues at UMass Amherst, with others at the University of California-Riverside, is highlighted in the current issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), a premier chemistry journal, for the clever way it mimics nature’s way of harnessing solar energy.

To achieve the breakthrough, Thayumanavan and co-workers took inspiration from plants and experimented with organic molecules to mimic the photosynthetic machinery of plants. Their new paper demonstrates how a photosynthesis-style photovoltaic device can be designed using large, highly branched, non-biological organic molecules called dendrimers, based on plant anatomy. Branches allow the dendrimer to absorb photons from a wide area and funnel this energy to the dendrimer’s core where it is connected to a polymer “wire.” At the core, charge is separated and the electrons travel down the polymer “wire” to an electrode where electricity is produced.

As Thayumanavan explains, “Our method is inspired by an energy-harnessing process that plants use in nature, which evolved over millions of years to be efficient in terms of capturing a lot of energy and transporting it short distances without power loss. In the future, photovoltaic devices may no longer rely on slower, less efficient human-made semiconductors. Our work should lead to lighter, more efficient and sustainable photovoltaics.” Thayumanavan, known to colleagues as “Thai,” is director of the UMass Amherst’s Fueling the Future Center for Chemical Innovation.

He adds, “The hope is that such a bio-inspired design could approach the conversion efficiency that plants achieve naturally.”

The recent JACS article by him and colleagues titled, “Dendritic and linear macromolecular architectures for photovoltaics: A photoinduced charge transfer investigation,” was selected by the journal editors to appear in a special section, “Harnessing Energy for a Sustainable World.” They predict that the research will transform the way engineers design future photovoltaic devices.

The editors add, “Innovation through scientific discovery is a necessary component of much societal advancement. To truly implement sustainable practices, energy must be harnessed more cleanly and stored for efficient distribution and use. This systems-level change sometimes referred to as the New Industrial Revolution, will require novel materials as well as savvy analysis and modeling to ensure success.”

A link to the editorial comments about this research article can be found at:
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/ja1017738.
"Thai" Thayumanavan
413-545-1313
thai@chem.umass.edu

"Thai" Thayumanavan | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.umass.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Not of Divided Mind
19.01.2017 | Hertie-Institut für klinische Hirnforschung (HIH)

nachricht CRISPR meets single-cell sequencing in new screening method
19.01.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>