The fluorescent future of solar cells

May 09, 2013 by Eric Gershon
The fluorescent future of solar cells
Scientists at Yale have improved the ability of a promising type of solar cell to absorb light and convert it into electrical power by adding a fluorescent organic dye to the cell layer. Credit: Teng-Hooi Goh and Jing-Shun Huang

(Phys.org) —For some solar cells, the future may be fluorescent. Scientists at Yale have improved the ability of a promising type of solar cell to absorb light and convert it into electrical power by adding a fluorescent organic dye to the cell layer. This squaraine dye boosts light absorption and recycles electrons, improving the conversion of light into energy. The results suggest a new route for the development of lower-cost, higher-efficiency photovoltaics, the scientists said.

"People can apply our approach in designing advanced with higher efficiencies," said André D. Taylor, the assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering at Yale who led the research, published May 5 online in the journal Nature Photonics.

Solar cells are a for directly converting light into electricity. Polymer solar cells, the type involved in the research, are appealing for their low cost, low weight, large area, and mechanical flexibility. But they are inefficient—nearly 50 percent of their absorbed light energy never transmits as electrical power, mainly because their polymer networks are not sufficiently lined up at the nanoscale to enable energy to exit the cell.

By introducing a squaraine dye into polymer solar cells that are based on a well established biochemical mechanism—Förster (FRET)—researchers achieved a 38 percent increase in , they said.

In this type of solar cell—FRET-based heterojunction polymer solar cells—extra energy is able to migrate from one molecule to another over long distances. The dye, which is highly absorbent in the near-infrared region, both broadens the spectral absorption of solar cells and enhances electricity transmission.

The approach allows different light-absorbing materials to work synergistically and leads to well-ordered polymer networks without any need of post-processing, compared to traditional polymer solar cells.

"Our strategy solves a number of issues at the same time," said lead author Jing-Shun Huang, a postdoctoral associate in Taylor's lab. "By strategically combining different materials that have been successfully used to absorb solar energy to take advantage of FRET, we demonstrate higher-performing solar cells."

The paper is titled "Polymer bulk heterojunction solar cells employing Föerster resonance energy transfer."

Explore further: A giant leap to commercialization of polymer solar cell (PSC)

More information: www.nature.com/nphoton/journal/vaop/ncurrent/pdf/nphoton.2013.82.pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

High power laser sources at exotic wavelengths

Apr 14, 2014

High power laser sources at exotic wavelengths may be a step closer as researchers in China report a fibre optic parametric oscillator with record breaking efficiency. The research team believe this could ...

Combs of light accelerate communication

Apr 14, 2014

Miniaturized optical frequency comb sources allow for transmission of data streams of several terabits per second over hundreds of kilometers – this has now been demonstrated by researchers of Karlsruhe ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

vlaaing peerd
not rated yet May 10, 2013
heheh, that seems like a remarkably simple idea.

Interesting material now I think of it. Does fluorescent material actually absorb photons and release them with some kind of delay?

More news stories

Progress in the fight against quantum dissipation

(Phys.org) —Scientists at Yale have confirmed a 50-year-old, previously untested theoretical prediction in physics and improved the energy storage time of a quantum switch by several orders of magnitude. ...

Down's chromosome cause genome-wide disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors.

Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

The Ebola virus that has killed scores of people in Guinea this year is a new strain—evidence that the disease did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations, scientists report.