Nanotechnology holds the key to further developments in organic solar cells and energy storage. It might sound as a very bold statement to some, but it is true, and an international team of researchers demonstrated it. They developed “nanograss“, which can boost the efficiency of organic solar cells, while providing a mean for cheap energy storage and photodetectors.
The new technology was developed by scientists from three world-leading institutes in the field of nanotechnology- University of Massachusetts Amherst, Stanford University and the Dresden University of Technology. It is an array of vertical nanopillars, resembling a miniature grass field, which has the unique property to capture light photons super efficiently. This makes it suitable to use not only in organic solar cells, but also in electronic devices and energy storage systems.
To produce these nanopillars, on the nanograss, as the developers call it, the team used a graphene substrate and a semiconductor material, which were placed in a near-vacuum furnace. They gradually started to increase the temperatures and observed an initial formation of a thin film, which later on grew into an array on crystalline nanopillars.
The new technology can boost the power conversion efficiency of organic solar cells incredibly. In numbers, compared to thin films, the nanograss shows 32 percent increase, from 2.2 to 2.9%. For the interested in the technical details, the article was just published in the latest issue of the journal Nano Letters.
The lead scientist, Prof. Alejandro Briseno at UMass Amherst, claims that their development is truly revolutionary and can be seen as “the ‘Holy Grail’ of architecture for harvesting light and converting it to electricity”.
The technique is simple and cheap, but at the same time opens up great opportunities for further research and great advances in the fields of organic solar cells, energy storage, and affordable electronics.
Image (c) UMass Amherst