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Solar Cell Work Requires Coating Research

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

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Researchers based out of California's Lawrence Berkeley National Lab have found a way to adjust solar materials so they are able to absorb the greatest possible range of the light spectrum. However, the study was conducted in a nitrogen atmosphere, and a protective coating is needed for these adjustments to work.

According to Berkeley Lab, the team coated tiny particles with organic dyes, enhancing their capacity to absorb near-infrared light while also remitting the light in the visible light spectrum.

Enhancing Solar Cells

Once researchers understood how the dyes on the nanoparticles allowed for the increased absorption of light from a wider range, they re-engineered the nanoparticles to further amplify this light-absorption property.

Berkeley Lab

Researchers based out of California's Lawrence Berkeley National Lab have found a way to adjust solar materials so they are able to absorb the greatest possible range of the light spectrum. However, the study was conducted in a nitrogen atmosphere, and a protective coating is needed for these adjustments to work.

“These organic dyes capture broad swaths of near-infrared light,” said Bruce Cohen, a scientist at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, who helped lead the study.

“Since the near-infrared wavelengths of light are often unused in solar technologies that focus on visible light, and these dye-sensitized nanoparticles efficiently convert near-infrared light to visible light, they raise the possibility of capturing a good portion of the solar spectrum that otherwise goes to waste, and integrating it into existing solar technologies.”

According to Berkeley Lab, the dye itself amplifies the brightness of the reemitted light 33,0000-fold, while also increasing light conversion efficiency by 100 times.

A 2012 study found that dyes on the surface of upconverting nanoparticles (UCNPs) enhanced the light-converting properties of the particles, but how it happened remained unclear. Over the past several years researchers have been trying to replicate these findings, but found that the dyes used degraded when exposed to light, making it difficult to find out what was going on.

Protective Coating Needed

According to CleanTechnica, given that the most recent study was carried out in a nitrogen atmosphere, the team is looking for a protective coating that would allow the UCPNs to exist in a real-world setting.

“More [research] is needed to evaluate possible protective coatings for the particles, such as different polymers that serve to encapsulate the particles,” Berkeley Lab notes on its website.

“We have even better designs in mind going forward,” said James Schuck, a Columbia University researcher who also worked on the study.

The team’s research was published in Nature Photonics.

   

Tagged categories: Research and development; Solar; Solar energy

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