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Posted: Sep 25, 2013

Using nanomaterials to develop the next generation of solar cells

(Nanowerk News) Researchers are developing new nanomaterials that could allow solar cells to overcome current existing efficiency limits. This would allow clean energy from the Sun to compete with traditional, environmentally unfriendly energy sources.
Conventional solar cell efficiencies are theoretically limited to approximately 33 %: this is known as the Shockley-Queisser efficiency limit. A new type of solar cell technology known as excitonic solar cells (XSCs) or sensitized solar cells, can in principle overcome such limit when particular absorbers are used, which allows what is called “multi-exciton generation” (MEG).
In this area, the EU has funded a project called 'Innovative materials for future generation excitonic solar cells' (INNOVASOL) to investigate new materials for the development of highly efficient XSC devices. The project aims to develop and optimise four classes of material for use in prototype XSCs.
Several key materials have been identified and characterised during the project. This includes a new type of quantum dot for light absorption and several novel molecular relays for the transfer of excitons. A prototype solar cell was also developed using some of the new materials.
INNOVASOL could thus improve solar cell efficiency through their novel approach to photon capture and transfer. The new materials will also have low production costs and high light-harvesting efficiencies.
Source: Cordis
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