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: Audi to develop Tesla Model S all-electric rival

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

Audi to develop Tesla Model S all-electric rival

14 hours ago

The Tesla Model S has a rival. Audi is to develop all-electric family car. This is to be a family car that will offer an all-electric range of 280 miles (450 kilometers), according to Auto Express, which ...

A green data center with an autonomous power supply

19 hours ago

A new data center in the United States is generating electricity for its servers entirely from renewable sources, converting biogas from a sewage treatment plant into electricity and water. Siemens implemented ...

Can we create an energy efficient Internet?

20 hours ago

With the number of Internet connected devices rapidly increasing, researchers from Melbourne are starting a new research program to reduce energy consumption of such devices.

Shedding light on solar power

Nov 27, 2014

Everyone wants to save energy, but not everyone knows where to start. Grid Resources, a startup based out of the Centre for Urban Energy's iCUE incubator, is developing a new website that seeks to help homeowners ...

Energy transition project moves into its second phase

Nov 27, 2014

Siemens is studying new concepts for optimizing the cost-effectiveness and technical performance of energy systems with distributed and fluctuating electricity production. The associated IRENE research project ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.