Quantum dot recipe may lead to cheaper solar panels

Climate Change / Science

Some intriguing news on the alternative energy front this evening:

“Rice University scientists today revealed a breakthrough method for producing molecular specks of semiconductors called quantum dots, a discovery that could clear the way for better, cheaper solar energy panels.

The research, by scientists at Rice’s Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN), appears this week in the journal Small. It describes a new chemical method for making four-legged cadmium selenide quantum dots, which previous research has shown to be particularly effective at converting sunlight into electrical energy.

‘Our work knocks down a big barrier in developing quantum-dot-based photovoltaics as an alternative to the conventional, more expensive silicon-based solar cells,’ said paper co-author and principal investigator Michael Wong, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. “

Quantum dots are one of those really interesting macroscopic manifestations of the wacky world of non-locality. Sort of like lasers do. They’ve been known about for a little over a decade, and people have been thinking that they are perfect for emitter roles (like replacing LED lasers etc.) This is the first I’ve come across someone suggesting them to collect energy.

Read the rest here: Quantum dot recipe may lead to cheaper solar panels

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  1. Paul Martin says

    Actually, quantum dots are the new frontier for dramatic means of increasing collection efficiency in solar cells. There is a startup in Phoenix which is doing the same thing, and it’s a major academic research topic. In one approach, you can embed quantum nano particles in a matrix and stack them into a multi-junction solar cell without the restriction of maintaining the same crystal lattice constant through all of the layers. I don’t know if this will ever see production, but it’s a fascinating idea.

  2. A MacArthur says

    Glad to hear that research is being done on this here in Phoenix. We recently moved here from the East Coast and find it amazing that with the vast quantity of sunlight here as compared with back East there is not more attention to capturing solar energy. In fact it appears that more is being done back East. In New Jersey there is a company that is installing solar panels atop businesses, which in turn get renumerated for providing the space.

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