November 03, 2008

Near perfect solar coating and a record 10% efficient dye solar cell

A new antireflective coating developed by researchers at Rensselaer could help to overcome two major hurdles blocking the progress and wider use of solar power. The nanoengineered coating, pictured here, boosts the amount of sunlight captured by solar panels and allows those panels to absorb the entire spectrum of sunlight from any angle, regardless of the sun’s position in the sky.Credit: Rensselaer/Shawn Lin

An untreated silicon solar cell only absorbs 67.4 percent of sunlight shone upon it — meaning that nearly one-third of that sunlight is reflected away and thus unharvestable. Shawn-Yu Lin, professor of physics at Rensselaer, and his team's new nanoengineered reflective coating absorbed 96.21 percent of sunlight shone upon it — meaning that only 3.79 percent of the sunlight was reflected and unharvested. This huge gain in absorption was consistent across the entire spectrum of sunlight, from UV to visible light and infrared, and moves solar power a significant step forward toward economic viability. A stationary solar panel treated with the coating would absorb 96.21 percent of sunlight no matter the position of the sun in the sky. So along with significantly better absorption of sunlight, Lin's discovery could also enable a new generation of stationary, more cost-efficient solar arrays.

Record 10% Efficient Dye Sensitive Solar Cell
A team of chinese and swiss researchers set new benchmarks for high-performance and practical dye-sensitized solar cells with low-volatility and solvent-free electrolyte, which is realized by the rational design of a high molar extinction coefficient sensitizer to enhance the light-harvesting and charge-collection yields of stained mesoscopic semiconducting films synchronously. This progress will foster the large-scale production and application of dye-sensitized solar cells

A team of chinese and swiss researchers report a high molar extinction coefficient heteroleptic polypyridyl ruthenium sensitizer, featuring an electron-rich 3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene unit in its ancillary ligand. A nanocrystalline titania film stained with this sensitizer shows an improved optical absorption, which is highly desirable for practical dye-sensitized solar cells with a thin photoactive layer, facilitating the efficient charge collection. In conjunction with low-volatility and solvent-free electrolytes, we achieved 9.6−10.0% and 8.5−9.1% efficiencies under the air-mass 1.5 global solar illumination. These dye-sensitized solar cells retain over 90% of the initial performance after 1000 h full sunlight soaking at 60 °C.

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