Off-the-shelf dyes improve solar cells

Aug 31, 2010

Like most technologies, work on solar devices has proceeded in generational waves. First came bulk silicon-based solar cells built with techniques that borrowed heavily from those used to make computer chips. Next came work on thin films of materials specifically tailored to harvest the sun's energy, but still more or less borrowed from the realm of microelectronics manufacturing. Then came the third generation, described by one researcher and blogger as "the wild west," which among other objectives aims to build inexpensive next-generation solar cells by relying on decidedly low-tech wet chemistry.

In a paper in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, which is published by the American Institute of Physics, Ram Mehra of Sharda University in Greater Noida, India, reports success in boosting the ability of zinc oxide solar cells to absorb visible light simply by applying a blended mixture of various off-the-shelf commonly used in food and medical industries.

Working with colleagues from the University of Delhi, Mehra doused cells with a variety of dyes in a soak-then-dry procedure not unlike that used to color a tee-shirt in a home washing machine.

The best result came from a blend of dyes -- including Fast Green, a food dye used in canned vegetables, jellies and sauces and Rose Bengal, used in diagnostic eye drops to stain damaged cells and identify eye injuries -- that together boosted the efficiency of solar cells by nearly eight percent. Mehra and colleagues say that in the future, specific dye blends might be formulated to make targeted for specific uses, much as custom mixing of dyes today yields products as diverse as adhesives, cosmetics, and perfumes. They write that "by changing composition of the mixture, its properties will change to be more or less suited to a particular useful application."

Explore further: Going nuts? Turkey looks to pistachios to heat new eco-city

More information: The article "Development of a dye with broadband absorbance in visible spectrum for an efficient dye-sensitized solar cell" by Seema Rani, P. K. Shishodia, and R. M. Mehra appears in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy. See: link.aip.org/link/JRSEBH/v2/i4/p043103/s1

Provided by American Institute of Physics

4.8 /5 (4 votes)

Related Stories

Taking nature’s cue for cheaper solar power

Apr 04, 2007

Solar cell technology developed by the University’s Nanomaterials Research Centre will enable New Zealanders to generate electricity from sunlight at a 10th of the cost of current silicon-based photo-electric ...

Selenium makes more efficient solar cells

Aug 03, 2010

Call it the anti-sunscreen. That's more or less the description of what many solar energy researchers would like to find -- light-catching substances that could be added to photovoltaic materials in order ...

Best energy harvesting sources for future AF UAVs

Jul 14, 2009

Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) are expected to power Air Force unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the future because they are an optimum energy harvesting source that may lead to longer flight times without refueling.

Recommended for you

Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US

Apr 17, 2014

The White House Thursday announced a series of measures aimed at increasing solar energy production in the United States, particularly by encouraging the installation of solar panels in public spaces.

Tailored approach key to cookstove uptake

Apr 17, 2014

Worldwide, programs aiming to give safe, efficient cooking stoves to people in developing countries haven't had complete success—and local research has looked into why.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Researchers uncover likely creator of Bitcoin

The primary author of the celebrated Bitcoin paper, and therefore probable creator of Bitcoin, is most likely Nick Szabo, a blogger and former George Washington University law professor, according to students ...