Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Enhancing Solar Cells With Nanoparticles

Date:
December 26, 2008
Source:
Optical Society of America
Summary:
Deriving plentiful electricity from sunlight at a modest cost is a challenge with immense implications for energy, technology and climate policy. A new article describes a relatively new approach to solar cells: lacing them with nanoscopic metal particles. The method helps solar cells harvest light more efficiently.

Deriving plentiful electricity from sunlight at a modest cost is a challenge with immense implications for energy, technology, and climate policy. Scientists are developing a relatively new approach to solar cells: lacing them with nanoscopic metal particles. As the authors describe in a new article, this approach has the potential to greatly improve the ability of solar cells to harvest light efficiently.

Like plants, solar cells turn light into energy. Plants do this inside vegetable matter, while solar cells do it in a semiconductor crystal doped with extra atoms. Current solar cells cannot convert all the incoming light into usable energy because some of the light can escape back out of the cell into the air. Additionally, sunlight comes in a variety of colors and the cell might be more efficient at converting bluish light while being less efficient at converting reddish light.

The nanoparticle approach seeks to remedy these problems. The key to this new research is the creation of a tiny electrical disturbance called a "surface plasmon." When light strikes a piece of metal it can set up waves in the surface of the metal. These waves of electrons then move about like ripples on the surface of a pond. If the metal is in the form of a tiny particle, the incoming light can make the particle vibrate, thus effectively scattering the light. If, furthermore, the light is at certain "resonant" colors, the scattering process is particularly strong.

In the Optics Express paper, Kylie Catchpole and Albert Polman show what happens when a thin coating of nanoscopic (a billionth of a meter in size) metal particles are placed onto a solar cell. First of all, the use of nanoparticles causes the incoming sunlight to scatter more fully, keeping more of the light inside the solar cell. Second, varying the size and material of the particles allows researchers to improve light capture at otherwise poorly-performing colors.

In their work, carried out at the FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics in The Netherlands, Catchpole and Polman showed that light capture for long-wavelength (reddish) light could be improved by a factor of more than ten. Previously Catchpole and co-workers at the University of New South Wales showed that overall light-gathering efficiency for solar cells using metallic nanoparticles can be improved by 30 percent.

"I think we are about three years from seeing plasmons in photovoltaic generation," says Catchpole, who has now started a new group studying surface plasmons at the Australian National University. "An important point about plasmonic solar cells is that they are applicable to any kind of solar cell." This includes the standard silicon or newer thin-film types.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Optical Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K.R. Catchpole and A. Polman. Plasmonic Solar Cells. Optics Express, Vol. 16, Issue 6, December 22, 2008

Cite This Page:

Optical Society of America. "Enhancing Solar Cells With Nanoparticles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081223172705.htm>.
Optical Society of America. (2008, December 26). Enhancing Solar Cells With Nanoparticles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081223172705.htm
Optical Society of America. "Enhancing Solar Cells With Nanoparticles." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081223172705.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 30, 2014) Fresh breath and clean teeth are great, but have you ever thought, "my toothpaste could be doing more". Well, it can! Lots of things! Howdini has 7 new uses for this household staple. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins