New Nano PV Production Technology

Nanosys Incorporated has announced that a team led by Dr. Paul Alivisatos, Nanosys Co-founder and Professor of Chemistry at the University of California-Berkeley, has discovered a nano-material for the efficient production of solar energy.

BERKELEY, California 2002-04-01 [SolarAccess.com] The nano-composite devices can be produced using inexpensive manufacturing methods and will capture the benefits of solar energy in a way that is more cost effective than traditional technologies. The team’s discovery is reported in the March 29 issue of the journal “Science” in an article entitled “Hybrid Nanorod-Polymer Solar Cells.” Dr. Alivisatos is the senior author of the article, along with UC Berkeley scientists Wendy Huynh and Janke Dittmer. “Traditional silicon-based photovoltaic elements are expensive to manufacture in large volumes, requiring extremely high temperature, high vacuum and numerous lithographic steps,” said Alivisatos. “That’s why we chose to pursue the hybrid nano-composite approach, incorporating inorganic nanorods into organic semiconductor films. The nanorod/polymer hybrid elements can be mass-produced under ambient conditions without any of these complicated and expensive steps.” By growing nanorods with a specific diameter precise control of the band gap of the nanocomposite, adjusting it for optimal absorption of ambient light; that’s not possible to do with traditional semi conducting materials. “Until now, the high costs of photovoltaic-element manufacturing made solar energy too expensive to compete with commodity electricity available from utilities,” said Larry Bock, President and CEO of Nanosys. “The discovery by Dr. Alivisatos will create solar cells that could compete with the highest-efficiency semiconductor cells, but be fabricated using the techniques used to make photographic film, which is produced at low costs and in volumes of literally miles of material per day.” “There has been much interest recently in the possibility of making cheap, plastic solar cells,” said Keith Barnham of Imperial College, London. “The efficiencies of these plastic-cells, however, are currently far too low for commercial exploitation. Professor Alivisatos’ group has made a breakthrough by incorporating nanorods into polymer devices, so as to give them many features of conventional, high-efficiency crystalline cells.” Professor Barnham pioneered the use of quantum well nanostuctures in high efficiency solar cells like those deployed on satellites. He is one of the world’s leading experts in the field of solar energy. “I think this hybrid approach is a most promising way to achieve the efficiencies necessary to make plastic solar cells commercially viable,” he said. “It would help to make solar electricity competitive with fossil fuels.”
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