hold considerable promise for reducing the manufacturing costs of solar power. Within this field, colloidal quantum dots (CQD) have also been the focus of a number if research efforts, as they have the potential to soak up a wider range of the solar spectrum. Scientists at the University of Toronto have been aboard the quantum dot train for some time now and their latest breakthrough involves a new method for spraying solar cells onto flexible surfaces, a development that could one day see them coat anything from bicycle helmets to outdoor furniture.
Researchers at the University of Toronto have manufactured and tested a new type of colloidal quantum dots (CQD), that, unlike previous attempts, doesn't lose performance as they keep in contact with oxygen. The development could lead to much cheaper or even spray-on solar cells, as well as better LEDs, lasers and weather satellites.
Scientists at MIT are developing hybrid materials that are a cross between living bacterial cells and non-living components such as gold nanoparticles or quantum dots. The resulting "living materials" are able to respond to their environment like regular living cells, while also doing things like conducting electricity or emitting light.
Advancing solar technology is a trade-off between the efficiency of the cells themselves and the cost of producing and installing them. Quantum dot solar cells
, which use nanoscale semiconductors to produce electricity, promise low-cost production and, because they can be sprayed or painted on, big benefits in terms of installation. In the efficiency stakes quantum cells don't score as well as silicon-based or CIGS solar cells
, but a new efficiency record for colloidal quantum dot solar cells represents a big step towards narrowing the gap. This breakthrough isn't about the quantum dots though, it's about the wrapping.
Developing solar cells
that are cheaper to produce and can harness the sun’s energy more efficiently are both important factors in ensuring the widespread use of solar energy to provide a clean alternative to fossil fuels in the future. Stanford
researchers have found that adding a single layer of organic molecules can achieve both these goals by increasing three-fold the efficiency of quantum dot solar cells, which are cheaper to produce than traditional solar cells.
In two just-released studies, scientists have announced new ways of making solar cells
less expensive and more efficient. In one of the projects, researchers from the University of Toronto demonstrated that nickel can work just as well as gold for electrical contacts in colloidal quantum dot solar cells. In the other, a team from California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory added selenium to zinc oxide, dramatically increasing the oxide’s efficiency in absorbing solar light. Both developments could result in more practical, affordable solar technology.
Researchers from University of Minnesota have removed a barrier to improving solar cell efficiency by showing how heat energy currently lost from semiconductors can be captured and transferred to electric circuits. They hope manufacturers will use the results to produce solar cells with twice the output of current solar cells and at a lower cost.