Lacing solar cells with nanoparticles makes them more efficientDecember 24th, 2008 - 11:49 am ICT by ANI
Washington, Dec 24 (ANI): Scientists have come up with a new approach to help solar cells harvest light more efficiently, by lacing them with nanoscopic metal particles.
Like plants, solar cells turn light into energy. Plants do this inside vegetable matter, while solar cells do it in a semiconductor crystal doped with extra atoms.
Current solar cells cannot convert all the incoming light into usable energy because some of the light can escape back out of the cell into the air.
Additionally, sunlight comes in a variety of colors and the cell might be more efficient at converting bluish light while being less efficient at converting reddish light.
The nanoparticle approach seeks to remedy these problems.
The key to this new research is the creation of a tiny electrical disturbance called a surface plasmon. When light strikes a piece of metal, it can set up waves in the surface of the metal.
These waves of electrons then move about like ripples on the surface of a pond.
If the metal is in the form of a tiny particle, the incoming light can make the particle vibrate, thus effectively scattering the light. If, furthermore, the light is at certain resonant colors, the scattering process is particularly strong.
Kylie Catchpole and Albert Polman from the University of New South Wales have shown what happens when a thin coating of nanoscopic (a billionth of a meter in size) metal particles are placed onto a solar cell.
First of all, the use of nanoparticles causes the incoming sunlight to scatter more fully, keeping more of the light inside the solar cell.
Second, varying the size and material of the particles allows researchers to improve light capture at otherwise poorly-performing colors.
In their work, carried out at the FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics in The Netherlands, Catchpole and Polman showed that light capture for long-wavelength (reddish) light could be improved by a factor of more than ten.
Previously Catchpole and co-workers at the University of New South Wales showed that overall light-gathering efficiency for solar cells using metallic nanoparticles can be improved by 30 percent.
I think we are about three years from seeing plasmons in photovoltaic generation, said Catchpole, who has now started a new group studying surface plasmons at the Australian National University.
An important point about plasmonic solar cells is that they are applicable to any kind of solar cell, Catchpole added. (ANI)
- New approach helps solar cells harvest light more efficiently - Dec 24, 2008
- Scientists turn light into electrical current using golden nanoscale system - Feb 13, 2010
- Now, power your home with 'solar paint' - Dec 22, 2011
- Solar cells could be used to treat cancer effectively, say scientists - Nov 17, 2010
- Silver nanoparticles can boost polymer solar cells' electrical current generation - Oct 06, 2009
- Nanobubbles 'can detect and eliminate prostate cancer cells' - Sep 28, 2010
- Nanoparticles to help mop up more solar energy - Apr 05, 2011
- New flexible and lightweight solar cell developed by scientists - Feb 16, 2010
- Nanoparticles in English ivy 'key to making sunscreen safer, more effective' - Jul 20, 2010
- New materials could make invisibility cloak technology a reality - Jan 26, 2011
- Scientists achieve new record for solar cell efficiency - Aug 27, 2009
- Solar power goes viral for peak efficiency - Apr 26, 2011
- Tweaking solar cell can double its efficiency - Jan 22, 2012
- Carpet of silicon whiskers could make solar cells cheaper - Feb 15, 2010
- New solar cell technology boosts efficiency of photovoltaics - Apr 30, 2011
Tags: bluish light, catchpole, electrical disturbance, energy plants, fom institute, incoming light, incoming sunlight, metal particles, molecular physics, new south wales, polman, resonant colors, semiconductor crystal, solar cells, surface plasmon, thin coating, tiny particle, university of new south wales, usable energy, vegetable matter