Solar energy could provide a clean alternative to fossil fuels, but the high cost of solar cells has been a major barrier to their widespread use.
Stanford researchers have found that adding a single layer of organic molecules to a solar cell can increase its efficiency three-fold and could lead to cheaper, more efficient solar panels. Their results were published online in ACS Nano.
Professor of chemical engineering Stacey Bent first became interested in a new kind of solar technology two years ago. These solar cells used tiny particles of semiconductors called "quantum dots." Quantum dot solar cells are cheaper to produce than traditional ones, as they can be made using simple chemical reactions. But despite their promise, they lagged well behind existing solar cells in efficiency.
"I wondered if we could use our knowledge of chemistry to improve their efficiency," Bent said. If she could do that, the reduced cost of these solar cells could lead to mass adoption of the technology.
Bent will discuss her research on Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.
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