PESWiki.com -- Pure Energy Systems Wiki: Finding and facilitating breakthrough clean energy technologies.
Directory:Paintable plastic solar cells using quantum dots
Paintable plastic solar cells are in development that could provide power beyond that of the advanced photovoltaic cells today.
- Paintable plastic solar cells that can harness the sun's invisible, infrared rays, and could deliver up to five times the power of the most advanced photovoltaic cells today.
- Combines specially-designed minute particles called quantum dots, three to four nanometers across, with a polymer to make a plastic that can detect energy in the infrared.
- Five years before market applications available.
- University of Toronto.
The one thing that's not wireless about all the wireless devices we have, is the way we power them; solar energy is literally wireless power.
— Josh Wolfe, a managing partner at the venture capital firm Lux Capital, in New York
The material is an electricity-conducting polymer mixed with nano-sized crystal particles called "quantum dots." The mix was painted onto glass, plied with electrodes and blasted with infrared light -- methods that allowed electrons to escape from the quantum dots and then be harvested almost instantaneously.
- Taps power from the visible spectrum plus the invisible infrared. Absorbable wavelength ranges from around 700 nanometer to 10 micron.
- Expected to convert 30 per cent of solar energy into electricity -- a five-fold improvement over current nano-engineered solar cells.
- Dissolves into a liquid without losing any of its performance
- May be painted onto walls or windows, sprayed on clothing, or printed onto rolls of paper.
- Could power handheld devices such as PDAs and iPods to cellphones, eliminating need for electrical cords.
- The plastic is adaptable for medical use, inasmuch as infrared light penetrates up to 10 centimeters inside human flesh..
Other members of the U of T research team are Gerasimos Konstantatos, Shiguo Zhang, Paul W. Cyr, Ethan J.D. Klem, and Larissa Lavina of electrical and computer engineering; Cyr is also with the Department of Chemistry. The research was supported in part by the Government of Ontario through Materials and Manufacturing Ontario, a division of the Ontario Centres of Excellence; the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada through its Collaborative Research and Development Program; Nortel Networks; the Canada Foundation for Innovation; the Ontario Innovation Trust; the Canada Research Chairs Program; and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship.
- Harnessing quantum dots for solar panels - Stion plans to make thin-film solar cells that can compare in performance with silicon solar cells but cost less. Sources say the company is probably working with quantum dots, tiny particles measuring a few nanometers, or tens of atoms, in diameter. Quantum dots in theory could work well in solar panels, however, they remain highly experimental. (CNET News; Jun. 26, 2005)
- Innovalight - Innovalight is harnessing a proprietary silicon-ink process to print thin-film solar power modules. Leveraging the advantages of solvent-based processing, Innovalight will help accelerate the promise of more affordable solar power solutions for residential and commercial applications.
- Nanotechnologists’ new plastic can see in the dark - Infrared-sensitive material could lead to better use of solar spectrum. (Univ. of Toronto Press release Jan. 10, 2005)
In the Journals
Maiden Announcement in Nature
- Solution-processed PbS quantum dot infrared photodetectors and photovoltaics - "In contrast to traditional semiconductors, conjugated polymers provide ease of processing, low cost, physical flexibility and large area coverage." (Nature Materials; online, Jan. 9, 2005)
In the News
- Nanotech / Solar > Solar Paint > Quantum Dots >
Researchers develop paint-on solar cells - A team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed an inexpensive solar paint that uses semiconducting nanoparticles to produce energy. "By incorporating power-producing nanoparticles, called quantum dots, into a spreadable compound, we've made a one-coat solar paint that can be applied to any conductive surface without special equipment." (PhysOrg; December 21, 2011)
- Spire patents quantum dot production - Spire Corporation has been granted a U.S. patent for a method that produces quantum dot nanoparticles. The tiny semiconductor structures can excite electrons and generate an electrical current when exposed to light at predetermined wavelengths. The dots can be used for high efficiency, low-cost solar cells. (Cleantech.com; Feb. 13, 2008)
- Quantum-dot solar power could boost output in cheap photovoltaics - Some chemists think that quantum dots--tiny crystals of semiconductors just a few nanometers wide--could at last make solar power cost-competitive with electricity from fossil fuels. They could have a maximum efficiency of 42 percent, far better than silicon's maximum of 31 percent, and would be cheap to manufacture. (MIT Technology Review; Mar. 12, 2007)
- Scientists create cells that can harness sun's rays - Canadian scientists have created paintable plastic solar cells that are the first to harness the sun's invisible, infrared rays, and could deliver up to five times the power of the most advanced photovoltaic cells today. (PEJ News; Canada; Jan 10, 2005)
- New plastic can better convert solar energy - Researchers at the University of Toronto have invented an infrared-sensitive material that's five times more efficient at turning the sun's power into electrical energy than current methods. (CTV, Canada; Jan. 9, 2004)
- University Of Toronto Technology Could Foil Fraud With Laser-sensitive Dyes -- Working with capsules of dye just a few billionths of a metre in diameter, researchers at University of Toronto and the advanced optical microscopy facility at Toronto's Princess Margaret ... > (Science Daily; November 3, 2003)
- Superconductors See The Light At Shorter Wavelengths -- A University of Rochester scientist and his Russian colleagues from Moscow State Pedagogical University have developed a superconducting device capable of detecting light at wavelengths that were ... > (Science Daily; January 29, 1999)
- Low Power, Highly Reliable, Wireless, Infrared Local Area Networks Demonstrated -- Penn State engineers have shown that broadband, wireless, indoor, local area communication networks that rely on non-line-of-sight infrared (IR) signal transmission can offer low error rates as well ... > (Science Daily; July 25, 2001)
- Intelligent Clothing Inspired By Pine Cones -- A new type of 'smart' clothing which adapts to changing temperatures to keep the wearer comfortable is being developed by two universities using nature as a ... > (Science Daily; October 5, 2004)
Professor Edward H. Sargent
Nortel Networks – Canada Research Chair in Emerging Technologies
See Discussion page