On the road to invisible solar panels: How tomorrow’s windows will generate electricity

EurekAlert  January 5, 2021 The transparent photovoltaic cell (TPC) is an invisible solar cell bypassing the visible range light while absorbing harmful UV light to generate electric power. An international team of researchers (South Korea, India, Viet Nam) fabricated the TPC using TiO2 as the n-type semiconductor to serve as the UV light absorber. Above TiO2 layer, p-type NiO is deposited for a high transmittance (>57%) for the visible light. The two different metal-oxide species are employed to make a transparent heterojunction. TPC is transparent to human eyes and which would serve as an invisible power source for the window […]

New energy conversion layer for biosolar cells

Phys.org  December 21, 2020 Well‐defined assemblies of photosynthetic protein complexes are required for an optimal performance of semi‐artificial energy conversion devices, capable of providing unidirectional electron flow when light‐harvesting proteins are interfaced with electrode surfaces. An international team of researchers (Germany, Portugal) has developed a mixed photosystem I (PSI) monolayers constituted of native cyanobacterial PSI trimers in combination with isolated PSI monomers from the same organism. The resulting compact arrangement ensures a high density of photoactive protein complexes per unit area, providing the basis to effectively minimize short‐circuiting processes that typically limit the performance of PSI‐based bioelectrodes. The PSI film […]

Turning streetwear into solar power plants

Nanowerk  October 22, 2020 Luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) absorb diffusive light and increase the cost-effectiveness of solar cells; however, the compatibility with flexible photovoltaics and the energy transfer (ET) efficiency still require improvement. Researchers in Switzerland used amphiphilic polymer conetworks (APCNs) as polymer matrices for wearable LSCs owing to their flexibility and wearability. Furthermore, with the assistance of APCNs’ nanophase separated hydrophobic and hydrophilic domains, hydrophobic and hydrophilic luminescent materials were loaded in adjacent nanometer-separated domains. This resulted in high ET rates and broadened the acceptor’s absorption range, rendering a more efficient down conversion emission. The re-emitted photons indicated that […]

Molecule to store solar energy developed

Science Daily  August 31, 2020 An international team of researchers (Sweden, Hungary, India) has developed a molecule belonging to the molecular photoswitches group that can take on two different forms: a parent form that can absorb energy from sunlight, and an alternative form where the structure of the parent form is changed to become much more energy-rich, while remaining stable. Through calculations they show that the molecule would undergo the desired change within 200 femtoseconds. The concept of switching between aromatic and non-aromatic states of a molecule has a major potential in the field of molecular photoswitches. A possible long-term […]

Wireless device makes clean fuel from sunlight, carbon dioxide and water

TechXplore  August 24, 2020 An international team of researchers (UK, Japan) has developed a technology that integrates lanthanum- and rhodium-doped SrTiO3 (SrTiO3:La,Rh) and molybdenum-doped BiVO4 (BiVO4:Mo) light absorbers modified by phosphonated Co(II) bis(terpyridine) and RuO2 catalysts onto a gold layer. The monolithic device provides a solar-to-formate conversion efficiency of 0.08 ± 0.01% with a selectivity for formate of 97 ± 3%. It produced almost no by-products. The new technology is more robust and produces clean fuel that is easier to store and shows potential for producing fuel products at scale…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Scientists build high-performing hybrid solar energy converter

Science Daily  July 15, 2020 A team of researchers in the US (UC San Diego, Tulane University, San Diego State University) has developed a hybrid solar energy converter that generates electricity and steam with high efficiency and low cost. It utilizes an approach that more fully captures the whole spectrum of sunlight. It generates electricity from high efficiency multi-junction solar cells that also redirect infrared rays of sunlight to a thermal receiver, which converts those rays to thermal energy. Energy can be stored until needed. In demonstrations it operated at 85.1 percent efficiency, delivered steam at up to 248°C, and […]

Lasers etch a ‘perfect’ solar energy absorber

Nanowerk  February 4, 2020 Direct femtosecond laser processing fabrication technique can effectively modify the optical, electrical, mechanical, and tribological properties of materials for a wide range of potential applications. However, it is difficult to precisely control the surface properties. Researchers at the University of Rochester have developed a process to obtain more control over spectral light absorption. They experimentally demonstrated spectral control of a variety of metals (copper aluminium, steel and tungsten), resulting in the creation of broadband light absorbers and selective solar absorbers (SSAs). They have shown that fs-laser-produced surfaces can be used as high-temperature SSAs and demonstrated that […]

Researchers find a way to harness the entire spectrum of sunlight

Phys.org  January 21, 2020 Researchers at the Ohio State University have shown that it is possible to collect energy from the entire visible spectrum of sunlight, including low-energy infrared, and transform it quickly and efficiently, into hydrogen. What makes it work is that the system is able to put the molecule into an excited state, where it absorbs the photon and is able to store two electrons to make hydrogen. They figured out a way make a catalyst out of one molecule of the element rhodium which means less energy is lost. The system is nearly 25 times more efficient […]

An artificial sunflower that bends toward the sun

Phys.org  November 5, 2019 A team of researchers in the US (UCLA, Arizona State University, industry) has created, sunflower-like biomimetic omnidirectional tracker (SunBOT), an artificial phototropic system based on nanostructured stimuli-responsive polymers that can aim and align to the incident light direction in the three-dimensions over a broad temperature range. Such adaptive reconfiguration is realized through a built-in feedback loop rooted in the photothermal and mechanical properties of the material. They have shown that an array of SunBOTs can, in principle, be used in solar vapour generation devices, as it achieves up to a 400% solar energy-harvesting enhancement over non-tropistic […]

Nanotechnology breakthrough enables conversion of infrared light to energy

Phys.org  October 31, 2019 Invisible infrared light accounts for half of all solar radiation on the Earth’s surface, yet ordinary solar energy systems have limited ability in converting it to power. A team of international researchers (Sweden, China) has developed film combining nanocrystals with chains of microlenses that can be applied on top of ordinary solar cells. The ability of the microlenses to concentrate light allows the nanoparticles to convert the weak IR light radiation to visible light which is useful for solar cells increasing their efficiency by 10 percent or more…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE