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This mean an 11 percent solar power conversion efficiency increase overall

A Canadian research team has used a certain type of nanoparticle to increase the efficiency of solar technology.

Ted Sargent, study leader and a professor at the University of Toronto's Engineering Department, along with Dr. Susanna Thon, has improved the efficiency of colloidal quantum dot photovoltaics through the use of plasmonic nanoparticles.

While colloidal quantum dot photovoltaics offer a lot of potential for large-area, low-cost solar power, they're not quite as efficient in the infrared area of the sun's spectrum.

To address this, the team used plasmonic nanoparticles that are spectrally tuned, meaning that they offer control over light absorption. The gold nanoshells were embedded directly into the quantum dot absorber film to do so.

The team added that gold is not the only material that can be used for this, since it isn't the most economical. Lower-cost materials can be used as well.

Using this technique, the team saw a 35 percent increase in efficiency in the near-infrared spectral region. This mean an 11 percent solar power conversion efficiency increase overall.

"There are two advantages to colloidal quantum dots," Thon said. "First, they're much cheaper, so they reduce the cost of electricity generation measured in cost per watt of power. But the main advantage is that by simply changing the size of the quantum dot, you can change its light-absorption spectrum. Changing the size is very easy, and this size-tunability is a property shared by plasmonic materials: by changing the size of the plasmonic particles, we were able to overlap the absorption and scattering spectra of these two key classes of nanomaterials."

From here, the team plans to look into cheaper metals to build a better cell.

Source: Science Daily

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What about the resulting efficiency?
By Phoque on 3/11/2013 6:15:25 PM , Rating: 2
Even the linked article doesn't mention the resulting efficiency of the cell, something I very much would have liked to know.

By c4xp on 3/12/2013 5:09:58 AM , Rating: 2
What I understand is that this technique does not apply to conventional Si solar panels, but instead to cheaper colloidal quantum dot photovoltaics.

A quick browse to: shows that these cheap panels have 7.0% efficiency.

So an increase to 18% (11+7) puts them in the range of commercial bulk silicon cells...
The price factor will be the determining factor in choosing over the two solutions.

P.S. Of course for higher efficiencies the old crystalline Si panels are best :)

By ShieTar on 3/12/2013 8:07:10 AM , Rating: 2
Thats because the University of Toronto is not a producer of solar cells. They have only shown an improvement to a single aspect of a type of cells, this now would have to be adapted to an affordable industrial process and tested before anybody can really tell you what the efficiency of a final cell using this technology will be.

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