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Nanotechnology Spotlight

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Showing Spotlights 17 - 24 of 59 in category Solar Cells (newest first):


Origami foldable solar cells (w/video)

foldable_solar_cellsInspired by a particular folding technique called rigid origami, researchers have demonstrated foldable silicon solar cells. The fabrication process utilizes mainstream high-temperature processes to fabricate high-performance stretchable electronics. In this approach, high-performance functional devices are fabricated on rigid surfaces and do not experience large strain during deformation, and these rigid surfaces are joined by serpentine-shaped interconnects that allow for a full-degree folding and unfolding, which enables deformability.

Posted: Feb 26th, 2014

Nanopaper optimized for solar cells

transparentTransparent and flexible substrates are widely explored for flexible electronics and researchers have been working on techniques to develop thermally stable and biodegradable materials that are as easily printable as paper. Previously, we reported on a transparent and flexible nanopaper transistor. The same team has now reported a novel transparent paper substrate design optimized for solar cells. They introduced a novel transparent paper made of earth-abundant wood fibers that simultaneously achieves an ultrahigh transmittance and ultrahigh optical haze.

Posted: Jan 22nd, 2014

Increasing solar cell efficiency limit by 'heating up' 'cold' photons

sunshineThe quest for efficient low-cost solutions for solar energy conversion faces many obstacles, both, fundamental and technical. As a result, even 'ideal' solar cells have maximum intrinsic efficiency - known as the Shockley-Queisser (S-Q) limit - of 33% for the illumination by the non-concentrated sunlight. A number of architectures have been proposed for reducing losses in solar cells in order to overcome the S-Q single-junction limit. Now, researchers have proposed a new way to break the fundamental S-Q limit by using a mechanism of thermal up-conversion.

Posted: Dec 5th, 2013

Nanotechnology for solar cell applications - graphene-based materials

grapheneGraphene-based nanomaterials have many promising applications in energy-related areas. In particular, there are four major energy-related areas where graphene will have an impact: solar cells, supercapacitors, lithium-ion batteries, and catalysis for fuel cells. Graphene could be a promising replacement material for indium tin oxide. A recent review provides an overview of research on graphene and its derivatives, with a particular focus on synthesis, properties, and applications in solar cells.

Posted: Oct 10th, 2013

Making inorganic solar cells with an airbrush spray

sprayThere is currently a tremendous amount of interest in the solution processing of inorganic materials. Low cost, large area deposition of inorganic materials could revolutionize the fabrication of solar cells, LEDs, and photodetectors. The most common methods currently used for film formation are spin coating and dip coating, which provide uniform thin films but limit the geometry of the substrate used in the process. The same nanocrystal solutions used in these procedures can also be sprayed using an airbrush, enabling larger areas and multiple substrates to be covered much more rapidly. The trade-off is the roughness and uniformity of the film, both of which can be substantially higher. Researchers have now attempted to quantify these differences for a single-layer solar cell structure, and found the main difference to be a reduction in the open circuit voltage of the device.

Posted: Sep 25th, 2013

Solar paint paves the way for low-cost photovoltaics

solar_cellUsing quantum dots as the basis for solar cells is not a new idea, but attempts to make such devices have not yet achieved sufficiently high efficiency in converting sunlight to power. Although these performance levels are promising, all high-performing device results to date have relied on a multiple-layer-by-layer strategy for film fabrication rather than employing a single-layer deposition process. Now, though, researchers have developed a semiconductor ink with the goal of enabling the coating of large areas of solar cell substrates in a single deposition step and thereby eliminating tens of deposition steps necessary with the previous layer-by-layer method.

Posted: Aug 26th, 2013

Nanotechnology enhanced organic photovoltaics: Breaking the 10% efficiency barrier

plasmonic_nanostructureOrganic solar cells are regarded as an emerging technology to become one of the low-cost thin-film alternatives to the current dominating silicon photovoltaic technology, due to their intrinsic potential for low-cost processing (high-speed and at low temperature). However, it is generally believed that the PCE needs to be improved to above 10% in order for organic solar cells to become truly competitive in the marketplace. Currently, the best reported PCE, achieved in laboratories, lies in the range of 6.7% to 7.6% for molecular, and 8.3% to 10.6% for polymeric OPVs.

Posted: Mar 13th, 2013

The state of nanoimprinted polymer organic solar cell technology

organic_photovoltaicsMany researchers are investigating the development of flexible solar cells in hopes of improving efficiency and lowering manufacturing costs. As an important member of the organic photovoltaics family, polymer solar cells draw the most research interest, due to the relatively high power conversion efficiency achieved. However, compared to the high efficiencies of inorganic solar cells, the best polymer solar cells still show a lower efficiency. Improved nanomorphology is seen as key to improving the efficiency of organic solar cells. One particular nanotechnology approach would use nanoimprint lithography to produce precisely nanostructured devices rather than using chemical methods of manufacturing.

Posted: Jan 24th, 2013