The latest news from academia, regulators
research labs and other things of interest
Posted: June 30, 2009
Quantum of sol - the next generation of solar cells
(Nanowerk News) Researchers from Imperial College London are developing the next generation of solar panels to harness the sun to provide clean and affordable electricity.
Their exhibit "Quantum of Sol" is at this year's Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.
A 3mm-by-3mm Quantum Well Solar Cell next to a 1p pieceSolar energy has long been recognised as a potential alternative to fossil fuels, but the technology was traditionally expensive and inefficient. This is now changing.
"Solar energy is one of the most sustainable energy sources we have, but until recently, the technology to convert it was relatively inefficient," says Dr Nicholas Ekins-Daukes from Imperial College London. "We specialise in using nanotechnology to increase the efficiency of solar electricity generation and thereby also reduce the cost."
Solar cells, like the human eye, are only sensitive to certain parts of the sun's spectrum. This new technology tailors the solar cells on the nanoscale, to increase the spectrum of light they can absorb and use. The high efficiency cells are integrated into optical systems that concentrate the sunlight further, reducing the amount of expensive cell material required.
The researchers recently set the record for the most efficient nanostrctured solar cell, with approximately twice the efficiency of commercially available solar cells.
"These ‘third generation' cells will help accelerate the adoption of solar energy as a green energy source," says Nicholas.